Lawrence, Frieda (1879–1956)

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Lawrence, Frieda (1879–1956)

German baroness, writer, and wife of British novelist D.H. Lawrence. Name variations: Baroness Frieda von Richthofen; Frieda Weekley. Born Emma Maria Frieda Johanna von Richthofen in the French city of Metz, in Lorraine, in 1879; died in Taos, New Mexico, on August 11, 1956; second of the three daughters of Friedrich von Richthofen (a civil engineer) and Anna (Marquier) von Richthofen; sister of Else von Richthofen; attended convent schools; married Ernest Weekley (an English professor), on August 29, 1899 (divorced, May 28, 1914); married D(avid) H(erbert)Lawrence (1885–1930, the novelist), on July 13, 1914 (died March 2, 1930); married Angelo Ravagli (a captain in the Italian army), on October 31, 1950; children: (first marriage) Montague "Monty" Weekley (b. 1900); Elsa Weekley (b. 1902); Barbara "Barby" Weekley (b. 1904).

On May 13, 1912, Frieda von Richthofen Weekley abandoned her husband and three young children and eloped with the British writer D.H. Lawrence, who at the time was struggling to get his literary career off the ground. Thus began their tumultuous 18-year relationship, during which Frieda came to view herself as his liberator. "It was given to me to make him flower," she wrote to her friend Dorothy Brett shortly after D.H. Lawrence's death in 1930. Indeed, Frieda influenced much of D.H.'s work after 1912, although some critics and scholars tend to ignore her impact. In The von Richthofen Sisters, Martin Green recognizes Frieda as a major force in both D.H.'s life and art. "She gave him sensual happiness, but she also gave him—by the same gift—a mission as a writer. She gave him her identity, her idea—which became his idea. She even helped him significantly with the work of translating that idea into literary terms."

Frieda von Richthofen was born in the French city of Metz, in Lorraine, in 1879, the second of the three daughters of Anna von Richthofen and Baron Friedrich von Richthofen. She grew up in a two-story farmhouse in Metz, where the baron was a civil engineer in the Prussian army of occupation. "It was a strange time," Frieda wrote about the occupation. "I knew that I had nothing in common with most people, an uneasy feeling, I ought to be like them and wasn't." Of the three von Richthofen sisters, dubbed the "three Graces" by the baron, Frieda was the self-proclaimed "wild" one, a robust roughneck with little patience for the classroom. Not as intelligent as her older sister Else von Richthofen or as beautiful as the younger Johanna ("Nusch") von Richthofen , Frieda had an untamed energy that she carried from childhood into her adult years. As a young girl, she became deeply attached to her father, a man who demanded the highest moral fiber in others but cheated in his marriage with a string of mistresses. "Her attraction to the baron's sensual aura of failure was the most immediate and aggrandized," writes Janet Byrne in her biography of Frieda, A Genius for Living. "She would always require that the men in her life allow her, in some form, to pity them; that they understand her sense of herself as flawed; and that, as in her favorite myths, they give equal play to her attributes and the grandness of her faults."

By age 15, Frieda had blossomed into a comely young woman, with long, thick blonde hair, an aristocratic profile, and intriguingly unbalanced features. She developed a schoolgirl crush on her 21-year-old cousin and two years later entered into a chaste love affair with a Prussian lieutenant named Karl von Marbahr. She might have married him, but her mother disapproved of the match and sent her off to Berlin to forget him. (Frieda, however, never forgot Marbahr and 40 years later addressed part of her memoirs to him.) In the summer of 1899, Frieda married Ernest Weekley, a somewhat stuffy English academic 15 years her senior, whom she had met while on holiday in Freiburg. Although he seemed an unlikely choice, she was drawn to his dignity and respectability. Weekley, however, was shy with women, hardly a match for his irrepressible bride. The morning after a less than satisfying wedding night, Frieda seemed to sense that the marriage may have been a mistake. "So that's that. It's a sad affair, now the door has shut on my life and I must make the best of it," she solemnly recorded. The couple settled in Nottingham, England, where Ernest had a position as an English professor at University College. Within a period of five years, Frieda had three children—Monty (b. 1900), Elsa (b. 1902), and Barby (b. 1904)—whom she adored, though her relationship with Weekley so stifled her that she harbored thoughts of running away. Even a succession of new houses, each larger and better equipped, did little to quell Frieda's restlessness and her disdain for conventional English life.

