Robert Graves received his early education at a series of six preparatory schools, including King's College School in Wimbledon, Penrallt in Wales, "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity." in Rugby and Copthorne in West Sussex, from which last in 1909 he won a scholarship to Charterhouse.He also sang in the choir, meeting there an aristocratic boy three years younger, G. H. "Peter" Johnstone, with whom he began an intense romantic friendship, the scandal of which led ultimately to an interview with the headmaster. Among the masters his chief influence was George Mallory, who introduced him to contemporary literature and took him mountaineering in vacations. In his final year at Charterhouse he won a classical exhibition to St John's College, Oxford, but did not take his place there until after the war.
During his long life, Robert Graves produced more than 140 works. He earned his living from writing, particularly popular historical novels. In 1927 also, he published Lawrence and the Arabs, a commercially successful biography of T. E. Lawrence. Good-bye to All That (1929, revised by him and republished in 1957) proved a success but cost him many of his friends, notably Siegfried Sassoon.
In 1934 he published his most commercially successful work, I, Claudius. Using classical sources he constructed a complex and compelling tale of the life of the Roman emperor Claudius, a tale extended in the sequel Claudius the God (1935). Another historical novel by Graves, Count Belisarius (1938), recounts the career of the Byzantine general Belisarius.
Graves and Riding left Majorca in 1936 at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and in 1939, they moved to the United States, taking lodging in New Hope, Pennsylvania. After returning to England, Graves began a relationship with Beryl Hodge, then 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 but subsequently republished several times under its original title).
In 1946 he and his new wife Beryl re-established a home in Deià, Majorca. The house is now a museum. 1946 also saw the publication of the historical novel, King Jesus. He published The White Goddess in 1948. He turned to science fiction with Seven Days in New Crete (1949), and in 1953 he published The Nazarene Gospel Restored with Joshua Podro.In 1955, he published The Greek Myths, containing translations and interpretations. His translations are well respected and continue to dominate the English-language market for mythography.
In 1967, Robert Graves published, together with Omar Ali-Shah, a new translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The translation quickly became controversial; Graves was attacked for trying to break the spell of famed passages in Edward FitzGerald's Victorian translation, and L. P. Elwell-Sutton, an orientalist at Edinburgh University, maintained that the manuscript used by Ali-Shah and Graves—which Ali-Shah and his brother Idries Shah claimed had been in their family for 800 years—was a forgery. The translation was a critical disaster, and Graves's reputation suffered severely due to what the public perceived as his gullibility in falling for the Shah brothers' deception.
On November 11, 1985 Graves was among 16 Great War poets commemorated on a slate stone unveiled in Westminster Abbey's Poet's Corner. The inscription on the stone was written by friend and fellow Great War poet Wilfred Owen. It reads: "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity." Of the 16 poets, Graves was the only one still living at the time of the commemoration ceremony.
Lawrence and the Arabs
The Greek Myths
Count Belisarius (1938)
The Story of Marie Powell: Wife to Mr. Milton (1943)
King Jesus (1946)
Watch the North Wind Rise (1949)
The Islands of Unwisdom (1949)
Homer's Daughter (1955)
They Hanged My Saintly Billy (1957)
Collected Short Stories (1964)
An Ancient Castle (1980)
Good-bye to All That (1929)
The White Goddess (1958)
In January 1918, at the age of twenty-two, Robert Graves married eighteen-year-old Nancy Nicholson, with whom he had four children. With his second wife, Beryl Pritchard, he also had four children.