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This article is taken from PN Review 140, Volume 27 Number 6, July - August 2001.

Robert Graves and the Humour of Homer Neil Powell


When Robert Graves returned to Deyá, Majorca, from England on 18 May 1946, he took with him Beryl Hodge, who became his second wife soon after his divorce was finalised in 1949, and his second family - William, Lucia and Juan (their last child, Tomas, would be born in 1953). The children of his first marriage, to Nancy Nicholson, were by now grown up, but they still made claims on his time and affection: Sam, the youngest, twenty-two years old and studying architecture at Cambridge, visited Deyá the following year and promptly got lost on a mountain walk. Meanwhile, Graves's mother Amy was in her nineties: her oscillating health, in which stupendous crises alternated with still more astonishing recoveries, required him to make return trips to England. As his celebrity grew, there was an increasing stream of visitors to entertain at Canelluñ and, of course, his 'muses' - the first of whom, Judith Bledsoe, arrived on the scene in November 1950. For the children, there were tutors to pay and, after William went to Oundle in 1954, school fees to find. In one way and another, the extended family was to prove expensive: as he told a young fellow-expatriate, Alan Sillitoe, 'There are no holidays for a writer, especially when he has a large family.'

Graves was exactly that - a writer and so, whenever he was short of money, he wrote: the collection of essays he assembled in 1950 is called, ...

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