With her husband preoccupied with his work, Frieda embarked on a series of extramarital affairs, the most notable of which was with the Freudian psychologist and free-love advocate Otto Gross who was brilliant, charismatic, and addicted to cocaine. The two met while she was a houseguest of Frieda Gross ("Friedel"), from whom Otto was separated. At the time, Otto was also having an affair with Frieda's sister, Else, who was now married to Edgar Jaffe, a political economy professor. (Else subsequently had a child with Gross, causing a rift between the sisters that would last for several years.) After their initial two-week liaison had ended and Frieda had gone home, Gross continued to pursue her through a series of passionate love letters. Calling her his "golden child" and "the woman of the future," he bestowed upon her a value she had never before acknowledged in herself. "I know now how people will be who are no longer stained by all the things I hate and fight," he wrote. "I know it through you, the only person who today has stayed free of chastity as a moral code and Christianity and Democracy and all those heaps of nonsense." Though Frieda briefly considered leaving Weekley for Gross, she eventually came to realize, as she recounted in her memoirs, that he "didn't have his feet on the ground of reality." She did take much of his philosophy of free love to heart, however, and in 1911, during another visit to Friedel Gross, embarked on an affair with Ernst Frick, an international anarchist who was later jailed for having detonated a bomb outside a Zurich police station in 1907.

Frieda first met D.H. Lawrence on March 3, 1912, when he came to the house to talk with Ernest about a job as a lecturer. (D.H. may have seen or known of Frieda before that time, as he went to high school and college in Nottingham, and his brother George also had a house there.) Initially, Frieda found him "obviously simple," hardly the "young genius" her husband had described. "His face was plump after convalescence from a months-long bout with pneumonia," writes Byrne, "his mustache and thick red hair were assiduously brushed, setting off lucid blue eyes, and he wore a freshly starched wing collar and black patent leather shoes." Although they spoke only briefly before lunch, they experienced an immediate and mutual attraction. "You are the most wonderful woman in all England," D.H. wrote Frieda after their meeting. "You don't know many women in England," Frieda replied. They probably made love soon after, though the date and circumstances are unknown. "But then, can I describe what it was like when we were first together?," Frieda wrote later. "It just had to be. What others find in other ways, the oneness with all that lives and breathes, the peace of all peace, it does pass all understanding, that was between us, never to be lost completely."

Shortly after their love affair began, Frieda also became D.H.'s reader, working on the early chapters of "Paul Morel" (a working title for the later Sons and Lovers). Over the next eight weeks, they saw each other regularly, on one occasion even traveling to London together and staying at the house of D.H.'s publisher Edward Garnett in Kent. As the relationship deepened, D.H. urged Frieda to tell Weekley, but she hesitated. When she finally did confront her husband, she only managed to confide her affairs with Gross and Frick, before dissolving into tears. Three agonizing days later, she left Weekley and their children and traveled with D.H. to Metz, where her father was celebrating his Jubilee year.

