Correspondence of Martin Seymour-Smith

Scope and Content

In his introduction to 'Robert Graves: His Life and Work' (1982) Seymour-Smith sets out his relationship with Graves: "I have known Graves - and his wife Beryl - very well since March 1943. My father (who used to obtain books for him) knew him before that; both were friends of the bookseller Harold Edwards. I wrote the first full-length monograph on him, in 1956 [...]. I was a frequent visitor to Galmpton during the war, and stayed with him and his wife for a long time in Mallorca in 1949. From 1951 until 1954 my wife [Janet Seymour-Smith] and I worked for and with him in Deyá and in Palma (where for much of the time we lived under the same roof). I continued to see and correspond with him in the ensuring years - and I spent a considerable amount of time with him while working on this book." In his early correspondence Seymour-Smith, a schoolboy and later on National Service in the army, writes to Graves about poetry and poets, mythology and religion and Graves's work on 'The White Goddess' and his meetings and discussions with and about James Reeves, Alun Lewis, Norman Cameron, Terence Hards, Keidrych Rhys and Lynette Roberts. Notes and letters from the summer of 1951 until 1954 cover the domestic details of life in Palma and Deyá and Will Price's sojourn in Deyá to write the film script of 'The World's Delight'. Correspondence resumes from 1976 to 1986, to Beryl Graves. These are long, dense letters arising from Seymour-Smith's biography of Graves which discuss access to correspondence, the work of his editor Sue Hogg at Hutchinsons, relations with Laura Riding, the "muses" [Seymour-Smith's term], Karl Gay, Alistair Reid, Sally Chilver and others. In the 1980s Seymour-Smith also corresponds about Paul O'Prey's volumes of letters, a proposal to edit a collection of Graves's poems, and his introduction to the third English edition of 'Seven Days in New Crete' (1983). Three letters from 1996 to 1998 reply to Beryl Graves's queries arising from her editing of Graves's 'Complete Poems'. The correspondence also contains news of his dealings with other members of Graves's family, including John Graves and Catherine Dalton, and news of his own children Charlotte and Miranda. There are occasional references to Seymour-Smith's interest in astrology. The series also contains: copy letter to Mrs Brooks; copy letter from Beryl Graves; drafts of a foreword and lists of poems for a proposed new collection of Graves's poems (c1985); and a bundle of ts texts of early poems by Seymour-Smith: these probably arrived as enclosures to items of correspondence. There are also bundles of newspaper cuttings, principally reviews of 'Robert Graves: His Life and Work', and obituaries of Seymour-Smith.


Correspondence is arranged chronologically by correspondent, although much of the earlier correspondence is undated making the order approximate; other material placed at the end of the sequence.


Canelluñ Collection number: CC0478

This refers to the arrangement of the papers in Robert Graves’ study before they were transferred to the College.