Books

The Big Green Book

Robert Graves

The little boy Jack discovers a big green book of magic in the attic, and learns all sorts of spells – spells to change the look of things, spells to make him old and grey, or disappear entirely! Of course I can't tell you how all these things were done, because this was a long time ago and the big green book has now disappeared. But if you want to read about what Jack did with his new magic powers, and how his poor old aunt and uncle were quite bewildered, then take a look inside...

An enchanting, strange and sometimes chilling tale, masterfully illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

The Twelve Caesars

Suetonius (and others)

'Twenty-three dagger thrusts went home as he stood there. Caesar did not utter a sound...'

This vivid, racy account of the men who wielded absolute power over ancient Rome - including maniacs, tyrants, warriors, sadists and murderers - is the source for nearly everything we know about one of the most dramatic periods in history.

Ten new titles in the colourful, small-format, portable new Pocket Penguins series

Good-bye to All That

Robert Graves (and others)

"There was no patriotism in the trenches. It was too remote a sentiment, and rejected as fit only for civilians. A new arrival who talked patriotism would soon be told to cut it out. As Blighty, Great Britain was a quiet, easy place to get back to out of the present foreign misery, but as a nation it was nothing."

This is the original version of Robert Graves's intense memoir of the First World War, restoring this raw, emotionally truthful, darkly comic work to the way it was first written, by a young man still reeling from the trenches.

'We see the dark heart of the book even more clearly, and hear it beating even more loudly, in this original edition than we do in the comparatively careful and considered terms of the later one' Andrew Motion


'One of the most candid self-portraits, warts and all, ever painted' TLS

The Greek Myths (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Robert Graves

Including many of the greatest stories ever told - the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus's journey home - Robert Graves's superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version.

With a novelist's skill and a poet's eye, Graves draws on the entire canon of ancient literature, bringing together all the elements of every myth into one epic and unforgettable story. Ideal for the first time reader, it can be read as a single, continuous narrative, while full commentaries, with cross-references, interpretations, variants and explanations, as well as a comprehensive index of names, make it equally valuable as a work of scholarly reference for anyone seeking an authoritative and detailed account of the gods, heroes and extraordinary events that provide the bedrock of Western literature.

The result is a classic among classics, a treasure trove of extraordinary tales and a masterful work of literature in its own right.

Homer's Daughter

Robert Graves

In Homer's Daughter Robert Graves recreates the Odyssey. This bold retelling of the ancient epic imagines that its author was not the blind and bearded Homer of legend, but a young woman in Western Sicily who calls herself Nausicaä. In Robert Graves's words, Homer's Daughter is 'the story of a high-spirited and religious-minded Sicilian girl who saves her father's throne from usurpation, herself from a distasteful marriage, and her two younger brothers from butchery by boldly making things happen, instead of sitting still and hoping for the best.'

Seven Days in New Crete

Robert Graves

Edward Venn-Thomas lives in the twentieth century but has been mysteriously transported to the future, and the apparently idyllic society of New Create, where there is no hunger, no war and no dissatisfaction. However Venn-Thomas is starting to find life among the New Cretans rather dull. He comes to realize that their perfect existence, inspired by the poets and magicians of their strange occultic religion, lacks one fundamental thing - evil. So Venn-Thomas sees it as nothing less than his duty to introduce them to the darker side of life. First published in 1949 and also known as Watch the North Wind Rise, Graves's novel is a thrilling blend of utopian fantasy, science fiction and mythology.

Sergeant Lamb of the Ninth

Robert Graves

Robert Graves first came across the name of Roger Lamb in 1914, when Graves was an English officer instructing his platoon in regimental history. Lamb was a British soldier who had served his king during the American War of Independence, and whose claim to a footnote in history is that he managed to escape twice from American prison camps. When Graves went to America in the 1930s, he remembered Sergeant Lamb, investigated his story and created this fictionalized memoir telling Lamb's story from his Irish childhood to war and revolution, weaving a mesmerizing tale of courage and adventure.

The Golden Fleece

Robert Graves

In order to reclaim his father's kingdom, Jason has been sent on an impossible mission - to take the golden ram's fleece that lies far away, guarded by a dragon. Jason, who is so attractive that women fall instantly in love with him, sets sail in the Argo, along with the greatest heroes of ancient Greece, including the surly (and often drunk) Hercules, the enchanting musician Orpheus and the battling twins Castor and Pollux. As they battle clashing rocks, monsters and seductresses, watched over by pitiless gods, they will learn that victory comes at a price.

In The Golden Fleece Robert Graves transforms Greek myth into a thrilling and richly imagined story, bringing the ancient world vividly alive.

