Manuscript Draft of The Woman Who Rode Away
D.H. Lawrence. Holograph Manuscript of The Woman Who
Rode Away. [n.d., 1924].
in the Hand of D.H. Lawrence
Forty-four and a half pages handwritten by D.H. Lawrence in ink with additional holograph corrections, re-writes, and textual insertions. A fascinating look into the creative process of one of the twentieth-century's greatest and most controversial British authors. Twenty-four sheets of ruled notebook paper, approximately 6.5 x 8.5 inches, written on both sides. Lawrence numbered each page, skipping page numbers 42, 45, and 46 without skipping any text. There are two blank unnumbered pages between pages 39 and 40.
Some rough edges and a few pages still connected along the inner margins, light rust stains on first and last pages in the upper corners from paper clip use, small hole in lower half of last leaf not affecting text, occasional light stains, ink number stamp on verso of each page's lower left corner (numbered backwards from 86 to 63) not affecting text, else in very good condition. Housed in a "The 'Empire' Portfolio" folder with Lawrence's Phoenix device and title in an unknown hand on the front cover.
Originally written at the Kiowa Ranch in New Mexico during the summer of 1924, The Woman Who Rode Away was first published in 1925 as two installments in the magazine The Dial and later in 1928 as the title story for a collection of Lawrence's works. The story tells the tale of an unnamed woman, who leaves an unsatisfactory home life on a ranch in Mexico to seek out the spiritual life of the fictitious Chilchui Indians.
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"Does the white woman seek the gods of the Chilchui because she is weary of her own God?" came the question.
"Yes, she does. She is tired of the white man's God," she replied, thinking that was what they wanted her to say. She would like to serve the gods of the Chilchui.
Most parts of the text, when modified, are crossed out with a single thin line, and are still legible beneath, allowing one to see Lawrence's first draft choices. There are frequent changes to the text, such as in the Chilchui's village square, where Lawrence initially described the buildings as "pyramids," apparently changed his mind and crossed them out.
Some sections have multiple levels of emendations, such as in the last sentence of the above quote, where the words "to come to the gods of the Chilchui" were changed to "to belong to the gods of the Chilchui," and then changed again to the final published form "to serve the gods of the Chilchui."
Perhaps the most striking example of this is an extensive re-write on manuscript pages 36 and 37, of the "day of ceremonial," where the initial lines describing "gods" and "cosmic happenings" are crossed out and replaced with an augmented alternate reading, which itself varies from the final published text.
This remarkable manuscript in the hand of D.H. Lawrence was purchased by Johnie Griffin, most likely in the early 1950s, from Lawrence's widow Frieda. Included with this lot, by way of provenance and as a testament to their close friendship, are photocopies of three holograph letters from Frieda Lawrence to Johnie Griffin from the mid-1950s. The letters mention mutual friends, such as Aldous Huxley, Mabel Dodge Lujan, and Alexandra Fechin (Tinka).
Also present is a photocopy of a typed five paged transcript, which includes a letter from Frieda to her mother; as well as, ruminations on DH Lawrence after his passing. She makes a striking observation, that, when in Buenos Aires, years after DH Lawrence's death, she saw his books for sale in a shop window. She wrote: "'Here,' I thought, 'Where he has never been, people buy his books.' One thin, narrow man has such power all over the world."
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