The E-BNR aims to build a comprehensive & unique cross-artform guide to
the British neo-Romantic tradition,
from 1880 to the present day.
While the British Romantics of 1789-1824 have spawned a vast industry of
publishers, conferences & tourism, the later neo-Romantic traditions
remain largely neglected. The E-BNR is aimed at bringing this hidden
tradition to light.
PayPal donations are very welcome! Click the
button below to make a small donation to ongoing site costs. Thanks!
WHAT IS NEO-ROMANTICISM ?
Neo-Romantic artists have drawn their inspiration
from artists of the age of Romanticism or earlier.
Characteristic themes in their work include a
mystical approach to the British landscape...
ENTRY: Graves, Robert
Robert Graves (b. 24 July 1895 – d. 7 December 1985)
was an English scholar, poet, and novelist. During his long life, he produced more than
140 works in total. He was the son of the Anglo-Irish writer Alfred Perceval Graves.
Born in Wimbledon, London, Graves received his schooling at Charterhouse
and won a scholarship to St John's College, Oxford University.
However, with the outbreak of the First World War he instead enlisted almost immediately
in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. At the Battle of the Somme in 1916 he received such
serious injuries that his family were informed of his death. However,
he recovered, at the cost of permanent damage to his lungs, and, after
a brief spell back in France, spent the remainder of the war in England,
despite his efforts to return to the front.
Following his marriage and the end of the war, Graves eventually entered
St John's College, Oxford. In 1926 he took up a post at Cairo University,
He later left his wife to live with Laura Riding on the island of Majorca, where they
published letterpress books under the rubric of the Seizin Press.
Graves and Riding were forced to leave Majorca in 1936 due to the Spanish Civil War.
After the war Graves re-established a home on the island. In 1948 he published
the controversial and influential The White Goddess.
A study of the nature of poetic myth-making, The White Goddess proposed the existence
of a European deity, the White Goddess of Birth, Love and Death, represented
by the phases of the moon, who he argued lies behind the faces of the
diverse goddesses of various European mythologies. In this work,
Graves argued that "true poetry" or "pure poetry" has inextricable
links with ancient cult-ritual of his proposed White Goddess.
Graves described The White Goddess as "a historical grammar of the language
of poetic myth." The book draws from mythology and poetry from Wales and
Ireland and Europe. The book was influential although originally only read by scholars and a few poets, but as
interest in goddess-based religions increased since the 1960s,
the public demand for books about the alleged roots of goddess worship has increased as well.
A simplified version of Graves's goddess religion has become the faith of dozens of
In 1961 he became professor of poetry at Oxford, a post he held until 1966.
In his poetry, Graves was an iconoclast, decrying many of the developments of the
modernist schools of poetry, and holding highly individual views about the value
of many works in the literary canon. His home in Majorca became something o
f a Mecca for iconoclasts and rebels of all sorts, and people as diverse as
Len Lye, William Gaddis and Robert Wyatt made the pilgrimage. Holding that love
was the only true subject for poetry, Graves confined most
of his poetry to short lyrics, many of which require an understanding
of The White Goddess for full comprehension.
Graves died in 1985, and was buried in the small churchyard on the hill in Deia,
overlooking the sea on the coast of Majorca.