D. H. Lawrence and Mabel Dodge Luhan

      Arthur J. Bachrach, Ph.D.
            In September, 1922, the internationally known British writer D. H. Lawrence arrived, with his wife, Frieda, at the railroad station in Lamy, New Mexico. They had traveled from Australia to San Francisco, then to Lamy, to come to Taos at the invitation of Mabel Dodge Sterne, the patroness of arts and culture in Taos. Mabel Dodge met the Lawrences at Lamy, driven by her chauffeur, and later husband, Taos Pueblo Indian Tony Luhan. Stopping the night in Santa Fe, they arrived in Taos the following morning, September 11, Lawrence’s thirty-seventh birthday.
            It was the beginning of an intense, sometimes strained, relationship. Mabel, daughter of a well-to-do Buffalo, New York family, had a long history of cultivating arts and letters, surrounding herself with famous artists and writers in her salons in Florence, Italy and in New York City. She continued her support of literature and the arts in Taos and it was her hope that Lawrence would write the definitive novel of the Taos Pueblo. Lawrence did not write the novel Mabel had hoped for, but he did write a number of essays and articles on Indian life and culture.
      The relationship between the Lawrences, living close to Mabel's big house, and Mabel became difficult and was further complicated by the arrival, in March, 1924, of Dorothy Brett, a British artist and friend of the Lawrences, who accompanied them on their return from London to Taos. The interaction of the three women, all devoted to Lawence, was intense and at times stormy.
      Mabel offered the Lawrences a ranch of 160 acres in San Cristobal, some seventeen miles north of Taos. Lawrence refused, presumably unwilling to be any more beholden to Mabel, but Frieda accepted the offer and the deed was in her name. The Kiowa Ranch, as Lawrence named it, became a focus of one of the most productive periods of writing in Lawrence’s life.
      Lawrence encouraged Mabel to write about her own exciting life and, while back in Italy in 1925, continued corresponding with Mabel and edited manuscripts she sent to him. Her book, Lorenzo in Taos, is written loosely in the form of a letter to Robinson Jeffers, the celebrated poet who had been a guest of Mabel’s in Taos with references to Dorothy Brett and Spud Johnson among others. The book is a highly personal and most informative account of an intense relationship with a great writer. It is an important work and its reprinting is welcomed by scholars and those of us who have come increasingly to respect Mabel’s contributions in the world of arts and letters through her support of many individuals and her own creative spirit.