Sunday, 27 April 2014

‘La Casa de Robert Graves’

One of the most famous writers to have lived in Majorca was Robert Graves. His house is now a wonderful museum and here a report from there. 

Robert Graves was an English poet, novelist and classical scholar. Mostly known for his books I, Claudius and Claudius the God he was also a renowned poet. He had to write the books to make a living. In 1929 Graves left England with his then mistress, Laura Riding. His wife and four children stayed behind. He found a place that he loved in Deià, in Majorca and has made this village known as a place for writers and artists even today. Many famous people visited him here both from the literary world and the film industry. He built a lovely house, overlooking the sea, surrounded by a wonderful garden, which is now a beautiful museum, La Casa de Robert Graves, or Ca N’Alluny, which is the Spanish name. (Yes, a lot of positive adjectives, at least I managed to use three different).

Robert Grave's study
Once you pass the entrance there is a small house to the right where you can watch a film about Graves’ life. It includes a lot of amateur films from the time that show him both in England, Majorca and the US. It lasts 14 minutes and gives a good summary of his life. The Museum is the house where he actually lived and his furniture is still there. You can see the living/dining room, kitchen, his study and the ‘printing room’ (they had a printer of their own with which they printed some of there books in the early days) on the ground floor. On the second floor we find the studies of Laura Riding and a bedroom. The other space is dedicated to a small exhibition of correspondence, books and other things connected to Robert Graves.

It is a wonderful museum, very interesting and the objects displaced is not more than you have time to go through. After the visit you can make a tour in the garden, or before for that matter. Now (mid-April) is a perfect time, and you see the orange, lemon and lime trees, colourful flowers and the beginning of the vegetable garden. The view can make you loose the time.

One of Laura Ridings offices
The relationship with Laura Riding finished when she met someone else. Graves fell in love with Beryl Hodge and they married in Palma and got three children. They lived on in Deià. The latter part of his life, about the time when BBC made a very successful TV-series of I, Claudius with a magnificent Derek Jacobi as Claudius, Robert Graves slowly went into senility and was not aware of the renaissance for his books to another generation.

Robert Graves died in Deià in 1985. He is buried in the little church, high on a hill in the village, overlooking the sea. On his stone it is written by hand:

Robert Graves
24/7/1895 - 7/12/1985

Bookcase in Robert Grave's study
Miranda Seymour's book on the left
fourth row to the right

That is how he wanted it. If you want to read more I can recommend Miranda Seymour’s biography Robert Graves Life on the Edge. The book, if you search for it, can also be found on a shelf in the small bookcase in his study.

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