Lawrence, Frieda von Richthofen, 1879-1956

Alternative names
Birth 1879-08-11
Death 1956-08-11
German, English

Biographical notes:

Frieda Emma Johanna Maria von Richthofen was born on August 11, 1879 in Metz, France. In 1912, Frieda met David Herbert (D.H.) Lawrence, and they married in 1914. Frieda Lawrence was intimately involved with D.H. Lawrence's work. Facets of her personality are often discernable as components of characters in his poems and novels. After D.H. Lawrence's death in 1930, Frieda settled in New Mexico. Frieda died in Taos on August 11, 1956.

From the guide to the Frieda Lawrence Photograph Collection, 1910-1930, (Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico.)

Author and wife of D.H. Lawrence.

From the description of Frieda Lawrence Collection, 1870-1969. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122453227

Wife of D.H.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : [n.p.], to Herbert J. Seligmann, 1931 Nov. 14. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270871276

Born Emma Maria Frieda Johanna Baroness (Freiin) von Richthofen, Frieda Lawrence (1879-1956) was the second of three daughters born to Prussian Baron Friedrich von Richthofen and Anna Marquier von Richthofen. The family lived in a rural suburb of Metz, an area recently conquered in the Franco-Prussian War and subjected to a regime of forced Germanization. Frieda attended a local Roman Catholic convent school but found few friends among the French population. Her social world was composed of her sisters, with whom she alternately competed for parental attention and allied herself with in order to manipulate their parents, the family servants in whose care the girls were generally left, and Prussian soldiers whom she met while playing in the trenches left over from the war.

In July of 1898 Anna von Richthofen took Frieda and her younger sister on their annual summer visit to Freiburg, in the Black Forest. It was here that Frieda met Ernest Weekley, a language scholar and lecturer at University College, Nottingham. Overwhelmed by Frieda's looks and natural intelligence, he quickly made an offer of marriage, which she accepted. They were wed on August 29, 1899, and the couple settled in Nottingham, England, where Weekley continued his teaching and Frieda endeavored to fit into the working class neighborhood. Their first child, Charles Montague, was born in June of 1900, followed by Elsa Agnes Frieda in September 1902, and Barbara Joy in October 1904.

Between 1902 and 1912, Frieda had a series of affairs, including one with Otto Gross in 1907. In 1912 she met David Herbert Lawrence, then a student of her husband, and within a few months they eloped. They traveled first to Metz and then spent the summer traveling through the Alps and into Italy. In 1913 they returned to England where Frieda attempted to see her children, but was prevented by Weekley who filed for a divorce. The divorce was made final in May of 1914 and it was not until the late 1920s that she was able to freely communicate with her children again. Frieda and D. H. Lawrence were married in a private ceremony in July 1914.

For the next several years they traveled almost constantly in France, Italy, and Germany, staying with friends, or in borrowed housing, borrowing money when they needed to. Prevented from leaving England during World War I, they stayed in remote towns where they were harassed by police and ostracized by the local citizens because of her nationality and his burgeoning reputation as a pornographic writer. After the war they traveled mostly in Italy between 1919 and 1921.

In 1922 they sailed for America via Ceylon, Australia, and Tahiti. They reached San Francisco in September 1922 and traveled on to Taos, New Mexico, at the invitation of Mable Dodge Luhan. They spent the winter there before moving on to Mexico in the spring of 1923. Later that year they returned to Europe to visit Frieda's children and ailing mother. In 1924 they revisited the American Southwest for the last time before D.H. Lawrence's death. In 1930 D.H. Lawrence died near Vence, Italy, of tuberculosis and was buried nearby. Shortly after his death, Frieda returned to England in an attempt to sort out his estate, and then traveled between Italy and Germany for the rest of the year. In 1931 she returned to Taos in the company of Angelo Ravagli.

Frieda purchased land in Taos and built a ranch which Ravagli managed. In 1934 Not I, but the Wind, Frieda's memoir of life with D.H. Lawrence, was published. Kiowa ranch became a summer home when Frieda acquired a winter home in El Prado, Mexico. During World War II, Frieda and Ravagli, subjected to suspicion and harassment in America, stayed in Mexico. In 1950 Frieda married Ravagli. The union was largely a matter of convenience to protect his immigrant status, as their relationship had become more of a business partnership than romance. Frieda made a final visit to England in 1952 to visit her children and meet her grandchildren.