In Metz, Frieda began to have second thoughts and banished D.H. to a local hotel while she stayed with her family. Fueling her uncertainty was her guilt over leaving her children and the simmering fear that she might not see them again. There was also the very vocal disapproval of her parents, who were enraged at her behavior. The baron, who by now had fathered an illegitimate child with one of his mistresses, claimed to be morally offended. "You travel about the world like a barmaid," he later wrote her. While Frieda wavered, D.H. grew desperate and wrote to Weekley. "I love your wife and she loves me," he confessed. Weekley wrote Frieda asking for a divorce and telling her that she would never see her children again. Meanwhile, during one of their few rendezvous in Metz, Frieda and D.H. wandered into a military zone and were questioned by police who believed D.H. was a spy. The baron was forced to intercede and insisted that D.H. leave town. Parted from Frieda for several weeks, D.H. traveled to visit a cousin in the Rhineland, writing one of his most beautiful love poems to Frieda, "Bei Hennef," while en route.

The couple reunited in Munich, where they began life together in a small rented apartment outside the city. It was the first in a succession of rented and borrowed homes they would occupy. They were difficult years, plagued with problems that continually threatened to destroy the relationship, and indeed did stall it from time to time. Always at issue was Frieda's devotion to her children, which D.H. seemed unable or unwilling to understand or tolerate. There were also financial woes, personality clashes, petty jealousies, and, in later years, concerns over D.H.'s declining health. Outside the couple's personal realm, there were societal factors at play, as Alastair Niven points out in a biography of D.H. Lawrence in British Writers. "It was in every sense an unconventional liaison that shocked contemporary morality," he wrote, "for it not only disrupted the Weekley marriage but it cut across class." In the midst of her most difficult times with D.H., Frieda also bore the inequities of her womanhood, realizing that while D.H. could very well leave her, she could not leave him. "How could I earn a living?," she pondered during one miserable spell between them. "I was never taught anything which might earn me a living…. I am helpless. I am caught." She then quickly hedged. "I wish to be caught. We love each other."

In the summer of 1912, strapped for money and having to vacate the Munich flat, the couple set out on probably one of the most memorable adventures of their lives, a journey across the Alps to Italy, on foot. Having sent their few belongings ahead, they walked approximately ten miles a day, sleeping in hay-huts and chapels along the way, and occasionally spending a week or two at a farmhouse or cheap hotel. In rainy weather, they traveled by coach or train, but it was still a grueling and exhausting journey. Early in the trip, Frieda had her first outside affair, establishing a pattern of infidelity that marked her relationship with D.H., who also had his share of extracurricular liaisons. (D.H. was bisexual, though it is unknown whether he consummated any of his relationships with men during his years with Frieda.) Frieda's first betrayal consisted of a single night spent with Harold Hobson, who had joined them briefly on the first leg of the walking tour. John Worthen, in his biography of D.H. Lawrence, suggests that the encounter may have been Frieda's way of asserting her independence, of making it clear to D.H. that even though she had agreed to leave her husband and children for him, she was still her own woman.

The couple ended their trek in the village of Gargnano, Italy, where they spent the winter. D.H. worked feverishly rewriting "Paul Morel" into Sons and Lovers, wanting desperately to prove himself capable of supporting Frieda. Creative bursts of energy became typical of the writer, who conducted his entire literary career on the move and seemed to be able to work anywhere. Frieda once called him "a writing machine," referring to a fixation on work that often drove him to utter exhaustion and illness, through which Frieda patiently nursed him. "Often he was ill when his consciousness tried to penetrate into deeper strata," she wrote later, "it was an interplay of body and soul…. He de manded so much of me and I had to be there for him so completely."

Frieda's divorce from Weekley and marriage to D.H. were anticlimactic events, considering what the couple had already endured. The marriage ceremony, which took place on July 13, 1914, was an impersonal affair conducted at the Kensington Registry Office in London, with only a few friends in attendance, among them Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry, who would remain close friends with the couple. Although the Lawrences had hoped to return to Italy, the outbreak of World War I detained them in England where they were barred by regulation from leaving the country and were frequently under surveillance. They had "compounded their social unacceptability by going against the current of Anglo-German hostility," wrote Niven. "[D.H.] had the most profound horror at the way the war was conducted. It seemed to him an explosion of all the obscene, violent, destructive, and materialistic characteristics of Western machine-worshipping society, while at the same time he was equally outraged by the loss of young life." Though he was exempted from compulsory service due to his health, D.H. wrote: "The War finished me; it was the spear through the side of all sorrows and hopes." He frequently took his frustrations out on Frieda, chiding her for her Germanness, and intimating that his relationship with her might indeed jeopardize his success.

