"I, Claudius" was published in 1934. by Robert Graves. It is written as an autobiography of the Roman Emperor, Claudius. It starts at the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and ends with the assassination of Caligula in 41 AD. This book was chosen as one of the hundred best English novels. Claudius was reviled by … [Read more...] about I, Claudius
Robert Graves was born in 1895 in London. He was the third of five children. His father Alfred Graves was a school inspector and a Gaelic scholar. He wrote the song, "Father O'Flynn." Three times in his life Graves came close to death. The first was when he was seven years old. He was struck with double pneumonia and measles. The second time was a wound during World War I. Then the last was during the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918.
Graves had a tough time in school. Due to his German sounding name, his tendency to be outspoken, his poverty and his leanings toward a scholarly and moral way of life led him to take up boxing, write poetry and act mad. He was also homosexual and began a relationship with another young boy he met while in a choir.
While in the first World War, he was known as a war poet. He became friends with another poet, Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon's outspoken complaints against the war effort made Graves fear he would face a court-martial. Graves enforced the idea that Sassoon was suffering from shell shock and he was sent to a hospital instead. Although Graves suffered from it too, he was never hospitalized.
In 1918. Graves came down with the Spanish Flu. He didn't want to suffer it in Ireland, he deserted the army and traveled to England. When he reached Waterloo, he didn't have the necessary papers until he met a demobilization officer who wrote the papers up for him with all the secret codes he needed to make his release legal.
After the War Graves married and began to have children. But he was poor and weak physically and mentally. In 1919 he began at the University of Oxford. He became a member of the Fellow of All Souls with T. E. Lawrence. He became an atheist.
Graves tried to run a small shop, but it failed in 1926. Then he left for Cairo University to teach. He was accompanied by his wife and children as well as the poet, Laura Riding. For a short time, he went to London. Riding tried to commit suicide causing Graves to leave his wife and move in with her in Majorca.
In 1927.Graves wrote a biography of T. E. Lawrence titled, "Lawrence of the Arabs." There followed "Good-Bye to All That"; "I, Claudius"; "Claudius the God"; "Count Belisarius," to name a few. He and Riding left Majorca in 1939 and moved to New Hope, Pennsylvania. Their relationship was tumultuous.
When it ended, he moved back to Britain and began an adulterous relationship with Beryl Hodge, the wife of his collaborator on The Long Week-End published in 1941 and "The Reader Over Your Shoulder."
He and Beryl sat up housekeeping with their three children in Majorca. There he kept writing everything from historical to science fiction novels. He even wrote a book of myths, The Greek Myths in 1955.
In 1962 Graves was considered for the Novel Prize in Literature. He was not given the Prize because he was known as primarily a poet. By his eightieth birthday, Graves was beginning to suffer from memory loss. He lived another ten years but became more and more invalid.
He died in 1985 at the age of ninety. Robert Graves was buried in Deia, in Mallorca, on a sacred hill to the White Goddess of Pelion.