“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.

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

Enough was enough. English novelist David Herbert Lawrence, 37, and his German wife Frieda, 43, are definitely grateful to their hostess, American patron of the arts Mabel Dodge, 43, who invited them to come live here so David can write about the local area.

Del Monte Ranch

But after about two months, living next door to the formidable Mabel has proved too much. She monopolizes David’s time which angers Frieda.

And why has she partnered with this Native American, Tony Luhan, 43? Lawrence thinks Tony has just fallen for Mabel’s money.

So David and Frieda have found this ranch far enough up the mountain to be out of Mabel’s grasp, but close enough to be polite. A bit less comfortable physically, but worth it to have their freedom.

The owner of this compound supports artists as well—there are two young Danish painters living in another building—but in a more hands-off manner than Dodge.

David and Frieda are enjoying horseback riding in cowboy hats and boots, but in general find the area depressing.

David and Frieda Lawrence

Shortly after they arrived, Lawrence had written to his friend back in England, novelist E. M. Forster, 43,

Taos is a tiny place thirty miles from the railway high up—6,000 ft.—in the desert. I feel a great stranger, but have got used to that feeling, & prefer it to feeling ‘homely.’ After all, one is a stranger, nowhere so hopelessly as at home.”

“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.

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.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, September 12, 1922, Manhattan Municipal Term Court, New York City, New York; and near Taos, New Mexico

City Magistrate George W. Simpson, 51, is issuing his decision in the case brought against publisher Thomas A. Seltzer, 47, by John Sumner, 45, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (NYSSV), for publishing three “obscene” books, including the novel Women in Love by English writer D. H. Lawrence, just turned 37 yesterday.

Women in Love, U. S. edition

Based on his own reading, as well as expert testimony from critics such as Gilbert Seldes, 29, managing editor of The Dial magazine—who testified that the novel “would not interest a child and be no more exciting to an adult than a railroad timetable”—Simpson dismisses all charges and orders that the confiscated books be returned to the publisher.

Echoing a decision issued just 10 days earlier in the case Halsey v. NYSSV, Simpson states that

Mere extracts separated from their context do not constitute criteria by which books might be judged obscene,”

and that the books in question have value as literature.

Seltzer’s attorney announces that they will bring suit against Sumner and the NYSSV. And Seltzer knows that sales will soar.

Advertisement that Thomas Seltzer, Inc., plans to place in the New York Times

****

The author in question, D. H. Lawrence, arrived with his wife, Frieda, 43, at their new home in Taos, New Mexico, just yesterday. What a birthday present.

After more than a year of correspondence between the two, Lawrence finally met his hostess, Mabel Dodge, 43, when he and Frieda stepped off the train yesterday in Lamy, New Mexico, 90 miles south.

Dodge, swathed in turquoise and dripping silver jewelry, was accompanied by her partner, a rather silent Native American Tony Luhan, 43, who drove them here to Taos in Mabel’s Cadillac.

Mabel Dodge and Tony Luhan

Dodge has fixed up a roomy house for the Lawrences, just 200 yards away from the one she shares with Luhan, about a mile from the town’s central plaza.

Lawrence is impressed with their new surroundings. But early this morning, he has gone to Mabel’s house to begin working with her on the novel she wants him to write. She invites him to come up to her roof terrace where she is sunbathing. Passing through her bedroom, Lawrence sees her unmade bed and instinctively makes a disgusted face, which Mabel sees. She is disappointed that the author she has put so much faith in is so small-minded.

Gates to Mabel Dodge’s house

Lawrence tells Mabel that his wife doesn’t want them working together at Mabel’s house; there is plenty of room for them at the Lawrences’. So Dodge and Lawrence gather round the table there.

Frieda makes a point of stomping around the house while loudly sweeping and singing.

“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 also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Later in the year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

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.

“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, early November, 1921, Corso Umberto, Toarmina, Sicily

Walking back to his rented house, Fontana Vecchia, British ex-pat novelist David Herbert Lawrence, 36, is casually sorting through the mail he just picked up at the local post office.

There is an unusual smell.

Not a bad smell. An exotic, Indian smell.

Corso Umberto

It’s coming from an envelope that has in it, not a letter, but a long scroll. Like a papyrus. From the United States. From a city in New Mexico called “Taos.”

As he walks, Lawrence unfurls the scroll and starts reading. He stops in his tracks.

This unusual package is from an American woman he has never heard of, Mabel Dodge Sterne, 42. She has included a few leaves of local plants, desachev and osha, to entice Lawrence to accept her invitation to move to Taos and live rent-free on her land. And write.

Lawrence can’t believe what he is reading.

Sterne has seen an excerpt of his upcoming travel book, Sea and Sardinia, in last month’s issue of The Dial magazine, and she is impressed. She likes the “queer way…[you give] the feel and touch and smell of places.” She wants him to write about Taos in the same way and is offering him an adobe cottage, filled with furniture handmade in the area, with room enough for his wife and children. Well, if he has any children. [He doesn’t.]

This is exactly the opportunity Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, 42, are looking for. They are thinking of joining some friends to study Buddhism in Ceylon. But this—this. Financial as well as emotional support.

As he heads home to tell Frieda, he nibbles at the osha. It tastes like liquorice and takes him far away from the tacky shops lining the Corso Umberto.

Lawrence can think of a hundred questions he has to ask.

Who is this woman? He will write to his New York agent to find out if he has ever heard of Mrs. Sterne.

Where is this Taos? He will try to find it on a map.

Then he will write back to Mabel with an enthusiastic

Yes!”

Followed by his other questions:  Are there trees? Water?! Maybe a river or a lake. Is it hot or cold there? What type of clothing should they bring?

Lawrence also thinks he needs to assure Mrs. Sterne that he and Frieda will eventually pay rent to her. He doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life being as poor as he has been so far. Writing all these books should pay off some time.

“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 in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, 100 years ago.

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.

“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, September 18, 1921, en route from Taormina, Sicily, to Florence, Italy

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.

Fontana Vecchia

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 kaydee@gypsyteacher.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.