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A. Huxley in Sanary - A condensed biography A.3

Friendship with DH Lawrence

Table of Contents

In the Bloomsbury years Aldous Huxley had had the opportunity to meet DH Lawrence, a then young and exalted poet whose name was later to become famous for sulphurous reasons. Huxley’s path crossed Lawrence’s when in the past they both lived in Florence, and Huxley had on several occasions invited Lawrence to Forte dei Marni. If very different in character the two finally developed an affection for each other; Huxley felt an admiration for the great rebellious mind of DH Lawrence, as Lawrence who was hot tempered and provocative sensed the intelligence but also the kindness of his fellow writer and his wife. Lawrence was then living with Frieda, his volcanic German wife who had supposedly been the model for Lady Chatterley‘s lover. The two couples met again in Switzerland and later in Suresnes where Huxley’s brother-in-law, the Dutch artist Joep Nicholas painted Lawrence’s portrait.

Both Aldous and Maria – who worked on the typing of Lady Chatterley’s manuscript – grew attached to these two larger than life personalities. During their stay in Paris the Huxleys had convinced Lawrence to be examined by doctors. He was subsequently confirmed to have contracted tuberculosis, and was recommended to stay put in a favorable environment. Neither Lawrence nor even less his wife had a real sense of measure; instead of resting, they traveled Europe from Spain to Germany in the midst of the cold 1929 winter. Towards the end of the year the Lawrences were staying at l’Hôtel Beau Rivage in Bandol, the same hotel her friend Kathleen Mansfield had visited some years earlier. A weary body and a troubled soul, Lawrence had finally chosen to take some rest, trying to ease the pain caused by a now well-advanced illness. In his last letters to the Huxley’s DH Lawrence lauded this part of the coast, comparable in beauty to the place they had known so well in Italy. He even wrote to encourage them to find a house to purchase, but in January a general aggravation of his condition forced his doctor to send him to a sanatorium in Vence. When at the end of February 1930 Aldous and Maria Huxley were urgently called to visit him, DH Lawrence was on his deathbed. The Huxleys spent several painful days at the bedside of their dear friend who saw himself progressively drifting, before he passed away on March 2, 1930.

Aldous and Maria went back to Bandol with the firm decision to find themselves a house in the vicinity. On the advice of Mme Douillet, the owner of L’Hôtel Beau Rivage who had befriended Lawrence, the Huxleys bought a property on a rocky promontory off the main road between Bandol and Sanary. The house had to be redesigned to accommodate the needs of the writer and his family. Walls had to be knocked down, a flat Moorish style roof built in place of the conventional one, and modern commodities installed, even a refrigerator, rare for the time. In the mean time the Huxleys had to find a place to stay, conveniently there was an hotel near-by named Hôtel Chardon, where the couple and their now 10 years old son stayed during the refurbishing of the house. Here they met Gulia, who freshly arrived from Tuscany was working as chambermaid. At this moment precisely the Fosca story begins.

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