In the meantime, the publication of Sons and Lovers (1913) had established D.H. as a promising author and opened many doors. He and Frieda began to enjoy a social life and a widening circle of friends, including Cynthia Asquith and Ottoline Morrell , whose salons for artists, writers, and others of the intelligentsia brought them in contact with the entire Bloomsbury circle, many of whom D.H. ultimately found "conceited and self-centered." They moved back to London for a brief time in August 1915 and then took up residence in borrowed houses in the English countryside. D.H. finished The Rainbow (published in 1915), a spin-off of The Sisters, which had become too long for one volume. The book, for which he had enormously high hopes, was savagely attacked by most of the critics and was eventually declared obscene and ordered destroyed. D.H. was devastated, sure that his reputation as well as his earning power as a writer were over.

As the war dragged on, the Lawrences were strapped for money and remained under surveillance, which made Frieda fearful even to leave the house. One evening their cottage was ransacked, and the next day the Lawrences were expelled from Cornwall. They were taken in by friends in London, but were followed by detectives who eavesdropped at the apartment door. They then moved to a friend's empty cottage in Berkshire, where they continued to be stalked by the police.

After the war, the Lawrences deliberately exiled themselves from England. In December 1919, shortly after D.H. had completed Women in Love (published in New York in 1920), they left for Italy. They remained there until 1922, living in Florence, Capri, and a stucco farmhouse near Mount Etna in Sicily, which Frieda loved. "Living in Sicily after the war years was like coming to life again," she wrote. From Italy, the Lawrences ventured around the world: to Ceylon, Australia, America, Mexico, Europe, and back to America, all within a mere two-year period (1922–24). Their arrival in America, which D.H. hoped might be their utopia, occurred on September 4, 1922. They first landed in San Francisco, then were met outside Sante Fe by Mabel Dodge Luhan , the philanthropist and salon impresario who had become enchanted with D.H. after reading Sons and Lovers and actually paid for the Lawrences to come to America. Luhan took them to Taos, where they eventually established a home, and where Frieda returned after D.H.'s death. "By and large one may say that [D.H.] and Frieda found in Taos what Mabel had promised them they would," writes Green. "It was the place they had been looking for, the effective antithesis of the city and of civilization." Frieda claimed it was the Indians that gave them a deeper realization and connected them with the earth. Her husband "could never have written Lady Chatterley if he had not known Taos," she wrote later. D.H. agreed that New Mexico had "finally liberated him from the inherited inhibitions of Christianity."

The Lawrences' relationship went through a particularly shaky period around 1923. On a trip to Mexico in March of that year, the tensions between them reached the boiling point. D.H., whose increasing bouts of consumption made him ill and cranky, frequently demeaned Frieda in public, making hostile references to her increasing weight, which embarrassed him. "Her long-standing habits—chain-smoking, and sitting with her legs apart, like a 'slut,' though often long skirts concealed all but her ankles—were also frequent targets," wrote Byrne. Frieda, humiliated by her husband's tirades, was frequently at a loss for words. "When even silence failed to stanch a tirade, she went to Sanborn's, a local teahouse, for strawberry shortcake." That summer, having not seen her children in four years, Frieda left for England without D.H., who accused her of "chasing … those Weekley children." During the three-month separation, D.H. traveled across America, then, at Frieda's urging, joined her in England. They later returned to Taos, taking up residence on a rundown ranch ("Kiowa") given to them by Mabel Luhan. It was the first and only home they would ever call their own. D.H. took great pleasure in repairing and restoring the structure over a five-week period during the summer, and Frieda knitted, cooked, and churned her own butter. "It was very beautiful up here," D.H. wrote in a letter to a friend. "We worked hard, and spent very little money. And we had the place all to ourselves, and our horses the same. It was good to be alone and responsible."

