Robert Graves Additional Biography


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Robert Ranke Graves was born July 24, 1895, at Wimbledon, near London, England. His father, Alfred Percival Graves, a minor poet and Gaelic scholar, had remarried late in life to Amalie von Ranke; through his mother, Robert Graves was related to the distinguished German historian Leopold von Ranke. There were eventually nine children in the Graves family, including Robert, and the household was a fairly typical, late-Victorian establishment, dedicated to maintaining the conventions of society, especially those of religion. Until his teenage years, Robert, in particular, was a devoutly religious boy with a particular fastidiousness about sexual matters and an aversion to any rituals or beliefs that deviated from the strictest tenets of reformed Protestantism.

From 1910 until 1914, Graves attended Charterhouse, one of the famous English public schools. His stay at Charterhouse was generally unpleasant for several reasons. He was repulsed by the general air of homosexual affections that permeated the place but, at the same time, inadvertently encouraged such interests, as Graves himself later recognized and admitted in his autobiography, Goodbye to All That: An Autobiography (1929).

Graves was also a scholarship student, which exposed him to the cruel and snobbish mockery of his classmates. As the relationship between Great Britain and Germany steadily deteriorated during this time, Graves was further tormented because of his German middle name. Finally, he was ridiculed because of his desire to write poetry. It was practicing this talent, however, that helped make Charterhouse bearable for Graves and attracted the notice of Edward Marsh, a patron of the prevailing Georgian School of English poetry. Marsh encouraged Graves in his efforts and introduced him to other writers, helping to prepare the way for Graves’s first book of poems, Over the Brazier (1916).

Before this appeared, however, Graves had embarked on the most traumatic experience of his life, service in the trenches during World War I. Intensely patriotic, Graves had enlisted in 1914 at the outbreak of the war, joining the Royal Welch Fusiliers, one of the most notable units in the British army. Sent to France as an officer when only nineteen years old, Graves experienced the horrors, frustrations, and insanity of modern warfare. In 1916, he was severely wounded and listed as dead. His unexpected return to his family was, at least for Graves, a literal resurrection that forever marked his thinking and poetry. The war wounded Graves psychologically as well as physically. He found himself unable to face strangers, incapable of holding a regular job, and a victim of nightmares and unexplainable fears. His poetry, which had been light and lyrical, took on deeper and more brooding tones; throughout his career, he would...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Robert Graves considered himself a poet. His other work, while done to the best of his ability, was either to support himself while he wrote his poems or to explain them. He felt chosen to compose relatively short poems of praise to a universal goddess whose existence almost all others denied and in a style that many had ceased to practice. Graves was thus a strange combination of Georgian English poet and Bronze Age Greek.

He accepted that largely self-created role and prospered artistically in it, writing some of the most beautiful and enduring poetry of the twentieth century. In his verse forms and patterns, Graves is often entirely conventional, while in his underlying themes he is enduringly ancient. Above all, he remains Robert Graves, and his poems are a lasting combination of all of these elements.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Robert Graves was one of the most prolific and controversial writers of the twentieth century: poet, novelist, literary critic, biographer, lecturer, translator of ancient texts, and popularizer of mythology. Poetry was his constant love; he claimed to have written his novels only to make money. Some of his work shocked historians and theologians, and he probably influenced the feminist movement, indirectly at least, with his enthusiasm for the ancient Triple Goddess of the moon, the earth, and the underworld. A popular film was based on his biographical Lawrence and the Arabs, and a successful miniseries was written for television based on his two historical novels about the Roman emperor Claudius.{$S[A]Doyle,...

(The entire section is 719 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Robert von Ranke Graves was born on July 24, 1895, in Wimbledon, England. His father, Alfred Perceval Graves, was both a poet and inspector...

(The entire section is 361 words.)


(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Robert von Ranke Graves was one of the most prolific poets of the twentieth century, with an active career that spanned six decades. He was...

(The entire section is 518 words.)


(Novels for Students)

Robert von Ranke Graves was a noted English poet, classical scholar, translator and novelist. Born July 24, 1895, in Wimbeldon, England,...

(The entire section is 550 words.)