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Locating Lawrence

Artefact 4 | Letters of Lawrence 1922

1922

January
Sicily
Sicily
February
March
R.M.S Osterley
Kandy, Ceylon
April
R.M.S Orsova
May
Savoy Hotel, Perth
Darlington, Western Australia
P&O Orient LIne Poster
June
Lawrence at Wyewurk, Thirroul, New South Wales, Australia
July
August
Rorotonga, Cook Islands
Tahiti
September
San Francisco
Taos New Mexico
October
November
December
Del Monte Ranch, Questa, New Mexico
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Memory Theatre
Memory Theatre
Memory Theatre
Select a date on the picture grid to view video and letters.

Our fourth artefact is travel-writing, specifically the letters Lawrence sent to friends and associates as he and Frieda embarked upon their pilgrimage around the globe.

 

Journey timeline
Explore the savage pilgrimage of rebel writer D.H. Lawrence (1855 – 1930). Timeline viewer (Opens in new browser window).

January

Taormina, Sicily

Letter to Earl Brewster, 2 Jan 1922
‘I am weary of Taormina, and have no desire to stay in Sicily or in Europe at all.’

Letter to Baroness Anna von Richthofen 10 Jan 1922
‘We sit in our salotta, warm and still, with the lamp on the table. Outside, through the door I see the moon through the begonia leaves of our terrace: and all quite still, only from time to time the stove crackles. When I think of going away, I’m a bit melancholy. But inwardly I am certain that I must go. This is a lovely end, but better a difficult beginning than an end only.’

Letter to S.S. Koteliansky 14 Jan 1922
‘I feel it is my destiny at least to try the States, if only to know I hate them.’

Letter to Catherine Carswell, 24 Jan 1922
‘We had almost booked our passage to America, when suddenly it came over me I must go to Ceylon.’

February

Taormina, Sicily

Letter to Mary Cannan, 12 Feb 1922
‘I have sent the deposit money for the berths on the Osterley, sailing from Naples on the 26th. The thought of going gives me a sinking feeling. But I want to go.’

Letter to Baroness Anna von Richthofen, 19 Feb 1922
We sit ready to travel: four trunks, one household trunk, one book trunk, Frieda’s and mine – and then two valises, hat-box, and the two quite small pieces: just like Abraham faring forth into a new land.

March

R.M.S Osterley

Letter to Norman Douglas, 4 March 1922
R.M.S Osterley Thank the Lord I am away from Taormina, that place would have been the death of me after a little while longer

Letter to S.S. Koteliansky, 7 March 1922
I loved coming through the Suez Canal. It takes 18 hours – and you see the Arabs and their camels and the rosy-yellow desert with its low palm trees and its hills of sharp sand. Then Mount Sinai like a vengeful dagger that was dipped in blood many ages ago.

Letter to Rosalind Baynes, 8 March 1922
Being at sea is so queer – it sort of dissolves for the time being all the connections with the land, and one feels a bit like a seabird must feel. It is my opinion that once beyond the Red Sea one does not feel any more that tension and pressure one suffers from in England.

 

Kandy, Ceylon

 

Letter to Emily King, 24 March 1922
We sit on the verandahs and watch the chipmucks and chameleons and lizards and tropical birds among the trees and bamboos. If one moves on sweats.

Letter to Robert Pratt Barlow, 30 March 1922
I do think, still more now I am out here, that we make a mistake forsaking England and moving out into the periphery of life. We’re rather like Jonahs running away from the place we belong.

April

Kandy, Ceylon

Letter to Catherine Carswell, 3 April 1922
Think we shall go on to West Australia quite soon – tropics not my line – not active enough.

Letter to Mary Cannan, 5 April 1922
I loathe the tropical fruits, except pineapples, and those I can’t digest: because my inside has never hurt me so much in all my 36 years as in these three weeks. I need this bitterness, apparently, to cure me of the illusion of other places.

Letter to Mabel Dodge Sterne, 10 April 1922
No, the East doesn’t get me at all. Its boneless suavity, and the thick, choky feel of tropical forest, and the metallic sense of palms and the horrid noises of the birds and creatures, who hammer and clang and rattle and cackle and explode all the livelong day.

R.M.S Orsova

Letter to Lady Cynthia Asquith, 30 April 1922
Here we are on a ship again – somewhere in a very big blue choppy sea with flying fishes sprinting out of the waves like winged drops and a Catholic Spanish Priest playing Chopin at the piano.

May

Savoy Hotel, Perth

Letter to Robert Mountsier, 7 May 1922
I’ll see this damned world, if only to know I don’t want to see any more of it. This is the most expensive hotel I’ve ever stayed in – leave it tomorrow.

Darlington, West Australia

Letter to Earl Brewster, 15 May 1922
I’m determined to try the South Sea Isles. Don’t expect to catch on there either. But I love trying things and discovering how I hate them. One day I shall go round the world again, and go from Africa to North India and Himalayas and if possible Thibet: then China and Japan. One day.

P&O

Letter to S.S. Koteliansky, 20 May 1922
We are going now to Sydney – calling at Adelaide and Melbourne. Frieda wants to have a little house and stay a few months. She is tired of moving on. But I like it. I like the feeling of rolling on.

Letter to Jan Juta, 20 May 1922
Australia has a marvellous sky and air and blue clarity and a hoary sort of land beneath it, like a Sleeping Princess on whom the dust of ages has settled. Wonder if she’ll ever get up.

