“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, Christmas, 1922, Del Monte Ranch, near Taos, New Mexico

Happy Christmas!

This has never been the favorite holiday for English writer David Herbert Lawrence, 37. Last year he was fine staying in bed with a persistent case of flu.

But this year Lawrence is actually enjoying himself. His American publisher, Thomas Seltzer, 47, and his wife Adele, 46, have come to visit Lawrence and his German wife Frieda, 43, at their ranch here.

Del Monte Ranch

In preparation for the trip, Frieda had written to Adele: 

You will find it a different sort of life after New York—bring warm clothes and old clothes and riding things if you like riding—It’s primitive to say the least of it—but plenty of wood and cream and chickens.”

With the clean, dry scent of pine-log fires coming from the fireplace, the two couples have been cooking roasted chicken, bread, Christmas pudding, and mince pie. The Lawrences’ patron, who invited him to come live here, Mabel Dodge, 43, has given them a puppy, Bibbles, who has kept the visitors entertained.

Their hosts have taken the Seltzers to see nearby hot springs, pueblos, and Santa Fe.

In the evenings, the publisher and his author talk shop together. One recurring topic is Ulysses, the new novel by Irishman James Joyce, 40. Lawrence thinks it’s “tiresome,” but hasn’t really read the whole thing.

Their other topic of conversation is Lawrence’s agent, Robert Mountsier, 34. Seltzer is trying to convince Lawrence that he doesn’t really need an agent to be published by Thomas Seltzer, Inc. Hasn’t he always treated his authors fairly? And Mountsier has made it clear that he didn’t even like Lawrence’s most recent novels Aaron’s Rod or Kangaroo.

Robert Mountsier

The Lawrences have invited Mountsier to visit too, paying his train fare from New York with David’s royalties. Luckily, the terribly anti-semitic Mountsier won’t be arriving until the day before the Seltzers leave.

But he’s staying for four weeks. Lawrence isn’t looking forward to that

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher 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 also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.