King Jesus

Robert Graves

Robert Graves's controversial historical novel is a bold reworking of the story of Christ. Here Jesus is not the son of God, but the result of a secret marriage - the descendant of Herod and true King of the Jews. Written from the perspective of a lowly official at the end of the first century AD, King Jesus recounts Jesus's birth, youth, life as a charismatic 'wonder worker' and the unorthodox, bitter nature of his death and resurrection. Portraying Jesus not as divine but as a flawed human bent upon his own doom, this retelling of the gospels is a compelling blend of research, imagination and narrative power.

Wife to Mr Milton

Robert Graves

Marie Powell is sixteen when her father marries her to the poet John Milton in payment of a debt. They move to a pretty garden-house in London, but she struggles to adjust to her new life. Her husband is high-minded and unyielding, and only makes Marie long for the man she really loves. As Civil War sweeps across England and the King is killed, a battle starts to rage between husband and wife - one that only the powerful can win.

Told through the fictional journals of Milton's wife, Robert Graves's sympathetic and sensitive reconstruction of her tragic life is also a convincing, linguistically rich portrait of seventeenth-century England as it is ravaged by war.

The Greek Myths

Robert Graves

Classicist and poet Robert Graves's superb two-volume retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version. Drawing on the entire canon of ancient literature, Graves weaves together all the elements of every myth into a single harmonious narrative. Ideal for the first time reader, it is also accompanied by commentaries, cross-references, variants and explanations that make it equally valuable as a work of scholarly reference. The result is a dazzling and comprehensive account of the gods and monsters, the heroic feats and appalling tragedies of ancient Greece, many of them among the greatest stories ever told.

In this second volume, Graves recounts the tragedies of Oedipus, Iphigineia and Medea, the labours of Hercules, the voyages of Odysseus, the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts, the epic story of the Trojan War, as well as many, many others.

The Greek Myths

Robert Graves

Classicist and poet Robert Graves's superb two-volume retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version. Drawing on the entire canon of ancient literature, Graves weaves together all the elements of every myth into a single harmonious narrative. Ideal for the first time reader, it is also accompanied by commentaries, cross-references, variants and explanations that make it equally valuable as a work of scholarly reference. The result is a dazzling and comprehensive account of the gods and monsters, the heroic feats and appalling tragedies of ancient Greece, many of them among the greatest stories ever told.

Included in this first volume are the great creation myths, the heroic tales of Perseus and Theseus, the tragedies of Orpheus and Icarus, the stories of the gods Aphrodite, Hermes, Apollo and Dionysus, as well as many, many others.

Goodbye to All That

Robert Graves

'There has been a lot of fighting hereabouts. The trenches have made themselves rather than been made, and run inconsequently in and out of the big thirty-foot high stacks of bricks; it is most confusing. The parapet of a trench which we don't occupy is built up with ammunition boxes and corpses . . .'

In one of the most honest and candid self-portraits ever committed to paper, Robert Graves tells the extraordinary story of his experiences as a young officer in the First World War. He describes life in the trenches in vivid, raw detail, how the dehumanizing horrors he witnessed left him shell-shocked. They were to haunt him for the rest of his life.

The Greek Myths

Robert Graves

The Greek Myths is the definitive and comprehensive edition of Robert Graves's classic imaginative and poetic retelling of the Greek myths.

'Icarus disobeyed his father's instructions and began soaring towards the sun, rejoiced by the lift of his great sweeping wings. Presently, when Daedalus looked over his shoulder, he could no longer see Icarus; but scattered feathers floated on the waves below...'

Including many of the greatest stories ever told - the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus's journey home - Robert Graves's superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version.

With a novelist's skill and a poet's eye, Graves draws on the entire canon of ancient literature, bringing together all the elements of every myth into one epic and unforgettable story. Ideal for the first time reader, it can be read as a single, continuous narrative, while full commentaries, with cross-references, interpretations, variants and explanations, as well as a comprehensive index of names, make it equally valuable as a work of scholarly reference for anyone seeking an authoritative and detailed account of the gods, heroes and extraordinary events that provide the bedrock of Western literature.

The result is a classic among classics, a treasure trove of extraordinary tales and a masterful work of literature in its own right.

The Anger of Achilles

Robert Graves

War is raging between the Greeks and the Trojans. Achilles, the great warrior champion of the Greek army, is angrily sulking in his tent and refusing to fight, after a row with his leader Agamemnon. But when the Trojan king Hector kills Achilles’ beloved friend, he plunges back into the battle to seek his bloody revenge – even though he knows it will bring about his own doom.

Robert Graves’s gripping, vigorous retelling of The Iliad portrays quarrelling kings and tarnished heroes, who leave suffering women behind them and are watched over by capricious gods and goddesses. It takes a revered classic back to its roots as popular entertainment.

