Thursday, June 24, 2010

D. H. Lawrence Ranch and Monument

Yesterday we headed up to the ranch where DH Lawrence lived with his wife Frieda and the English artist Dorothy Brett for several seasons prior to his death in 1930 while he was in Europe. He had been invited to stay here in Taos by Mabel Dodge who was instrumental in creating an artists community here in Taos in the early 1900's by encouraging East Coast artists and authors to come here and stay at her home. Many of these artists were completely taken with the area and stayed on. One of these was DH Lawrence. As he needed a quiet area to write, she let him use a cabin (above left)on a ranch she had purchased in what is now the Carson National Forest just north of Taos. It took us an hour to drive through Taos and up the mostly dirt road to this site and it probably was an all day trip for the Lawrences back in 1922. The cabin was in disrepair and Lawrence had to replace the roof but in spite of having no electricity or other amenities, he was able to be productive in his writing, producing a short novel (St. Mawr) and parts of the Plumed Serpent. He wrote everything in longhand at a bench under a tall pine tree (above right) in front of the cabin. At a later date when the Lawrences were not at the cabin, Mabel let Georgia O'Keefe stay there for a while. Georgia lay on the bench and looked up through the pine at the night sky and decided to paint "The Lawrence Tree" (above left). A print of this painting has been mounted under the tree and the original painting is in a museum back east. As Lawrence did not know how to type, Dorothy Brett typed the manuscript for him when she was not painting (Brett continued to live in the Taos area for the rest of her life and her paintings are in many of the local museums). Lady Brett lived in an even more primitive one room cabin (above right) near the animal shed where Lawrence had cows which he named and chickens which he fed. Lawrence wrote often how deeply the Taos air and landscape had touched his soul and he enjoyed interacting with the animals of the ranch and of the surrounding forest. After his death, Frieda returned from Europe with his ashes and created a monument (right and left) on the ranch where she mixed his ashes with the cement as she did not want Mabel Dodge to get them and scatter them, as Mabel and Dorothy wanted to do. To purchase the ranch she paid Mabel with Lawrence's handwritten manuscript of Sons and Lovers. After her death in 1956 she was buried in front of the monument. The cross and monument stone that you see in the above photo is her grave. His monument is inside the enclosure. The property was deeded to the University of New Mexico just prior to her death and they maintain it to this day.

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