GRAVES, Ida Florence

1902 - 1999

Ida Florence Graves

Ida Florence Graves, was born at Coonoor, Madras, India on 29 March and baptised on 3 May 1902, only child of Col. Douglas Henry MacDonell Graves (born 19 October 1867), surgeon to HM Forces in India, and his wife Mabel Alice née Petley (3 April 1878-29 June 1948) who married at the Protestant Church of St Mark's, Bangalore, Madras in August 1899 and divorced in October 1912, Mabel married the co-respondent, Capt. Reginald Frank Bidwell (6 March 1868-7 October 1936) the following year. Ida was a collateral descendant of the Bishop of Limerick, from whom the poet and writer Robert Graves was descended. At the age of six, Ida was sent to school in England and at nineteen studied English literature at University College, London, at the same time completing an evening course in sculpture at Chelsea Art School. She joined the circle of Virginia and Leonard Woolf whose Hogarth Press published her 'The China Cupboard and Other Poems' in 1929. She married at Paddington, London in 1922, Herbert Marks, with whom she had a son and a daughter, but the marriage failed and in 1930, she began an affair with the wood engraver Blair Hughes-Stanton [q.v.] with whom she also had a son and a daughter, and in 1933 they set up the Gemini Press in Essex, which published her poem 'Epithalamion' (1934) being illustrated by Blair Hughes-Stanton. In 1939, they were living at Lower Street, Stratford St Mary, Ipswich, when Ida is recorded as a writer and Hughes-Stanton, as an arist. Well known for her embroidered woollen ships and sea pictures and during the Second World War she painted scenery and sewed costumes for the Covent Garden National Ballet. Ida published the poem 'Mother and Child' in 1946 and, as Affleck Graves, published three children's books and two biographical novels, 'Willa, You're Wanted' (1952) and 'Elarna Cane' (1994). In 1953, when Ida was 50, she met Don Nevard, a jazz pianist, then half her age, who became her devoted companion, and they married at Ipswich in 1995. She died at her home at Stratford St Mary, Ipswich, Suffolk on 14 November 1999.