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Antigua, Penny, Puce & They Hanged my Saintly Billy
ISBN: 978 1 857545 84 5
Imprint: Carcanet Fiction
Published: January 2003
215 x 135 x 41 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Antigua, Penny, Puce (1937), a barbed tale of sibling rivalry, gave its title to a never-issued one penny puce-and-white stamp from Antigua with George VI's portrait on it and three puce pigs eating at a puce trough. Jane and Oliver are the siblings who fight for possession of the stamp. Philip Larkin praisede it as 'unique among novels' for 'its variety of original invention, not to mention its humour'. It can be read as a political parable about colonialism and the conflict in Spain between Communists and the Fascists.
They Hanged my Saintly Billy (1957), Graves' last major novel, is subtitled The Life & Death of Dr William Palmer and, like much of Graves' fiction, is based on fact, in this case the life of a notorious surgeon, racehorse owner and a confessed forger who got girls into trouble, doped horses, robbed a few people. But, Graves' novel asks, was he a poisoner? Palmer's actual trial took place in 1856, and the novel, as we would expect of a writer with Gfraves' classic skills, has all the immediacy and spiciness of contemporary life. It is told through interviews with Palmer's friends and foes, and we are involved in piecing the tale together.
Programme editor: Patrick Quinn
Praise for Robert Graves 'There is eloquence, wit and a formal shapeliness in abundance from first to last.'
Michael Glover, Financial Times 10/02/01 'While poetry schools came and went, Graves went on writing until his death in 1985, in an elegant, classically inspired style.'
Andrew Crumey, Scotland on Sunday 07/01/01 'No one else offers his precise combination of eroticism, nightmare and epigram.'
Sean O'Brien, The Guardian 13/01/01 'Graves experiences in the trenches of the First World War are most vivid and moving.'
Robert Nye, Scotsman on Sunday, 16/12/00 'In his attitude to verse he remained a Georgian, an eccentric one.'
Eric Hester, Catholic Times 20/02/00 'Graves enshrines his archetypal motifs of obsessive love in legendary contexts from which the contemporary world is resolutely excluded.'
Mark Ford, The London Review of Books 'One of the twentieth century's major writers.'
Richard Foster, Yorkshire Evening Press Graves is a poet and a visionary in his prose writings, always stimulating and frequently enlightening.
Patrick Reilly, The Herald
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