JULY 1938

Along with Alan and Beryl, Graves and Riding spend a few days exploring Rennes, but quickly become disillusioned with the idea of city living and consider leasing a country home instead of the flat they had initially arranged. After several days looking for something suitable they finally find the Château de la Chevrie, a twelve-room castle on four hectares, with a private lake. It is being rented out by Mme La Comtesse de Kerellouan , and the price is right. Riding and Graves settle their affairs with the owner of the apartment they'd originally agreed to let, sign the lease with Mme La Comtesse and take up residence in the castle with Alan and Beryl. The move goes relatively well - "Last day at the Hotel: we have both lost our silver cigarette lighters: no other damage" - and Graves' lost luggage, which had turned up in St. Malo, is returned.
It quickly becomes apparent, however, that while it is romantic, the castle needs extensive repairs and a good cleaning; later in the year the friends will discover that it is very difficult to heat. But none of these setbacks is enough to tarnish their enthusiasm for the new living arrangements. The first several days at the castle are spent airing beds, applying for a telephone line, getting rid of bats and patching the attic, and fixing things that don't work. Riding and Graves hire a deaf cook, Modeste, whom Graves soon declares unsatisfactory: "Modeste is using her deafness strategically: so as not to cook the way I told her." But Graves seems happy to have lost the excess weight he was carrying, and still appreciates a meal cooked with finesse, such as Riding's "figs stewed in butter, then wine."
To everyone's dismay, Norman Cameron becomes engaged to Catherine Vandervelde. A few days later, Graves writes of "an ungracious letter from Catherine, answering Laura's letter of congratulations." But the news does not dampen spirits. Even news from Deyá - that Gelat's goods were seized when he was arrested, that there is now a compulsory Mass, and that the Germans and Italians are in control - does not deter the celebratory feel of the month. Graves and Riding host Graves' birthday with Anita and Juan, who bring champagne and almond cakes, and Dorothy Simmons arrives for an extended visit. Riding renews her American passport, though Graves writes that she also "spends an hour not getting an extension of her carte de Tourisme." A new kitten - Shadow - is a frequent source of amusement.
There is still time this month for a bit of work. Graves finishes "Cyrus" (for Riding's Lives of Wives) and drafts a new poem, "Tallness," later called "Autobiographical." Riding goes over Graves' Collected Poems, continues her work on "Aristotle" (for Lives of Wives) and dictates several letters to Beryl.
There are two enclosures this month:
  • 1. Horseracing ticket
  • 2. £1 from Honor Wyatt with "Refer to drawer" written across top

Hands Referenced

Places Mentioned

  • Rennes

    Rennes, France
    where Gelat's daughter, Anita, and son-in-law, Juan Vives live; visited by RG and LR et al in 1938 eds.
  • Château de la Chevrie

    Montauban-de-la-Bretagne, Brittany, France
    translating as "Venison Castle," La Chevrie was manor of an estate that RG & LR rented with Alan Hodge and Beryl Pritchard during their stay in France in 1938
  • St. Malo

    St. Malo, France
    port on the north-west coast of France. eds.
  • Deyá

    Deyá, Majorca, Sp
    Town located on the northwest coast of Majorca, on the hillside between the Teix Mountains and the sea: this was RG's home with Laura Riding from 1929 to 1936. He returned there with his family after WW II. Eds.

People Mentioned

  • Alan

    Hodge, Alan
    Oxford history graduate. Became close friends with LR & RG. First husband of Beryl Graves. CP & WG
  • Beryl

    Pritchard, Beryl
    daughter of Harry and Amy Pritchard, R.G.'s second wife. Formerly married to Alan Hodge. Robert and Beryl had four children: William, Lucia, Juan and Tomas. eds
  • Robert

    Graves, Robert
    [1st person]. (1895-1985). Poet, novelist, essayist, critic, and author of his diary. eds.
  • Laura

    Riding, Laura
    (1901-91) American poet. Laura Riding (née Reichenthal; then Laura Gottschalk).
  • Countess

    Kerellouan, Comptesse de
    landowner of Château de la Chevrie in Montauban, France eds.
  • Modeste

    Dreuxlin, Modeste
    cook and house maid at La Chevrie, France eds.
  • Norman Cameron

    Cameron, Norman
    Poet. Built Can Torrent in 1932-1933. W.G.; m. to Elfriede, then to Catherine Vandervelde; friend and contributor to LR and RG's work eds.
  • Catherine Vandervelde

    Vandervelde, Catherine
    one of Korda's scriptwriters; friend of RG and LR, met at Denham studios; contributor to World and Ourselves; married Norman Cameron in September, 1938. eds. Diary, and Friedmann 302
  • Gelat

    Más, Juan Marroig
    Juan Marroig Mas, called Gelat: Landowner on Deyá and friend of Robert Graves and Laura Riding (L.R. & R.G.'s factotum. W.G.)
  • Anita

    Ana, Anita
    Marroig. Gelat's daughter, married to Juan Vives the Doctor's brother. Live in Rennes, France. WG
  • Juan

    Vives, Juan
    The Doctor's brother. Married to Gelat's daughter. Lived in Rennes, France. WG
  • Dorothy

    Simmons, Dorothy
    Sculptor associated with the Graves-Riding inner circle (1938-39). Married to Montague Simmons. eds
  • Honor

    Wyatt, Honor
    Journalist. Arrived in Deyá fortuitously. Married to Gordon Glover...Son Julian. W.G. First acquainted with R.G. and L.R. early in 1934; returned to visit in 1935; continued friendship in England. eds (RPG 211).
  • Graves, William
    Son of Robert and Beryl Graves. Helped to identify names, places and titles in Deya (1935-1936) and with translations and other references in three ways. He left an annotated printout of the first six months of the diary in the Graves Trust Room at St. John's College, Oxford. He also sent Chris Petter an Excel file with a list identifying names and places, principally in the Majorcan sections of the diary, and a glossary of Spanish terms. Finally he has sent the editors answers in response to reference questions. Notes by William Graves are identified with the initials WG.

Organizations Mentioned

  • Editors

    Editors of the Graves Diary Project.


    • Title: Lives of Wives [prose]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd.
    • Idno: A39
    • Date: 1939
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1938