...with whom he could share his obsessive, almost religious, dedication to poetry.
But in 1924 he came across the poetry of the American Laura Riding, and soon began a correspondence with her, finding a great affinity with her way of thinking. At the end of 1925 he and Nancy invited Laura to visit them. This coincided with their departure to Cairo and Laura accompanied them. However, after two terms, Robert gave up his post at the University, which he described as ‘a comic opera’, adding that he had never felt so useless in his life; he returned with his family and with Laura to England.
Robert and Laura had begun a literary partnership which would last thirteen years. Graves found an intellectual match in Laura, and a mind powerful enough to jolt him out of his neurasthenia and give his poetry a new direction. Their relationship soon became intensely personal; Nancy found a friend in Laura who understood her feminist ideas, and was grateful for the beneficial effect she was having on her husband. They formed a ménage a trois, which Laura called ‘The Trinity’, much to the bafflement and increasing disapproval of family and friends. Their financial situation remained dire until Robert’s friend, T.E. Lawrence, suggested he write Lawrence and the Arabs, a personal version of his adventures for which he provided the necessary material.