Home icon. The Works of Robert Graves. Exhibition: 1 April to 17 June 2011.

Cabinet 2: Family Background

Heinrich von Ranke.

Heinrich von Ranke.
Photograph with kind permission from The St John’s College Robert Graves Trust, Oxford.

Robert’s mother Amy was the eldest daughter of Heinrich Ritter von Ranke (1830–1909), professor of paediatrics at Munich University, and great-niece of the historian Leopold von Ranke.

She first met Alfred Perceval Graves, by then a widower with five children from a first marriage, on 22 October 1891. They were married in Munich on 30 December 1891, when she was 34 and he 45. When she died in 1951, it was a ‘great shock’ to her son Robert.

Not only did she instil in him strong moral and religious principles, but memorable phrases such as ‘Work is far more interesting than play.’ Here is Robert’s grandfather Heinrich posing with a shot-gun.