In August 1924, D.H. suffered from a bronchial hemorrhage, signaling the onset of tuberculosis, which dominated the last five years of his life. He recovered sufficiently for the couple to spend the fall in Mexico, at a house in Oaxaca that they rented from a Mexican-born Scottish priest. D.H. worked on essays and a second draft of The Plumed Serpent, then was besieged with the flu, followed by bouts of typhoid and malaria. In late February 1925, he was told he was in the terminal stage of tuberculosis and was given a year or two at the most. "If I die," he told Frieda, "nothing has mattered but you, nothing at all."

By February 1925, however, D.H. was well enough to travel, and the couple returned to Europe again, visiting family in Nottingham and Baden-Baden, then going on to Italy where they rented a villa in Spotorno, near the Mediterranean. Their landlord was a married officer in the Italian army by the name of Angelo Ravagli, a strikingly handsome figure to whom Frieda was immediately drawn. She began an affair with Ravagli that continued at intervals over the next four years. D.H. was aware of the romance, although it did not seem to alter his feelings for Frieda, or hers for him. "The worst quarrels of their lives did not occur over her affairs (or his for that matter)," writes Worthen, "but over other people altogether; people he insisted on bringing into their lives, like Ottoline, or Mabel, or Brett, or—at other times—his sister Ada Lawrence ; or over Frieda's daughters; or (at times) almost anyone with whom one of the two felt the other was siding with, against them. It was those who invaded their living space that mattered, not those who briefly occupied their beds."

From 1926 to 1928, D.H. was consumed with Lady Chatterley's Lover, the book for which he would become well known and the one that made him more money than he had made in his life. He also began to paint, producing a series of powerful renderings, many of them sexual in nature. In 1929, a solo show of his works in England was closed by the authorities because of excessive realism. He finished a second version of Lady Chatterley's Lover in the spring of 1927 ("verbally terribly improper," he called it), after which he suffered a third bronchial hemorrhage, his worst yet. As soon as he could travel, he and Frieda went to Bavaria and stayed in Frieda's sister Else's house, then returned to Italy, where he decided to publish Lady Chatterley's Lover himself. He rewrote yet a third version of the novel in a remarkable six-week period between November 1927 and January 1928.

For the next two years, Frieda's days were dominated by her husband's illness, which dictated where they lived and the quality of her life. Her very vitality infuriated D.H., but the challenge of it also seemed to revive him. They resided for the most part in Italy until mid-1928, then in France where D.H. eventually entered Ad Astra sanatorium in Vence. Although his condition did not improve, he insisted on leaving, and Frieda found a villa for them in Vence and hired a nurse to care for him. On March 1, 1930, he was taken by taxi to the new house, but the following afternoon he began to deteriorate and by that evening was dead. Frieda stayed alone with his body that night, singing his favorite hymns and folk songs.

"Then we buried him, very simply, like a bird we put him away, a few of us who loved him," wrote Frieda of his funeral. "We put flowers into his grave and all I said was 'Good-bye, Lorenzo,' as his friends and I put lots and lots of mimosa on his coffin. Then he was covered over with earth while the sun came out on to his small grave in the little cemetery of Vence which looks over the Mediterranean that he cared for so much." D.H.'s remains were eventually cremated and in April 1935 were brought back to the United States and placed in a chapel built at the New Mexico ranch.

