D.H. Lawrence, author

D.H. Lawrence arrived in Cornwall in December 1915 and stayed for nearly two years. His two works featuring Cornwall, The Fox (1918) and Kangaroo (1923), were written after he had left

Lawrence's novel, The Rainbow (1915), was prosecuted for obscenity by the Public Morality Council. Over 1000 copies of the book were destroyed on the orders of the Bow Street magistrates. This removed Lawrence's source of income, and reduced his chances of getting any more novels published in England.

Lawrence, who was opposed to the war, was twice called up for military service but was rejected on health grounds.

Lawrence married Frieda at the Kensington's Registrar's Office, in London, on the 13th. July 1914, shortly after her divorce from Ernest Weekley. They had intended to return to Italy in August, but the outbreak of war trapped them in England. They moved to Cornwall, staying at Tregerthen Cottage in Zennor.

They found a cottage in Zennor that they could rent for five pounds per year. They bought some second-hand furniture and moved in during March 1916. They persuaded Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry to take the cottage next door. However Katherine hated it there ands Murry turned down Lawrence's offer of blood-brotherhood and after only a few weeks they left.

There nearby farming family reminded him of his youth and "The Haggs". He became friendly with the Hockings of Tregerthen Farm. There has been speculation about whether he had a homosexual relationship with William Henry Hocking. Frieda said that she thought he did, and the Prologue to Women in Love would seem to suggest that Lawrence found him physically attractive, but there is no proof.

Frieda was a cousin of the German pilot, and air ace, Baron Manfred von Richthofen. Frieda and Lawrence were apparently often heard singing German songs as they walked along the cliffs.

As the war progressed, anti German feeling in the country grew, and some of the Cornish people turned against Lawrence and Frieda. War-time rumors developed: there was a stock of petrol for German submarines at the bottom of the cliffs near the Lawrences' cottage: the patterns on the Lawrence's chimney were a signal for patrolling submarines (the main Atlantic convoy route lay along the nearby coast). They were stopped on one occasion by a military patrol and their shopping searched (a square loaf of bread was seized on as a camera).

A letter written by Frieda in February 1917 refers to 3 ships being torpedoed "just here" and they saw the men struggling in the water. In 1917 they were accused of signaling to submarine crews in the channel using lights, and their cottage was searched by the police. Finally, on October 11th 1917 they received an order to leave the county by the 15th, under the Defence of the Realm Act.

Lawrence describes much of his Cornwall stay (and expulsion) in the "Nightmare" chapter of Kangaroo.

 

Pictures of DH Lawrence's Cottage in Zennor

Zennor, Cornwall