During my first week as a Student Assistant in the Donohue Rare Book Room I was able to work with sources from the Robert Graves collection. This sparked my interest in learning more about the author and why the Rare Book Room would have such an impressive selection.
Robert Graves was born in Wimbledon on the 24th of July, 1895. Graves displayed a talent for writing poetry early in his life. After he finished his secondary education he received a scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford, but he instead enlisted in the Royal Welch Fusiliers after the outbreak of WWI. At the battle of the Somme he was critically wounded by fragments from an artillery shell that had exploded near him. Graves was actually reported dead due to the severity of these injuries. He recovered and was one of the rare survivors of the “lost generation.” During his recovery time Graves began working on his first novel that would remain unpublished.
Graves then began his career of writing novels, prose, and poetry. Although his novels were more commercially successful, it is stated that Graves wished to be remembered as a poet first and as a novelist second. Graves passed away on the 7th of December, 1985.
I found this information in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, one of the library’s databases.
The Robert Graves collection in the Rare Book Room features handwritten drafts of poems, doodles, and personal correspondence with family members and friends. This collection provides a glimpse into Grave’s process of writing poetry. Some of these poems would later be published in his collections Man Does, Woman Is (1964) and Collected Poems (1975).
The Donohue Rare Book Room holds many interesting collections that are available for browsing. I highly encourage students and faculty alike to explore and utilize the Rare Book Room.