“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.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, June 10, 1921, Fontana Vecchia, Taormina, Sicily, Italy

Today is the day.

English ex-patriate writer David Herbert Lawrence, 35, on his 20-minute walk from his hilltop house in to town, realizes that today is the day his novel Women in Love is being published in the United Kingdom. What a long and circuitous journey.

Fontana Vecchia

Lawrence had conceived of this novel during the Great War. But then had written and published six years ago what he thought of as part one, The Rainbow, in both the US and the UK.

Well, of course, the Brits had gone ballistic and banned it under the Obscene Publications Act of 1857. 1857. Did they realize it is now the 20th century?!

Angry, Lawrence sat down and wrote Women in Love as a response, telling his literary agent,

You will hate it and no one will publish it. But there, these things are beyond us.”

Actually, his American publisher, Thomas Seltzer, 46, was willing to take a chance and published it last November. But only in a US private edition costing $15 each. Bit of a narrow audience. Lawrence argued that he didn’t want it to be released that way, but eventually gave in. The title page doesn’t even include the publisher’s name. Just “Private Printing for Subscribers Only.”

Seltzer has told Lawrence that his books are selling quite well in the States, even in a bad year for publishing in general. However, after the uproar over The Rainbow in the UK, Seltzer doesn’t want to take any chances bringing out Women in Love over there.

So Martin Secker, 39, has shouldered the burden with his publishing company. Fear of the censors has led Secker to make a few discreet edits. But Women in Love is scheduled to be unleashed on the public today.

Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, 41, have been in self-imposed exile from England for the past four years. Because Frieda is German, their English neighbors had suspected them to be spies. Ridiculous. And also, he writes dirty books.

D. H. and Frieda Lawrence

The couple have been traveling throughout Europe, mostly Germany—which seemed to Lawrence to be “so empty…as if uninhabited…life empty: no young men”—and Italy. Last year they settled in this Sicilian town. At the beginning of this month, visiting Frieda’s family in Germany, he finished Aaron’s Rod, his third novel in the series about his home country, the English midlands. Seltzer feels that right now Lawrence has too many books out in the US market, so he is going to hold publication of Aaron’s Rod until next year.

David and Frieda are getting antsy. In Italy, he has been writing very little. He is hopeful that excerpts from his travelogue Sea and Sardinia will appear in the American Dial magazine later this year.

Their passports will need to be renewed soon. Lawrence feels it is time to move on to the next adventure.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available on Amazon in print and e-book versions. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs 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 available on Amazon in both print and e-book formats.