Although the relationship had ended, it survived in D.H. Lawrence's writing, as did the writer's relationships with all the women in his life. But, as Martin Green points out, Frieda not only served D.H.'s characterizations and plots, but also functioned as his best critic. She had a substantial hand in refining the manuscript of Sons and Lovers, the book that established him as a writer. "I think L. quite missed the point," she wrote about the novel to publisher Edward Garnett. "[H]e is so often beside the point 'but "I'll learn him to be a toad" as the boy said as he stamped on the toad.'" As would become her pattern, Frieda argued with D.H. about the novel's language, and the motivation of the characters. She line edited for him, writing "hoytytoyty" beside what she considered to be overblown phrases, and actually rewrote some of the new chapters which helped fortify the pivotal character of Miriam. (D.H. took one brief respite from his work on Sons and Lovers during which he wrote a comic play about Frieda's marital status called The Fight for Barbara. She countered with a parody of "Paul Morel" called "Paul Morel, or His Mother's Darling," but D.H. was not amused and the play disappeared.)

D.H. also characterized other members of Frieda's family. According to Green, Frieda's father is sketched as "the Baron" in the story "The Thorn in the Flesh," and some of his dubious ethics are portrayed in the character of Will in The Rainbow and Women in Love, as well as in the officer of "The Mortal Coil." Anna von Richthofen, Frieda's mother, turns up as Anna Brangwen in The Rainbow. D.H. exposed Frieda's complex relationship with her sister Else in The Sisters, although in the first draft the characters were blurred together, both becoming Frieda. "[T]hey are me, these beastly, superior arrogant females!," Frieda wrote to publisher Garnett. "Lawrence hated me just over the children[;] I daresay I wasn't all I might have been, so he wrote this!" Frieda fought constantly with D.H. over the rewrite of The Sisters. During one such battle, when D.H. announced that women had no souls and could not love, Frieda smashed him over the head with the plate she was wiping and left the room.

Immediately following D.H.'s death, Frieda seemed unable to cope. She was never adept at practical matters; even using the telephone befuddled her. In a letter of September 24, 1959, Aldous Huxley expressed his surprise at Frieda's helplessness. "She seemed such a powerful Valkyrie," he wrote, "but, as I found out when she came to London after D.H.'s death to deal with business and stay to herself in a hotel, she was amazingly incapable and, under her emphatic and sometimes truculent façade, deeply afraid. She had relied totally on D.H., and felt completely lost until she found another man to support her." Since a will that D.H. had drawn up in 1914 could not be located, it became necessary for Frieda to battle D.H.'s family for his royalty rights. The matter dragged on for two years and was finally settled in court, where John Middleton Murry produced the missing document that he and Katherine Mansfield had witnessed. During the trial, while her lawyer was sentimentalizing her relationship with D.H., Frieda interrupted him at one point, exclaiming: "But that's not true—we fought like hell!"

In May 1933, Frieda returned to the Kiowa Ranch at Taos with Angelo Ravagli, who had since separated from his wife. (He would not be formally divorced until 1950, after which he and Frieda would marry.) Frieda's relationship with Ravagli seemed as unlikely as her marriage to Weekley. Some, including Frieda's daughter Barby, theorized that the liaison represented a "return" to Weekley, while others believed that Ravagli was more of a father figure. It may be, however, that Frieda merely saw Ravagli as part of an intriguing experiment. "I want Dario [Ravagli] to come to America with me, to that small wild place in the Rockies; and I will see what happens to him there," she wrote in her second memoir. For his part, Ravagli was initially horrified at the loneliness of Taos and the primitiveness of the ranch. They began construction of a new house on the property, and Frieda started her memoir, Not I, but The Wind …, taken from the first line of a poem D.H. had written celebrating their love. The autobiography, published in October 1934, sold briskly and was reprinted several times. (A second volume, And The Fullness Thereof…, was never completed, but was published posthumously as Frieda Lawrence: The Memoirs and Correspondence.) Meanwhile, Ravagli served as handyman around the ranch and as Frieda's business partner as she undertook management of the Lawrence estate, a task that became increasingly complex over the years, due to reprint rights, film rights, collected editions and posthumous volumes.

