This month Riding works on The Swiss Ghost, "Aristotle" (for Lives of Wives) and her children's story. She also writes the blurb for Kemp's Left Heresy and continues helping Reeves with Furniture, and Hodge and Graves with the dictionary. Her work on Lives of Wives often keeps her up until the early hours of the morning; it is not unusual for her to work until three or four o'clock, sleep late and take her lunch in bed.
Graves devotes most of the next several weeks to the dictionary and "The Castle-Keeper," which he finishes later in the month. He signs off on more than a thousand T. E. Lawrence pages - only to be informed later by Watt that the pages had been misnumbered and he will have to come to England and re-sign them. Graves refuses. Watt instead sends someone to meet Graves in Paris with the new pages (although the trip turns out to be much longer and more involved than Graves anticipated).
This month, Count Belisarius is published in America. On 10 November The World and Ourselves and Graves' Collected Poems are published. Graves dismisses the first review of the latter in the Times Literary Supplement as "peremptory and stupid." He drafts a new poem about pursuit and leisure, spending considerable time on it, but then asks Beryl to burn it in the fireplace as the friends share midnight tea.
Autumn has set in, and Graves notes that while the oaks are still green, all the other trees have lost their leaves. Walks at night are especially beautiful: "to the lake late at night: fantastic trees under the moon."
At the castle, a spark from the fireplace sets David Reeves' bedroom on fire. But he repairs the damage and in the process enlarges the fireplace and lays more tile. Marie, the new house help, moves in, and her room is furnished with odds and ends from the attic. Graves is clearly pleased when she begins polishing the floors (which hadn't been done since Graves and Riding had moved in) and the brass and the windows.
Graves records an amusing conversation with Mme Perou about French poetry: "I said it was like French jam - too sweet and without the taste of the fruit. She said: but like French jam, much clearer." A language misunderstanding is also cause for mirth and relief: Anita calls to say that her pregnancy test was negative, and Graves and Riding worry about her health. They visit the next day, and Anita tells them that the correct word is not "negative." Graves and Riding suggest that perhaps she meant "positive" - suddenly, what was to be a sombre visit becomes a celebration with champagne and toasts to Anita's pregnancy.
Graves receives an odd letter from Mary Lucy: she declares she is mediumistic and frequently has feelings about Graves, but he must not tell anyone. Graves reacts by telling everyone present. Riding promptly writes to Mary Lucy and informs her that such letters are probably the sort of thing that makes John Lucy jealous. Mary Lucy writes back a letter of farewell, citing cruelty on the part of Graves, and Riding's habit of putting "mind before heart." Graves and Riding are both relieved to be free of this particular friendship.
Also this month, the German pogroms1 begin, ostensibly a result of German diplomat vom Rath's assassination, although Graves and Riding later learn that the pogroms began a "½ hour before the shot was fired." Graves is relieved that Karl has obtained permanent leave to live and work in England.
There is one enclosure this month: a letter to Riding and Graves from Sam Graves.

Editorial Notes

1organized massacre, originally of Russian Jews. eds

Hands Referenced

People Mentioned

  • Laura

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

    Kemp, Harry
    Poet. Met Graves and Riding through James Reeves in August 1936, just after their arrival in England. In their previous correspondence, Riding had been intrigued by his falling-out with Communism. He became associated with their circle, collaborating on various projects. (RPG 248-49)
  • David Reeves

    Reeves, David
    Brother of James Reeves [and Ethel Herdman] RPG 292.
  • Alan

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

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

    servant at La Chevrie eds.
  • Mme Perou

    Madam Perou and her family who befriended RG et al at La Chevrie eds.
  • Anita

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

    Lucy, Mary
    Visited R.G. and L.R. at Ewhurst. An admirer of both Graves and Riding, but her marital problems brought tensions to their household. See diary entry January 2, 1938 (and K.G. note).
  • John Lucy

    Lucy, John
    Estranged husband of Mary Lucy; RG and LR are drawn into their marital problems. eds.
  • Karl/Carl

    Goldschmidt, Karl
    Karl Goldschmidt, later Kenneth Gay: Graphic artist, friend and secretary of Robert Graves and Laura Riding since 1934. R. G. spells both as Carl and Karl.
  • Sam

    Graves, Samuel
    R.G.'s youngest child by Nancy Nicholson. C.P.& WG
  • Goldschmidt, Karl
    Karl Goldschmidt, d.1995, who later changed his name to Kenneth Gay, was Robert Graves' and Laura Riding's personal secretary during the period when the diary was written. He later annotated another printout of the diary produced from the B.A. Graves transcript, which is at the Graves Trust Archives in St. John's Oxford. Notes by Karl Goldschmidt are denoted as KG.
  • 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

  • A.S. Watt & Son, Ltd.

    Watt, A.S.
    RG's literary agent: first mentioned in November, 1935; team includes: Alexander Strahan Watt, and W.P. Watt et al, who may have handled different aspects of Graves' extensive European publishing and distribution. The firm replaced Eric Pinker. K.G. When did Pinker go, and why? KG
  • Editors

    Editors of the Graves Diary Project.


    • Title: The Swiss Ghost [formerly The Kind Ghost] [novel]
    • Author: Graves, Robert/ Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1937-04-22
    • Title: Lives of Wives [prose]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd.
    • Idno: A39
    • Date: 1939
    • Title: The Left Heresy in Literature and Life [the essay "Politics and Poetry" comprises the closing section of this book.(RPG 278) eds.]
    • Author: Kemp, Harry/ Riding, Laura/ others
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Methuen
    • Idno: B29
    • Date: 1939
    • Title: Furniture: An Explanatory History
    • Author: Reeves, David
    • Editor: [Riding, Laura]
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Faber
    • Date: 1947
    • Title: Dictionary [projected project; unfinished]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1935
    • Title: Castle-Keeper, The [children's story; unpublished?]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Date: 1938-10-30
    • Title: T.E. Lawrence to His Biographer
    • Author: Lawrence, T.E.
    • Editor: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: New York
    • Publisher: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc.
    • Idno: A49
    • Date: 1938
    • Title: Count Belisarius [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A47
    • Date: 1937-07-21
    • Title: The World and Ourselves [former title: Letter Book]
    • Author: Riding, Laura [contributor; with Sally Graves, Sir Edward Marsh et al]
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Chatto & Windus
    • Date: 1938-11
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1938
    • Title: Times Literary Supplement
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Times London
    • Date: 1902-1968