Robert Graves was born July 24, 1895, in Wimbledon, England. Graves was the eighth of his father’s 10 children. His father, Alfred Graves, married twice and was a scholar and poet. His mother was German, and his birth name, Robert von Ranke Graves, caused problems in the years before, during and after World War I.
As a child, Graves nearly died of pneumonia. He began writing as a school boy and also took up boxing.
“Since the age of 15 poetry has been my ruling passion and I have never intentionally undertaken any task or formed any relationship that seemed inconsistent with poetic principles; which has sometimes won me the reputation of an eccentric,” Graves said.
World War I
When the war began, Graves volunteered. He was wounded in 1916 and wasn’t expected to recover. In 1918, he contracted Spanish Flu.
Two collections of war poetry were published, Over the Brazier and Fairies and Fusiliers, although later in life he would distance himself from these works. His autobiography, Goodbye to All That, is said to be in reference to the death of the old world and the new way of life brought about by the war.
Graves’s best known war poems include “When I’m Killed,” “A Dead Boche” and “To Lucasta on Going to the War – for the Fourth Time.”
Graves died December 7, 1985.
Updated: 26 October 2020