From 1933 until the Second World War, Frieda and Ravagli often wintered in California, escaping the harsh winters of Taos. As early as the winter of 1936, when the couple visited Hollywood, Ravagli began frequenting dance halls with other women, to whom he confided that his relationship with Frieda was a contractual one. His infidelity, which increased over the years, seemed of little note to Frieda, who was more concerned with his help on the ranch, in planting and taking care of the animals. "As long as his interest in other woman was fleeting, she gave him free rein 'to have his flings,' insisting that, at fifty-seven, she was old and preferred to read at night," explains Byrne. The only one of Ravagli's affairs that seriously threatened Frieda was that with Dorothy Horgan , a younger married woman from New York, whom he pursued unsuccessfully for many years.

In 1939, Frieda bought a second house ("Los Pinos") in the village of El Prado, with two outbuildings, one to be used as a guest house and the other to serve as a workshop for Ravagli, who had taken up pottery. At Kiowa, Frieda entertained an ever-growing circle of friends, including Rebecca James, Millicent Rogers , and Georgia O'Keeffe who collected erotica and loved D.H.'s paintings which Frieda displayed in a room built especially for that purpose. "I can remember very clearly the first time I ever saw her," O'Keeffe later recalled of Frieda, "standing in a doorway, with her hair all frizzed out, wearing a cheap red calico dress that looked as though she'd just wiped out the frying pan with it. She was not thin, and not young, but there was something radiant and wonderful about her."

During the 1940s, Frieda wrote several essays and letters to editors clarifying and refuting details that had been written about D.H. in a flood of articles and books. She also wrote a foreword for a publication of the first version of Lady Chatterley's Lover, which, like the other two versions, was also deemed obscene and seized.

In 1952, Frieda returned to England, a trip she dreaded in light of all that had happened there to her and D.H. It was, however, a happy occasion, made so by the opportunity to visit with all three of her children, their spouses, and her five grandchildren. She had even proposed a meeting with Weekley (now 89 and nearly blind), but it was called off when the children objected. Returning to Taos, Frieda began to sense her own mortality as more and more of her friends succumbed to illness. Though stricken with asthma, she retained much of her vigor and magnetism throughout her later years. Amalia de Schulthess , a sculptor from Beverly Hills who visited her in 1953, attested to that fact, noting that the atmosphere changed when she entered a room. "She was very powerful and intensely female," said de Schulthess. Nevertheless, sensing that her days were numbered, Frieda took up the matter of her estate and deeded the upper ranch to the University of New Mexico. Life remained good for her until April 1956, when she suffered a serious viral infection from which she never completely recovered.

Frieda Lawrence died on August 11, 1956, succumbing to a massive stroke she had suffered on August 8. Ravagli sent her off in grand style, burying her outside D.H. Lawrence's tomb and playing a recording of her recitations of several of his poems on a gramophone while the mourners enjoyed a picnic supper under lighted paper lanterns. Frieda no doubt would have found the tribute much to her liking. She also would have derived a great deal of pleasure from Penguin Books' successful defense of its unexpurgated edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover in a London court in 1960, after which D.H. Lawrence's popularity soared.


Byrne, Janet. A Genius for Living: The Life of Frieda Lawrence. NY: HarperCollins, 1995.

Green, Martin. The von Richthofen Sisters: The Triumphant and the Tragic Modes of Love. NY: Basic Books, 1974.

Jackson, Rosie. Frieda Lawrence. San Francisco, CA: Pandora, 1994.

Niven, Alastair. "D.H. Lawrence," in British Writers. Vol. VII. NY: Scribner, 1984.

Tedlock, E.W., Jr., ed. Frieda Lawrence: The Memoirs and Correspondence. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964.

Worthen, John. Biography of D.H. Lawrence. Nottingham, England: The University of Nottingham, 1997.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Lawrence, Frieda (1879–1956)

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