As students become immersed in their classes and the semester moves forward, one inevitable question can be heard across campus: “What are you doing your research project on?”

For many students the challenge of a successful research project lies in balancing an interesting topic with resources that can be accessed and analyzed before the end of semester or due date. As part of its commitment to serving as a preeminent center of learning and information, Milner Library is pleased to announce that the Robert Graves Collection of John and Katherine Presley is available to patrons.

“There are many intriguing directions to explore in Graves’ work,” said Dean Dane Ward, who was instrumental in bring the collection to Milner Library. “He is perhaps best known for his well-researched historical fiction, including the I, Claudius series. However, his early autobiography, Goodbye to All That, controversially depicted the life of a World War I veteran, and what has become known as post-traumatic stress syndrome.”

In addition to writing historical fiction and an autobiography, Graves was also a poet, translated and interpreted a large number of mythological tales, reinterpreted British mythology in The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, and reworked the story of early Christianity in The Nazarene Gospel Restored.

This collection of Graves material was donated to Milner Library by former ISU provost and Graves scholar John Presley and his wife, Katherine, who was a strong supporter of ISU and Milner Library.

“The Robert Graves collection I donated to Milner is a rare book collection in the sense that there aren’t many copies of some of the books around to be consulted and evaluated by scholars,” said Presley. “There are some autographed copies, some books that are clear variations on what bibliographers have described, some very rare WW II versions, first editions, even Canadian first editions.”

While many of the volumes in the collection are rare or unique works in their own right, Ward notes that “it is a relatively rare event for an academic library to receive a collection of works that have been carefully developed over the lifetime of such a well-regarded scholar as John Presley.”

This collection encompasses the wide range of Graves’ writing, allows students to access the same sources a prominent Graves scholar used in his research, and further build on Presley’s scholarship or go in new directions.

“I hope that faculty and students can look at pieces such as the drafts of the proposed I, Claudius film scripts and work together on issues like draft sequences, revision patterns, and even authenticity and authorship,” Presley said. “And if they care to look at drafts and notes of my own work on these and similar issues, I would be very pleased, indeed!”

Milner Library is pleased to make these materials available, and a list of items in the collection can be viewed online through the library catalog. The materials themselves may be accessed in the Special Collections Department of Milner Library.