The Nightmare Years

A Cornish cottage, overlooking the sea, with a little land to cultivate and good friends nearby to provide provisions...... it sounds idyllic, even in the middle of war-time.

 When the Lawrences moved to Cornwall in it was to find a little peace and solitude in a place where they could live cheaply. This last was necessary, as with the destruction of The Rainbow Lawrence's reputation had been severely damaged: he had effectively lost his means of earning.

Arriving at Zennor, they found a cottage which they could rent for five pounds per year! They bought some second-hand furniture and moved in during March 1916. As always, once they had gained solitude, they sought to lose it. They immediately persuaded Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry to take the cottage next door.

There wasn't a great deal of peace either...... Katherine hated it there; Frieda and Lawrence fought with their usual ferocity; Murry turned down Lawrence's offer of blood-brotherhood and after only a few weeks the Rananim of four was over.

 There were other visitors, some of whom found the Lawrences easier to bear. And, for Lawrence, there was a farm nearby, with a family who reminded him of his youth and "The Haggs". He became friendly with the Hockings of Tregerthen Farm as he had been friendly with the Chambers there.

There has been much speculation about whether there was a homosexual relationship between William Henry Hocking and Lawrence. Frieda is reported to have said that she believed it was so - the Prologue to Women in Love would seem to suggest that Lawrence found him physically attractive - there is no conclusive evidence either way.

 During late 1916 war activity intensified - many young men were being killed and Frieda was German.... Some of the Cornish people turned against Lawrence and Frieda and things worsened as 1917 progressed. They were investigated by the police - their cottage searched - accused of showing lights (signalling to submarine crews in the channel). Finally, on October 11th 1917 they received an order to leave the county by the 15th.

 Small wonder that Lawrence became bitter about his home country. They destroyed his work as "utter filth" and expelled him from his home on suspicion of "spying"!

Lawrence describes much of his Cornwall stay (and expulsion) in the "Nightmare" chapter of Kangaroo.