Occupation: Novelist. Height: 5’9”. Eyes: Blue gray. Hair: Light brown. Forehead: Normal. Nose: Short. Face: Long. Complexion: Pale. Chin: Normal.
That’s how the British Foreign Office in London had described Nottingham native David Herbert Lawrence, just turned 36, on the passport they issued him two years ago.
Now he is traveling from his current home in Sicily to the British consulate in Florence to get a renewal. He and his wife Frieda, 42, are feeling as though it may be time to move on.
They have been living in a beautiful hilltop home, Fontana Vecchia, since last year. They had left England during the Great War, feeling as though Frieda’s German nationality and David’s supposedly “obscene” writings were not welcome.
After traveling around Europe, David had managed to finish his most recent novel, Aaron’s Rod, this past summer, although it won’t be published until next year. His UK publisher, after much waffling, had finally brought out his Women in Love this past summer, to many negative reviews.
Lawrence has a travel piece coming out next month in The Dial magazine, but he hasn’t been writing much. Except letters to his New York publisher:
I wish I could find a ship that would carry me round the world and land me somewhere in the West—New Mexico or California—and I could have a little house and two goats, somewhere away by myself.”
With only about £40 in their British bank account, where can he and Frieda go? Maybe somewhere on a tramp steamer.
Friends are moving to Ceylon to study Buddhism, but the Lawrences have turned down their offer to join them.
David is still waiting to hear from his American agent about the current balance in his accounts there. Maybe that’s the next option.
D. H. Lawrence passport photo
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available on Amazon. For more information, email me at email@example.com.
This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.