On 1 December, the Lawrence’s moved to the Del Monte Ranch, a log cabin with four rooms and a kitchen. Nearby are the Danes in a three-room cabin. Lawrence had finally escaped the clutches of Mabel Dodge Sterne whom he acknowledges ‘was always nice – only somewhat blind to anything except her own way[i]’. Hmm, sound familiar.
He gossips away about her to his dear Schwiegermutter, ‘rich – only child – 42 year’s old – short, stout – looks young – has had three husbands…Has now an Indian, Tony, a fat fellow….hates the white world, and loves the Indians out of hate…We are still ‘friends’ with Mable. But don’t take this serpent to our bosom.[ii]’
The new home required some D.I.Y and so Knud Merrild is instructed to bring some ‘indiarubber boots, the white ones $4.50 a pair… some fumigating stuff… two pieces of glass’ and ‘a pound of cheese[iii]’ To keep warm, the wife of Jerry Mirabal (aka the ‘famous Taos Indian’) is ‘tanning five skins for Frieda[iv]’.
‘It is snow here,’ he informs Mary Cannan ‘coyotes howl at night – sun very hot during the day. America makes one feel one has swallowed a rather big pebble.[v]’
Now that he is living remotely, others are expected to come to him. First up is his publisher Thomas Seltzer ‘a nice tiny man[vi]’ who would publish seven of Lawrence’s books, soon to be followed by his American literary agent Robert Mountsier.
There are invites to go East and make a fortune doing a lecture tour of America, as Gilbert Canny and Hugh Walpole (1884 –1941) had done. Like Lawrence, Walpole was a prolific writer, producing at least one book every year after his debut novel The Wooden Horse (1901). But the literary circuit did not appeal to Lawrence.
Women in Love is doing well. ‘Has sold 10,000 in the cheap edition, 3,000 in the other[vii]’ and there’s always time to read books to review for The Dial[viii]. Once more he is supportive of other writers, such as Frederick Carter (1883 – 1967), whose manuscript he offers to submit to ‘a suitable publisher’ and then provides relevant journals he should read. Carter’s esoteric research would be published four years later as The Dragon of the Alchemists (1926).
Lawrence has the simple life that he claims he needs – ‘Life has been just a business of chopping wood, fixing doors, putting up shelves, eating and sleeping[ix]’ with culture coming in the form of evening debates with the Danes and the Christmas dance at the pueblo to see the Taos Indians perform either the buffalo dance or the deer dance. But despite having everything he wanted, he’s not happy.
‘There is no inside life-throb here’ he complains to Catherine Carswell ‘all empty – people inside dead’. He claims to ‘truly prefer Europe’ and that even ‘the Indians are very American – no inside life’. The solution is simple: ‘I know now I don’t want to live anywhere very long’ and thus, a mere 17 days into his latest residence, he begins hatching new adventures. ‘I belong to Europe. Though not to England. I think I should like to go to Russia in the summer. After America, it appeals to me[x]’
Although the reason for this mood has nothing to do with country or culture: ‘Am not writing here[xi]’
- [i] Letter to Thomas Seltzer L2667
- [ii] Letter to Baroness Anna von Richthofen L2669
- [iii] Letter to Knud Merrild L2664
- [iv] Letter to Mabel Dodge Sterne L2665
- [v] Letter to Mary Cannan, L2670
- [vi] Letter to John Middleton Murry L2687
- [vii] Letter to Mary Cannan L2670
- [viii] Lawrence received a copy of Americans by Stuart Pratt Sherman. It would be published in the May 1923 edition of The Dial.
- [ix] Letter to Mabel Dodge Sterne L2677
- [x] Letter to Catherine Carswell L2682
- [xi] Letter to Catherine Carswell L2682