Dashingly told and meticulously researched, this double biography of D. H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda von Richthofen is the first to draw fully on Frieda’s unpublished letters and on interviews with people who knew her well. It explores their collision with an industrial world they hated and chronicles the stormy relationship between husband and wife. The strong sexual vitality that inspired Lawrence’s art brought both joy and anguish to his marriage. Here, the Lawrences emerge as proud but not conceited in their unconventional lives, staunch in the face of fierce opposition from a conformist society.
Living at the Edge follows the separate lives of Lawrence and Frieda up to their first meeting in 1912. Tracing their new life together, it depicts their grateful escape from the English Midlands; their discovery of exotic places where they made temporary homes—Italy, Cornwall, Australia, New Mexico, and Mexico; Lawrence’s courageous battle against illness; and, after his death in 1930, Frieda’s success in recreating the simple life on ranches near Taos, New Mexico, where she died in 1956.
At the center of their story is Lawrence’s literary career. Biographers Squires and Talbot see Lawrence’s major novels—The Rainbow, Women in Love, Lady Chatterley’s Lover—as a fresh way to understand his turbulent and conflicted life. They reveal the extreme care with which he rewrote his personal experience to satisfy his deepest needs, and they introduce the many influential people who entered the Lawrences’ lives and work. The rich materials from Frieda’s letters reveal a different Lawrence—more difficult as a man but more interesting as an artist; they also reveal a different Frieda—more vibrant as a woman, more substantial as a companion. This superb biography gives both Lawrence and Frieda striking new dimensions.