Posts Tagged ‘Til Death Do Us Part’

Not I But The Wind, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 

Not I, But The Wind, tombstone of Frieda Lawrence, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 Emma Maria Frieda Johanna Freiin
(Baroness) von Richthofen

In Memory of twenty five years of incomparable companionship – Angie

Emma Maria Frieda Johanna Freiin (Baroness) von Richthofen was a distant relative of the “Red Baron” Manfred von Richthofen. But she became famous as Frieda Lawrence, wife of the British novelist D. H. Lawrence. Married to David Herbert Lawrence for 18 years, Frieda returned to Taos after his death in Vence, France in 1930, to live with her third husband, Angelo Ravagli.

After Lawrence’s death, she wrote Not I, but the Wind about her nomadic and turbulent years with D. H. Lawrence. It was released by Viking in 1934 and sold for $2.50. The book title is from the poem, Song of a Man Who Has Come Through, and contains many of Lawrence’s unpublished letters. 

In a Time magazine article, D.H.L. – Last Word, published Monday, October 8th, 1934, Frieda admits the relationship was stormy, and that Lawrence would sometimes lash out, and hit her in rage. She did not remain silent. It wasn’t her way:

“I did not want to write this book,” says she. “I wanted to give Lawrence my silence.” Then, with refreshing candor: “Do I want to blow my own trumpet? Yes, I do. . . . I will try to write as honestly as I can. Lies are all very well in their place but the truth seems to me so much more interesting and proud.”

ybonesy and I visited the D. H. Lawrence Memorial in February of 2007 on one of our “free days” at a writing retreat at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House. She read Frieda’s epitaph out loud and we chuckled when she mistook incompatible for incomparable.

It is said that Mabel traded Kiowa (the D. H. Lawrence Ranch) to the Lawrences for the manuscript, Sons and Lovers. And she welcomed them to stay at her home when they were in Taos. But according to the Time article, Mabel’s and Frieda’s relationship was strained:

As for Lawrence’s women worshipers, Frieda put up with them as long, as she could, then made a scene.

One day in Taos, N. Mex., whither they had been invited by Mabel Dodge Sterne Luhan (Lorenzo in Taos), “Mabel came over and told me she didn’t think I was the right woman for Lawrence and other things equally upsetting and I was thoroughly roused and said: ‘Try it then yourself, living with a genius, see what it is like and how easy it is, take him if you can.’

If Frieda’s epitaph is any indication, she found a kindred spirit in Angelo Ravagli. The day we walked the winding path to her headstone was blue and chilled. Ice dripped off the tin roofs. Crows swooped in over the power lines. Dorothy Brett’s blue chair sat motionless in her cabin; the typewriter she used to type D. H.’s manuscripts was gone.

Near the Lawrence’s cabin, knotted branches of Georgia’s pine rose in spiky swirls to the sky. Not much had changed. Time seemed to stand still. We walked step by step over the same land they had walked in the 1920’s. The same sun beat through the oxygen-thin altitude.

I thought of everything I had read and heard, including the uproar over Lady Chatterley’s Lover and D. H.’s rocky relationships with women. Frieda answered those questions, too:

“In his heart of hearts I think he always dreaded women, felt that they were in the end more powerful than men.” And her indignant denial that in Lawrence there was anything of the pornographer: “Passionate people don’t need tricks.”

         Frieda Lawrence, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Frieda Lawrence, photograph on her tombstone outside the D. H. Lawrence Memorial, near Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Well, not quite. Between the two lovers, flows a river of contradiction. Through letters and words. Even in death.

As Lawrence lay dying he said to her: “Why, oh why, did we quarrel so much?” She answered: “Such as we were, violent creatures, how could we help it?”

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, March 16th, 2008

-quotes are from the original Time magazine article, D.H.L. – Last Word, Monday, October 8th, 1934

-related to posts: The Name Game (What’s In A Name?), Giants Sat Here

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By Laurie L.

He turned to me as we approached the driveway of the cozy bed and breakfast just outside of Torrey, Utah, and said, “Oh, by the way, your name is Patty.”


“When I was making the reservations the guy asked for my wife’s name, so I naturally said Patty.”


I had to remember to be Patty for the next three days.

Traveling with someone else’s husband has its challenges, some easier to handle than others. I‘ve learned never – ever – to pick up the phone in a hotel room. I’m careful when checking in for a flight together, having found that the chances of my name being on his baggage claim ticket are about 99 to 1.

I’ve also learned to avoid cozy bed and breakfasts, where the guests like to chat over breakfast and the owners feel a need to get to know you. They tend to like sending Christmas cards inviting “you and your lovely wife” back next year.

When I tell women friends about my relationship, they usually lean over, look me in the eye and ask sympathetically: “So, do you think he’ll ever leave his wife?” I look at them like they’re crazy, as if to say, ” Now, why would I want him to do that?”

Being a wife is not nearly as much fun.

These same friends also roll their eyes when I tell them that I believe he has a good, solid marriage. He has never tried the “my wife doesn’t understand me” bit, partly because, well, she does, and partly because this isn’t about her. We take the French approach – there are wives and there are mistresses and one need not cancel out the other.

Living together inevitably breeds minor (or major) annoyances, that a man and his mistress have no time to nurture. You never lose one of his socks in the dryer, because you don’t do his laundry. And just think, you never have to look for excuses not to spend Christmas with his mother. (Of course, on the down side, you can forget about ever spending his birthday, or New Year’s Eve with him, though there’s always your birthday.)

I haven’t told too many people about my relationship – more to protect him than me. I’m often reluctant to bring it up, thinking people will be shocked – or disgusted. But most often, I’m surprised to find complicity, confessions from the least-expected sources that they, too, have been – or are – involved with a married man.

A few weeks ago I asked a friend, a writing teacher, for some help. I’ve been working on my first novel (which, like most first novels, is based far too much on real life) and I was stuck. I didn’t know where to go with the story. She asked how I saw my real-life situation ending. Her question blew me away.

“I never thought of it,” I told her. It was true. I can imagine us going on like this til death do us part. I can imagine me getting married again, even him getting divorced and remarried, and still, us continuing the way we are.

The only reason I can see for ending things would be if his wife (who’s decidedly not French) found out and insisted we stop seeing each other. I have no doubt he’d choose her over me.

But I’m not complaining. The pleasures far outweigh the inconveniences. Especially when I remember what a friend said to me the other day, succinctly summing up her own experience with a long-distance lover.

“You know how it is,” she said with a knowing smile. “You have great sex and eat.”


After graduating college as a French major, Laurie L. moved to Paris “for six months” — and stayed for almost 27 years, before moving to Washington DC in 2004. During the day she works as a writer/editor in the field of international development, but her real passions are traveling and writing personal essays — with an occasional foray into fiction. She has studied with Natalie Goldberg and believes that Writing Practice — aside from being a lot of fun — is an essential part of the writing process.

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