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Dalton mss., 1949-1975

Summary Information

Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
Lilly Library
Indiana University
1200 E. Seventh St.
Bloomington, IN 47405-5500
Phone: 812-855-2452
Fax: 812-855-3143

Graves, Robert, 1895-1985

Dalton mss., 1949-1975

Collection No.
LMC 1249

175 items

Materials are in English.

The Dalton mss., 1949-1975, consist chiefly of letters from poet Robert Graves, 1895-1985, to his daughter Catherine Nicholson Dalton.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Biographical Note

Robert Graves was an English poet, scholar, and novelist. In 1918, he married Nancy Nicholson with whom he eventually had four children, including Catherine Dalton. Nancy's progressive views on feminism, religion, and social issues, meant that their marriage and the children's upbringing were unconventional. Graves suffered from acute neurasthenia for most of Catherine's early years, the result of his experiences in the First World War, and this, combined with a lack of regular income from either Graves's writing or Nancy's painting, made for a tense family life.

In 1926 the American poet Laura Riding was invited to join their household in Oxford and Cairo, where Graves was lecturing at the University. Riding and Graves collaborated on a number of projects, including the seminal Survey of Modernist Poetry in 1926, but Graves's marriage did not survive. Graves left to live in Spain with Riding.

During World War II, Catherine married Clifford Dalton, a distinguished New Zealand scientist. He died in 1961 of cancer after the war when the couple was living in Australia. Catherine believed her husband had been the victim of physical and mental intimidation by unknown sources which related to both his work with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, for which he was Engineer in Chief, and to his views on the use of nuclear energy. She wrote and published a book giving her account of Professor Dalton's career and the circumstances of his death, as well as what she saw as the persecution she and her children experienced at the hands of Australian government officials after his death.

Graves supported his daughter with the writing of her book, both financially and through direct intervention, including a written appeal to the Queen, a holograph draft of which is included in the current collection, and through correcting her drafts. Catherine remained close with her father and although her permanent home is in Australia, during Graves's later years she spent long periods of time with him in Deyá.


Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content Note

Graves's letters are both intimate and humorous and cover a wide range of topics including family life, friends, Graves's writing, the work and death of Catherine's husband, and politics. Some of the letters have appended notes from Robert's second wife, Beryl and there are a couple of letters from Beryl alone to Catherine. Also present in the correspondence files are a few letters from Robert to Catherine's children and their spouses; one to Clifford Dalton just before his death; one to Robert's sister Rosaleen; two drafts and a final typed copy of one to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II; one to the Spanish Minister of Tourism, Manuel Fraga; a letter to Robert and a draft of one from him to Idries Shah; and a draft to the official organizer of the Pushkin celebrations in Moscow, declining an invitation to attend.

In addition to the letters there are several holograph notes and fragments made by Catherine Dalton, annotated drafts of two poems by Robert Graves, and a folder of newspaper clippings and miscellaneous printed items.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Purchase. 1997.
Usage Restrictions
Prior arrangements are not necessary before coming to the Library, however, patrons from out of town are encouraged to communicate with the Library in advance of their visits to ascertain availability of materials.

Photocopying permitted only with permission of the Curator of Manuscripts, Lilly Library.

Preferred Citation
[Item], Dalton mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
Processing Information
Processed by Staff.

Completed in 2013

Dalton mss., 1949-1975

Folder 1 Correspondence, 1949-1959

Folder 2 Correspondence, 1960-1962

Includes letter from Idries Shah to Graves, Jan. 26, 1961, enclosed in Graves's letter to Catherine Dalton, of Jan. 28, 1961; also Graves to Clifford Dalton, Mar. 1, 1961

Folder 3 Correspondence, 1963-1965

Folder 4 Correspondence, 1966-1969

Includes copies of Graves's letter to his sister, Rosaleen Cooper, Jan. 10,1968; a draft of a letter from him to Idries Shah, Sept. 17, 1968; and draft of his letter to Manuel Fraga, ca. 1968

Folder 5 Correspondence, 1970

Includes drafts and final copy of letter to Queen Elizabeth II, April 17

Folder 6 Correspondence, 1971

Folder 7 Correspondence, 1972-1975

Folder 8 Correspondence, undated

Includes letters from Beryl (Pritchard) Graves

Folder 9 Envelopes without postmarks

Folder 10 Dalton, Catherine: Notes, fragments, addresses

Folder 11 Graves, Robert: Poems

Folder 12 Printed.

Includes clippings, posters, etc.