‘This is a little story I’m writing about the Emperor Claudius. Will you type it for me?
So asked Graves to Mary Ellidge, who turned his spidery handwriting into a manuscript entitled I Claudius, one of Graves’s most popular books.
When this first person narrative was published in May 1934, it received rave reviews and achieved excellent sales. It and the sequel Claudius the God (1935) won for Graves the coveted James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
In 1976, the tale was successfully televised, with Derek Jacobi as Claudius and Brian Blessed as Augustus.
Paperback editions such as these Penguin issues meant that more readers could enjoy what are now regarded as classic works. In 2005, I Claudius was chosen by Time magazine as one of 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present.