Complete Short Stories

Robert Graves (and others)

The ever-popular novelist and story-teller Robert Graves wrote fascinating and durable stories, here collected together in a single volume for the first time by the poet's daughter Lucia Graves.

The Twelve Caesars

Robert Graves (and others)

An essential primary source on Roman history, Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars is a fascinating achievement of scholarship covering a critical period in the Empire. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Latin by Robert Graves, author of I, Claudius, revised with an introduction and notes by James B. Rives.

As private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian, the scholar Suetonius had access to the imperial archives and used them (along with eyewitness accounts) to produce one of the most colourful biographical works in history. The Twelve Caesars chronicles the public careers and private lives of the men who wielded absolute power over Rome, from the foundation of the empire under Julius Caesar and Augustus, to the decline into depravity and civil war under Nero and the recovery that came with his successors. A masterpiece of observation, anecdote and detailed physical description, The Twelve Caesars presents us with a gallery of vividly drawn - and all too human - individuals.

James B. Rives has sensitively updated Robert Graves's now classic translation, reinstating Latin terms and updating vocabulary while retaining the liveliness of the original. This edition contains a new chronology, further reading, glossaries, maps, notes and an introduction discussing Suetonius' life and works.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus was probably born in AD69 - the famous 'year of the four Emperors'. From the letters of Suetonius' close friend Pliny the Younger we learn that he practiced briefly at the bar, avoided political life, and became chief secretary to the Emperor Hadrian (AD117-38). Suetonius seems to have lived to a good age and probably died around the year AD140.

If you enjoyed The Twelve Caesars, you might like Tacitus's The Annals of Imperial Rome, also available in Penguin Classics.

'Suetonius, in holding up a mirror to those Caesars of diverting legend, reflects not only them but ourselves: half-tempted creatures, whose great moral task is to hold in balance the angel and the monster within'
Gore Vidal

Claudius the God

Robert Graves (and others)

Continuing the saga begun in I, Claudius, Robert Graves's Claudius the God is a compelling fictional autobiography of the Roman emperor, published with an introduction by Barry Unsworth in Penguin Modern Classics.

Claudius has survived the murderous intrigues of his predecessors to become, reluctantly, Emperor of Rome. Here he recounts his surprisingly successful reign: how he cultivates the loyalty of the army and the common people to repair the damage caused by Caligula; his relations with the Jewish King Herod Agrippa; and his invasion of Britain. But the growing paranoia of absolute power and the infidelity of his promiscuous young wife Messalina mean that his good fortune will not last forever. In this second part of Robert Graves's fictionalized autobiography, Claudius - wry, rueful, always inquisitive - brings to life some of the most scandalous and violent times in history.

If you enjoyed Claudius the God, you might like Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'I, Claudius and Claudius the God are an imaginative and hugely readable account of the early decades of the Roman Empire ... racy, inventive, often comic'
Daily Telegraph

'One of the really remarkable books of our day, a novel of learning and imagination, fortunately conceived and brilliantly executed'
The New York Times

'Graves made Roman history funny and familiar'
Guardian

Count Belisarius

Robert Graves (and others)

The sixth century was not a peaceful time for the Roman empire. Invaders threatened on all fronties, but they grew to respect and fear the name of Belisarius, the Emperor Justinian's greatest general. With this book Robert Graves again demonstrates his command of a vast historical subject, creating a startling and vivid picture of a decadent era.

I, Claudius

Robert Graves (and others)

Bringing to life the subterfuge and double-dealing of Roman nobility, Robert Graves's I, Claudius brings the ancient world to life with startling clarity and meticulous realism. This Penguin Modern Classics edition is a includes an introduction by Barry Unsworth.

Despised for his weakness and regarded by his family as little more than a stammering fool, the nobleman Claudius quietly survives the intrigues, bloody purges and mounting cruelty of the imperial Roman dynasties. In I, Claudius he watches from the sidelines to record the reigns of its emperors: from the wise Augustus and his villainous wife Livia to the sadistic Tiberius and the insane excesses of Caligula. Written in the form of Claudius' autobiography, this is the first part of Robert Graves's brilliant account of the madness and debauchery of ancient Rome, and stands as one of the most celebrated, gripping historical novels ever written.

If you enjoyed I, Claudius, you might like Graves's sequel Claudius the God, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'An imaginative and hugely readable account of the early decades of the Roman Empire ... racy, inventive, often comic'
Daily Telegraph

'Still an acknowledged masterpiece and a model for historical fiction ... sympathetic and intensely involving: a great feat of imagination'
Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall

Biography

Robert Graves was born in 1895 in Wimbledon. He went from school to the First World War, where he became a captain in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Somme. He wrote his autobiography, Goodbye to All That, in 1929, and it was soon established as a modern classic. He died on 7 December 1985 in Majorca, his home since 1929.