24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985
Robert Graves was an English poet, novelist, critic, classicist and student of Celtic, Greek and Hebrew mythology. He produced more than 140 works between novels, essays, poetry, drama, children’s books and reference works. Graves’s poems, together with his translations and innovative analyses and interpretations of the Greek myths; his memoir of his early life and military service during the First World war, Good-Bye to All That, and his speculative study of poetic inspiration, The White Goddess, have never been out of print.
In 1926, he took up a post at Cairo University, accompanied by his first wife, Nancy Nicholson, their four children and the poet Laura Riding. He returned to London briefly, where he split up with his wife before leaving England to live with Riding in Deià, Majorca. Graves and Riding left Majorca in 1936 at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and in 1939 they moved to the United States with several collaborators to work on a project in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Their volatile relationship ended in their eventual breakup. After returning to England, Graves began a relationship with Beryl Hodge, the wife of Alan Hodge, his collaborator on The Long Week-End (1941) and The Reader Over Your Shoulder (1943; republished in 1947 as The Use and Abuse of the English Language).
In 1946, he and Beryl re-established a home with their three children, in Deia, Mallorca. Robert became a magnet for many artists and academics from all over the world. They came to Deià to visit him and, in many cases, stayed on.
His influence in Deià was huge. He helped save the village from the intrusion of mass tourism by insisting that the architecture should be of the same style as the existing stone-faced houses. They do so to this day. From the 1950’s he would galvanise the locals and visitors to stage theatre performances and poetry readings, first in the old quarry behind the house and later in the little amphitheatre built by his nephew below his house. He was a familiar and debonair figure in the village. He would walk down at the little beach of Deia for his daily swim, collecting salt from the rocks and chatting with the locals. He lived to a ripe old age and was loved and respected by the Mallorquin and foreign residents of Deia alike.
He is buried in the little cemetery behind the church on top of the hill. People still come to see his grave (where many leave poems) and to visit the house in which he lived, today the CASA MUSEO ROBERT GRAVES, CA N’ALLUNY