Frieda Lawrence died of a stroke, early in the morning on her birthday, August 11, 1956. Her autobiography, And the Fullness Thereof, which she had been slowly pulling together over several years, was published posthumously in 1964 as Frieda Lawrence, the Memoirs and Correspondence.

From the guide to the Frieda Lawrence Collection TXRC98-A6., 1870-1969, (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)

Ruth Hannas was born on 26 September 1892 in Greeley, Colorado. She met Freida von Richthofen Lawrence in 1923 aboard the "Orbita." She was a teacher in Berkeley, California, and in Greensboro, North Carolina. Ruth Hannas died in January 1976 in Birmingham, Alabama.

A distant relative of the "Red Baron" Manfred von Richthofen, Frieda von Richthofen was born on 11 August 1879 to an aristocratic family in Metz, Germany. In 1899 she moved to England after marrying Ernest Weekley, a much older man than she; the couple had three children. Frieda met the author D. H. Lawrence in March 1912 and the two eloped to Germany, leaving her children behind. After her divorce from Weekley, Frieda and Lawrence married in 1914.

Lawrence suffered from frail health and the couple travelled widely, leaving post-war England at the earliest opportunity. They eventually settled at Kiowa Ranch near Taos, New Mexico. They left New Mexico for Lawrence's health and went to Scandicci, Italy, near Tuscany. After Lawrence's death in Vence, France in 1930, Frieda returned to the ranch at Taos to live with Angelo Ravagli, with whom she had carried on an intermittent affair since 1925. In 1935, Frieda sent Angelo to Vence, to have Lawrence's body exhumed and cremated and his ashes brought back to the ranch. They married in 1950. Frieda died on her 77th birthday in Taos.

From the guide to the Ruth Hannas letters MSS. 0621., 1924-1958, (University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama)

David Herbert Richards Lawrence (D. H. Lawrence) was born at Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England on September 11, 1885 to Lydia Lawrence (n?e Beardsall), a school teacher, and Arthur Lawrence, a miner. D. H. Lawrence won a scholarship to the Nottingham Boys' High School (1898) and by 1902 had become an uncertified teacher. In 1906 he began a two year teacher-training course at University College, Nottingham and in 1907 began writing The White Peacock. By 1910, The White Peacock was published and Lawrence had begun work on Sons and Lovers; shortly after, he gave up teaching.

In 1912, Lawrence met Frieda Weekley, wife of a professor of French at the University College (Frieda was the second daughter of Baron Friedrich von Richthofen), and eloped with her the same year although she did not get a divorce from her husband and marry Lawrence until July 13, 1914. During this period, Lawrence wrote and had published several novels and works of poetry. Frieda and Lawrence spent much of their time in Italy. In 1920, Lawrence had a private edition of Women in Love published in New York, though he had finished the work in 1916.

Lawrence and Frieda traveled the world, from England to Sicily to Ceylon and Australia. In 1922, they traveled to Taos, New Mexico and the Kiowa Ranch, their first home in America. The impetus for coming to Taos was his lengthy correspondence with Mabel Dodge Luhan who gave the Kiowa Ranch to the Lawrences. Because Lawrence had refused to accept such a valuable gift, Luhan gave the ranch to Frieda. Lawrence later insisted on giving Mabel his original manuscript for Sons and Lovers as payment. During his time in Taos, Lawrence worked on The Woman Who Rode Away and Other Stories; Mornings in Mexico (many of which are in New Mexico); and The Plumed Serpent.

From 1923-1925, Lawrence divided his time between Mexico, New Mexico, and trips to Europe. During his time in New Mexico, Lawrence was involved in the swirl of the Taos art colony, and with his English compatriot, Dorothy Brett. The Plumed Serpent was published in 1927 and Lawrence finished work on and published Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1928. An exhibition of Lawrence's paintings held in London in 1929 was raided by police. D.H. Lawrence died in France, March 2, 1930. Frieda Lawrence returned to New Mexico in 1933, and in 1935 D.H. Lawrence's ashes were brought to the Kiowa Ranch where a small chapel was built to receive them.

From the guide to the D. H. Lawrence Realia, [1912], (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)


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  • Authors--1910-1930
  • English literature--20th century
  • Authors' spouses
  • Authors, English--20th century--Marriage
  • Authors
  • Authors, English--20th century--Biography
  • Literature and Authors
  • Women authors
  • von Richthofen family


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  • Taos (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • Taos (N.M.) (as recorded)