Wyewurk, Thirroul, New South Wales, Australia 

Letter to Baroness Anna von Richthofen, 28 May 1922
We are about 50km south of Sydney, on the coast. We have got a lovely little house on the edge of the low cliff just above the Pacific Ocean. The heavy waves break with a great roar all the time. Today the sky is dark, and it makes me think of Cornwall. 

Letter to Anna Jenkins, 30 May 1922
I’ve got a bitter burning nostalgia for Europe, for Sicily, for old civilisation and for real human understanding.

June

Wyewurk, Thirroul, New South Wales, Australia

Letter to Baroness Anna von Richthofen, 9 June
The township is new and raw – the streets aren’t paved, all sand and clay – it’s interesting. Postman and newspaper boy come riding on horses, and whistle when they have dropped letters in. Meat is so cheap – two good sheep’s tongues, 60 Pf. – and a great piece of beef, enough for twelve people, two marks.

Letter to Else Jaffe, 13 June 1922
One nice thing about these countries is that nobody asks questions. I suppose there have been too many questionable people here in the past.

Letter to Earl Brewster, 13 June 1922
I never knew before how wonderful it was to know absolutely nobody.

July

Wyewurk, Thirroul, New South Wales, Australia

Letter to Katherine Throsell, 3 July 1922
Australia seems to me a most marvellous country to disappear into. When one has had enough of the world – when one doesn’t want to wrestle with another single thing.

Letter to Achsah Brewster, 24 July 1922
Having done my novel I am out of work until we sail. I shall be penniless utterly when we get to Taos: but then I shall only be as usual. 

August

Rorotonga, Cook Islands

Letter to Earl Brewster, 20 August 1922
Here for a day – such a lovely island – temple – flowers, great red hibiscus – tropical almost but not at all sweltering.

Tahiti

Letter to Catherine Carswell, 22 August 1922
Here till tomorrow afternoon- beautiful – but Papeete a poor, dull, modernish place.

R.M.S Tahiti

Letter to Mary Cannan, 31 August 1922
These are supposed to be the earthly paradises: these South Sea Isles. You can have ‘em. Imagine 25 days confined with 60 Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, and French – never able to get away from them. The more one sees of people, the more one feels it isn’t worth while.

September

Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Letter to Baroness Anna von Richthofen, 5 Sept 1922
One is landsick, the solid ground almost hurts. 

Taos, New Mexico

Letter to Thomas Seltzer, 12 Sept 1922
It is high up, 7000 feet, so I am just feeling a bit dizzy and sleepy, and feel as if my own self were trailing after me like a trail of smoke, some of it still in Australia. How much of me is here I don’t know.

Letter to S.S. Koteliansky, 18 Sept 1922
Mabel Sterne, who is a rich American woman, lends us this new and very charming adobe house which she built for us: because she wants me to write this country up. God knows if I shall. America is more or less as I expected: shove or be shoved.

Letter to Martin Secker, 19 Sept 1922
Since last Christmas Curtis has paid less than £100 into my bank for me. Well, if that is all England cares about my books, I don’t care if England never sees them. If America will accept me and England won’t, I belong to America.

Letter to Thomas Seltzer, 22 Sept 1922
Can you send me a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses. I read it is the last thing in novels: I’d best take a look.

Letter to Else Jaffe, 27 Sept 1922
America is neither free nor brave, but a land of tight, iron-clanking little wills, everybody trying to put it over everybody else, and a land of men absolutely devoid of the real courage of trust, trust in life’s sacred spontaneity. In the Spring I want to come back to Europe.

October

Taos, New Mexico

Letter to Robert Mountsier, 11 October 1922 
Bring for me a lid for my kettle, if its handy, five inches in diameter – any sort of lid, though the kettle is enamel. My lid fell down the well, and I can’t get another. And bring two egg-cups.

Letter to Robert Mountsier, 28 October 1922
I don’t think I can bear to be here very long: too much on Mabel Sterne’s ground, she arranges one too much as if one were a retainer or protégé of hers. I won’t be bullied. Even by kindness.

November

Taos, New Mexico

Letter to Robert Mountsier, 6 Nov 1922
You should see me – cowboy hat, good one, $5: sheepskin coat – $12.50 – corduroy riding breeches, very nice, $5. I hope your hand will be better – We shall have to chop much wood.

Letter to Thomas Seltzer, 28 Nov 1922
Just a word to tell you our news. We are going a little way from Taos, to the Del Monte ranch, about 17 miles away. It’s only 1:5 hours in a car: three hours on horseback. Two young Danes – artists – go with us.

Taos, New Mexico

Letter to Robert Mountsier, 11 October 1922 
Bring for me a lid for my kettle, if its handy, five inches in diameter – any sort of lid, though the kettle is enamel. My lid fell down the well, and I can’t get another. And bring two egg-cups.

Letter to Robert Mountsier, 28 October 1922
I don’t think I can bear to be here very long: too much on Mabel Sterne’s ground, she arranges one too much as if one were a retainer or protégé of hers. I won’t be bullied. Even by kindness.

December

Del Monte Ranch, Questa, New Mexico

Letter to Mary Cannan, 5 Dec 1922
It is snow here – coyotes howl at night – sun very hot during the day. America makes one feel one has swallowed a rather big pebble.

Letter to Mabel Dodge Sterne, 10 Dec 1922
Life has been just a business of chopping wood, fixing doors, putting up shelves, eating and sleeping, since we are here. There is so much more to do, but it can wait. Now I have to bake! 

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