Looking down rather reprovingly from the shelf opposite are the three large volumes of Edward Nehls's Composite Biography, a version or two of Harry T. Moore's frequently revised biography, the first and so far the only volume of the three-tier Cambridge biography, and the ample lifework of Emile Delavenay. There are more beside them, and more to come: Rosie Jackson says there are ten in progress. Apart from the full-life biographies there are books covering short periods of Lawrence's life: his wartime adventures and agonies, his years in Italy, in Australia, in New Mexico and Mexico, and so on. There are also numerous memoirs by people such as Jessie Chambers, Helen Corke, Catherine Carswell, Dorothy Brett, Mabel Dodge, a pair of gay Danes, and of course Frieda Lawrence, who knew the novelist at various times in various parts of the world. (There are naturally books also about Frieda, including this new one by Rosie Jackson, and about the von Richthofen family.) To back all this up we now have the seven lavishly annotated volumes of the Cambridge edition of the Letters, and a dozen or so lavishly annotated editions of the Works. I do not speak of more workaday stuff, all the books which have, possibly in the course of saying something else, to say something about Lawrence's extraordinary life. Now they must all move over to allow another full-scale life, and an impassioned essay on Frieda, to be squeezed in.
LRB 10 November 1994 | PDF Download