Sunday, July 24, 2016

BIRTH | July 24–Robert Graves

Robert Graves (1895-1985).
This day in 1895 was born English poet and prolific novelist Robert von Ranke Graves, who is related by marriage to the MacDonnell family of Dublin. Born in Wimbledon, Robert was one of 10 children born to Alfred Perceval Graves, a Celtic scholar, and Amalie, related to historian Leopold von Ranke.

Robert wrote three books of verse while an officer on the Western Front during World War I. He was badly wounded in 1916, and again in 1918, and for years he battled the physical and psychological effects of the Great War.  Good-Bye to All That (1929) is his successful memoir of the war, which allowed him to move to Majorca with American poet Laura Riding.

He wrote more than 120 books, including  I, Claudius (1934), The Golden Fleece (1944), and the controversial book, The White Goddess; A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth (1948), in which he recommends abandoning patriarchal gods and relying on a female deity.

He wrote in "A Case for Xanthippe" (1960) that poetry is a
practical, humorous, reasonable way of being ourselves. Of never acquiescing in a fraud; of never accepting the secondary-rate in poetry, painting, music, love, friends. Of safeguarding our poetic institutions against the encroachments of mechanized, insensate, inhumane, abstract rationality.
The Graves family is related to the MacDonnell family through the Rev. Richard MacDonnell, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. In the first sentence of his history of the MacDonnell family, Hercules H. Graves MacDonnell (in  September 1892, writing at 4 Roby Place, Kingstown, now Dun Laoghaire) writes:
In the "Notes on the Graves Family," printed in 1889, when referring (p. 15) to the marriage of Jane Graves with the Rev. Richard MacDonnell, Provost, T.C.D., it was stated that no detailed account of their descendants was given, "as it would occupy undue space." 
Richard MacDonnell married on Jan. 26, 1810 Jane, the second daughter of the Very Rev. Richard Graves, Dean of Armagh.
Very Rev. Richard Graves, D.D., was born 1 Oct. 1763 in Kilfinnane, Co. Limerick, Ireland, and died in March 1829 in Raheny, Co. Dublin. He was made a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1786. In 1807, he published his important work, The Pentateuch, and in 1813 was made Professor of Divinity in Dublin University, and Dean of Ardagh. He married Elizabeth (“Eliza”) Mary Drought, daughter of Rev. James Drought, F.T.C.D. and Prof. of Divinity, and Elizabeth Maria Campbell, on 1 Aug. 1787. She was born in Oct. 1763 in Co. Offaly, Ireland, and died 27 March 1827 in Harcourt St., Dublin, Ireland. (R1, R3, R12) 
Jane survived her husband, and died Jan. 8, 1882, 88 years old, at Rostrevor-terrace, Rathgar, and was interred at St. Paul's, Bray (MacDonnell history, pp. 29-30).

Rev. MacDonnell in his spare time was a developer and put together a row of "cottages" called "Sorrento" after the Italian resort town on the Bay of Naples. These cottages in Dalkey are now the most expensive row of homes in Ireland.

(Thanks to Garrison Keillor and Randal Marlin for information in this post.)

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