The collection contains those of Robert Graves's papers which were left in his home, Canelluñ, in Deyá, Majorca, at the time of the death of his widow, Beryl Graves, in 2003. It consists of drafts of Graves's work, diaries, correspondence, press cuttings and pamphlets. Although earlier material is far from absent, the collection begins to accumulate from the date of Graves arrival in Britain from America in 1939 and goes on to substantially document his life and work upon his return to Majorca in 1946, until his death in 1985. The literary material mainly represents Graves's post-war oeuvre and exists both as substantial and multiple drafts of works and also mere fragments. Graves made many sales of his literary manuscripts during the post-war years, two principle collections being held at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Victoria, British Columbia. The material which remained at Canelluñ tended to be either later works such as 'The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayaam', or works which had not reached fruition such as the musical 'Song of Songs' or the unpublished novella 'Lollia'. There are also numerous stray fragments: Graves, with a frugal spirit cultivated in wartime, considered his drafts to be 'waste paper' and reused the versos for drafts of subsequent works, a practice which inevitably led to their fragmentation.
Another feature of Graves's working methods was the multiple revision of drafts, many of which exhibit the surefooted editing of Karl Gay, Graves's secretary in Deyá from 1947 until 1965. In addition to the literary manuscripts, the collection also contains extensive evidence of Graves's successful later parallel career in the public sphere: his Oxford poetry professorship lectures, forewords, broadcasts and journalism. Many of these works were subsequently published in anthologies of Graves's critical prose.
The correspondence held in the collection is extensive: there are over one thousand series of named correspondents and twenty-nine series of subject correspondence. These are largely, but far from exclusively, from the post-war years and cover a wide range of personal and professional relationships, projects and exchanges of ideas. The breadth of Graves's network of correspondents is substantial, but notable series include: correspondence from Graves's family; correspondence from the time of the breakdown of his marriage to Nancy Nicholson and departure for Majorca with Laura Riding in 1929; and extended correspondence with friends such as John Aldridge, Alston Anderson, Norman Cameron, Alan Hodge, Tom Matthews, Eva Meyerowitz, Alistair Reid, Lynette Roberts, Idries Shah, Alan Sillitoe and Gordon Wasson.
Other correspondence encompasses the expatriate world of Deyá and its visitors, friends in Britain, America and elsewhere, aspiring poets and writers seeking advice and encouragement, and enthusiasts and experts responding to all aspects of Graves's work, from poetry to mushrooms, witchcraft, mythology and religion. There is also correspondence generated in the course of collaborative projects: the world of Hollywood touched Graves when he and Alistair Reid sought to make a film of 'The White Goddess', and again in the attempts to make films from Graves's translation of a novel by Carlos Reyles, from his screenplay 'The World's Delight' based on the story of Aladdin, and from the novel 'I, Claudius'; the world of Broadway was invoked when Graves and his daughter, Jenny Nicholson, wrote 'Song of Songs', a musical based on the story of Solomon and Sheba. Other collaborators include Joshua Podro on 'The Nazarene Gospel Restored', Raphael Patai on 'The Hebrew Myths', and Omar Ali-Shah on 'The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayaam'. Graves's work is discussed in correspondence from publishers and his long-time agent AP Watt, and in correspondence from readers responding to specific works, including 'Goodbye to All That', 'The White Goddess', 'King Jesus', 'The Greek Myths' and 'The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayaam'. The collection also contains a substantial set of press cuttings about Graves and his work, and a number of pamphlets and offprints either accumulated by Graves as part of his research or sent unsolicited. Graves's working library formed part of Beryl Graves's bequest and has been catalogued separately.