The University of Wisconsin Press

Biography / English Literature / Women’s Studies

Living at the Edge
A Biography of D. H. Lawrence and Frieda von Richthofen
Michael Squires and Lynn K. Talbot

“A fresh, fair-minded, richly textured life of the English novelist and his vibrant German wife."
—Keith Cushman, past president of the D. H. Lawrence Society of North America

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this double biography of D. H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda von Richthofen is the first to draw fully on Frieda’s unpublished letters and on interviews with people who knew her well.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.

Michael Squires is professor of English at Virginia Tech. A past president of the D. H. Lawrence Society of America and recipient of the Harry T. Moore Distinguished Scholar Award for Lifetime Achievement in D. H. Lawrence Studies, he is the author and editor of numerous other books about D. H. Lawrence, including the Penguin edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Lynn K. Talbot is professor of Spanish at Roanoke College. They are husband and wife, and together they are compiling and editing the complete letters of Frieda Lawrence.

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June 2002
LC: 2001005419 PR
518 pp.   6 x 9   40 b/w photographs

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Cloth $34.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-17750-8
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“The most evocatively detailed narrative yet written about the marriage of D. H. and Frieda Lawrence. This unusual double biography offers eye-opening new perspectives on Lawrence’s writings as it chronicles the troubled but passionate union of this fascinating couple whom we knew perhaps less well than we thought."
—Dennis Jackson, past editor of the D. H. Lawrence Review


Wisconsin edition is not for sale in the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth (except in Canada).

For U.K. and Commonwealth sales, contact Robert Hale Ltd. in London.

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Updated June 4, 2013

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