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Robert von Ranke Graves, born in Wimbledon, received his early education at King s College School and Copthorne Prep School, Wimbledon Charterhouse School and won a scholarship to St John s College, Oxford While at Charterhouse in 1912, he fell in love with G.H Johnstone, a boy of fourteen Dick in Goodbye to All That When challenged by the headmaster he defended himself by citing Plato, Greek poets, Michelangelo Shakespeare, who had felt as I did.At the outbreak of WWI, Graves enlisted almost immediately, taking a commission in the Royal Welch Fusiliers He published his first volume of poems, Over the Brazier, in 1916 He developed an early reputation as a war poet and was one of the first to write realistic poems about his experience of front line conflict In later years he omitted war poems from his collections, on the grounds that they were too obviously part of the war poetry boom At the Battle of the Somme he was so badly wounded by a shell fragment through the lung that he was expected to die, and indeed was officially reported as died of wounds He gradually recovered Apart from a brief spell back in France, he spent the rest of the war in England.One of Graves s closest friends at this time was the poet Siegfried Sassoon, who was also an officer in the RWF In 1917 Sassoon tried to rebel against the war by making a public anti war statement Graves, who feared Sassoon could face a court martial, intervened with the military authorities and persuaded them that he was suffering from shell shock, and to treat him accordingly Graves also suffered from shell shock, or neurasthenia as it is sometimes called, although he was never hospitalised for it.Biographers document the story well It is fictionalised in Pat Barker s novel Regeneration The intensity of their early relationship is nowhere demonstratedclearly than in Graves s collection Fairies Fusiliers 1917 , which contains a plethora of poems celebrating their friendship Through Sassoon, he also became friends with Wilfred Owen, whose talent he recognised Owen attended Graves s wedding to Nancy Nicholson in 1918, presenting him with, as Graves recalled, a set of 12 Apostle spoons.Following his marriage and the end of the war, Graves belatedly took up his place at St John s College, Oxford He later attempted to make a living by running a small shop, but the business failed In 1926 he took up a post at Cairo University, accompanied by his wife, their children and the poet Laura Riding He returned to London briefly, where he split with his wife under highly emotional circumstances before leaving to live with Riding in Dei , Majorca There they continued to publish letterpress books under the rubric of the Seizin Press, founded and edited the literary journal Epilogue, and wrote two successful academic books together A Survey of Modernist Poetry 1927 and A Pamphlet Against Anthologies 1928.In 1927, he published Lawrence and the Arabs, a commercially successful biography of T.E Lawrence Good bye to All That 1929, revised and republished in 1957 proved a success but cost him many of his friends, notably Sassoon In 1934 he published his most commercially successful work,I, Claudius Using classical sources he constructed a complexly compelling tale of the life of the Roman emperor Claudius, a tale extended in Claudius the God 1935 Another historical novel by Graves, Count Belisarius 1938 , recounts the career of the Byzantine general Belisarius.During the early 1970s Graves began to suffer from increasingly severe memory loss, and by his eightieth birthday in 1975 he had come to the end of his working life By 1975 he had publishedthan 140 works He survived for tenyears in an increasingly dependent condition until he died from heart failure.
- 326 pages
- The Antigua Stamp
- Robert Graves
- 02 March 2019 Robert Graves