From New Mexico to Mexico

Their stay in Taos was fairly brief, much shorter than I would have understood from other reading. In fact from the time they arrived there in September 1922 until the time they fell out with Mabel only a brief couple of months passed. It became clear to them that there was a price to pay for having a patron. She was generous to them but demanding at the same time, clamouring that Lawrence would write a novel for her. Frieda wrote to her mother that her husband was not happy in New Mexico no matter what the benefits to his health might have been; the mountain air was deemed to be beneficial to his chesty ailments and his general health that winter was the best it had been for quite some time.

Mabel Dodge Sterne was nonetheless an interesting character. She had been married twice already by the time the Lawrences met up with her and she was already under the influence of her third husband, Tony Luhan, an American Indian who set up a teepee on the lawn of her house where he drummed each night until she came to him. Mabel had spent some time in Europe with her first husband, a wealthy architect, socialising in the company of Picasso. She wrote a book called Lorenzo in Taos which was a memoir of the time Lawrence spent in New Mexico.

The Lawrences were staying in Mabel’s adobe house for a time until her advances to Lawrence became too much of a threat for him. He wrote to her that she would endanger his marriage which was the best thing in his life, and he would not allow any threat to his special relationship with Frieda which was now central to his own existence.

They moved to the Kiowa Ranch some distance up into the mountains from Taos to live alone but it appears that they actually stayed there only four days, before moving on (again) to the Del Monte ranch where they were near a newly married farming couple called the Hawks who supplied them with milk, eggs and meat. They shared the homestead with a couple of Danish painters who were good company for them in the winter evenings. They had no electricity but enjoyed the winter there, going for long rides in the afternoon on horseback or chopping wood for the fires to bake their own bread.

Shortly after Lawrence’s long time literary agent Mountsier came to visit, but that ended in his dismissal by Lawrence who by then was glad to be rid of old things and move on to the new. Part of the reason for Mountsier’s dismissal was the way he treated Lawrence’s newly acquired American publisher, Seltzer, who was Jewish.

Lawrence had Mexico in his sights for his and Frieda’s next destination. But they would not go alone. They recruited some friends to go with them and in the end a gay couple called Binner and Johnson would accompany them on their next adventure.


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