ARRIVAL IN DEIÀ (1929-1936)

1929 - 1936


When Robert and Laura left England in October 1929, they visited their friend Gertrude Stein in Framce who recommended...

...Majorca as a good place to live. Once in Palma they went up to the village of Deià; which they liked – its situation between cliffs and sea, reminded Robert of Harlech – and there they rented a house. The printing-press was shipped over from England and they resumed their writing and printing work. For the next few years Laura would always be surrounded by hard-working friends, over whom she exerted her astonishing intellectual power, allowing or forbidding people to join her entourage and become a part of her “inner circle”.

The publication of Good-bye to All That in November 1929, with its frank condemnation of the public school system and describing the real conditions in the trenches, turned Robert Graves into a controversial figure, but the book was an enormous success and brought financial relief, allowing him to build a house among terraced olive groves outside Deià, which they called Ca n’Alluny (The Far House). From the begining they made good friends among the villagers, especially with Juan Marroig (“Gelat”) and his family. When Laura heard that a German wanted to buy land opposite the house, she Laura decided to buy these terraces and another plot down by the sea and build a linking road, with a hotel to pay for it, and a ‘university’ for her teach in.

In March 1932 Laura and Robert moved into Ca n’Alluny (open to the public), but Laura’s entrepreneurial ideas brought on a financial crisis, and they had to mortgage the house. Robert’s prose of this period, under Laura’s influence, had made virtually no money, and he was forced to sit down and write a book that would sell. I, Claudius, his brilliant recreation of the Roman Empire, was an immediate success and won Graves two major literary prizes: the James Tait Black Memorial and the Hawthornden.

The intimate relationship between Graves and Riding was tense; Graves sublimated her in his poetry, and beheld her as an almost divine figure, but his love was not reciprocated. Her cold dismissal of Graves’s two major successes, his autobiography and later the Claudius novels, masked a strong sense of jealousy, for her own attempts at prose had never sold and her poetry would not be fully recognized for another fifty years.