Of the work done this month (amidst Christmas preparations), the Dictionary dominates, although Riding also does some work on Greeks and Trojans and Lives of Wives. She has completed 190 pages of the latter, and expects to write another 60 on Herod's wives. Graves also does a bit of work on The Swiss Ghost and writes to the critic Louis MacNeice, "taking him up for his review of my poems in The Listener." On 21 December, the T. E. Lawrence book (T.E. Lawrence to His Biographer) is published in the United States.
David Reeves leaves for England, and his absence is felt keenly by both Graves and Riding. Riding takes to her bed soon after he leaves and has difficulty eating and getting up during the day for the next few weeks. Mid-month she receives news that her father has died in Los Angeles. On 10 December, Riding and Graves receive several long letters from friends - John Aldridge, Schuyler Jackson, Margaret Bottrall, Riding's sister Isabel. Writes Graves, the letters "gave the day a lovely colour." Graves has quit smoking, ostensibly to keep Dorothy company (she has quit as well), and experiences "no discomfort, really, only a temptation to eat too much." Dorothy has a relapse and begins smoking again, but Graves is "liking the experience" of not smoking.
Later in the month Graves does a bit of Christmas shopping at the St. Nicholas Fair in Montfort with Hodge, Dorothy, Léonie the cook and Marie the hired help. He goes shopping in Rennes with Beryl (who is now keeping a pet hedgehog and hopes to adopt another kitten soon). Graves and Riding receive gifts from Karl, Jenny Nicholson and Julie Matthews.
On 21 December Graves records the first snowfall of the year - six inches by dusk - and the weather remains very cold for the next several days; it is difficult to spend much time in rooms that don't have a fire burning in them. The new year tiptoes in as Graves and Riding spend the evening at home.
There are eight enclosures this month:
  • 1. Postcard and photo from Jenny
  • 2. Another postcard and photo from Jenny
  • 3. Five-page letter to Graves from Jenny in Liverpool
  • 4. Draft of letter to Desmond Flower from Graves
  • 5. Draft of letter to Louis MacNeice from Graves
  • 6. Note to self: "Time Dec 12"
  • 7. A summary of events in 1938
  • 8. List of words

Hands Referenced

Places Mentioned

  • Montfort

    Monfort, Brittany, France
  • 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.

People Mentioned

  • Laura

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

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

    MacNeice, Louis
    Irish poet (1907-1963). eds.
  • David Reeves

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

    Aldridge, John
    (1905-1983), painter and close friend and collaborator. WG m. to Lucie Brown 1940 eds.
  • Schuyler Jackson

    Jackson, Schuyler
    American poet who became Laura Riding's second husband. Graves and Riding stayed with Jackson, his wife Katharine ("Kit"), and his family on their farm in Pennsylvania in 1939. It was here that the partnership between R.G. and L.R. came to an end. eds
  • Bottrall

    Bottrall, Ronald
    poet KG; married to Margaret Bottrall, writer and editor eds.
  • Isabel

    Mayers, Isabel
    Laura Riding's sister. Lived in L.A. WG
  • Dorothy

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

    Nicholson, Jenny
    Jenny Nicholson: oldest daughter of Robert by Nancy Nicholson.
  • Julie

    Matthews, Julie
    Tom Matthews' wife. WG
  • Desmond Flower

    Flower, Desmond
    associated with Cassell publishers KG
  • 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

  • Editors

    Editors of the Graves Diary Project.


    • Title: Dictionary [projected project; unfinished]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1935
    • Title: Trojan Ending [dramatised version based on Laura Riding's book; later called Greeks and Trojans]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Date: 1938-01
    • Title: Lives of Wives [prose]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd.
    • Idno: A39
    • Date: 1939
    • Title: The Swiss Ghost [formerly The Kind Ghost] [novel]
    • Author: Graves, Robert/ Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1937-04-22
    • Title: Listener, The [BBC magazine]
    • Editor: Janet Adam Smith
    • PubPlace: London
    • 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: Time [Magazine]
    • PubPlace: New York