Previous

Frieda Lawrence

(1879-1956) – Hun wife

In 1915 D.H. and Frieda Lawrence moved to the Cornish village of Zennor to enjoy a simple life. However, Frieda, a relative of famous German military pilot the ‘Red Baron’, and her writer husband were subjected to rumours of spying for the enemy and were driven out of Cornwall in late 1917.

Credit: Archives and Cornish Studies Service and image provided by the Lawrence Collection, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Read full story

Frieda Lawrence, née Freiin von Richthofen, was born in Metz, Germany on 11th August 1879. She was a relative of German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen (the ‘Red Baron’) and always kept faithful to her German roots. 

Frieda met D.H. Lawrence in 1912 and the couple married in 1914. Arriving in Zennor in 1915, many locals became suspicious of them and accused them of spying for the Germans. In hindsight these accusations seem absurd, and highlight the extent of paranoia felt in Cornwall at the time. The Lawrences were frequently accused of contacting German submarines and even their washing line was perceived to be a means of signalling to them. On one occasion, when Frieda returned from a trip, she was accused of being in possession of a camera, which was banned under Defence of the Realm legislation, only for them to discover it was a loaf of bread. Frieda’s annoyance  at the hostility they received is portrayed by the character Harriet in D.H. Lawrence’s semi-autobiographical novel Kangaroo, ‘And one is treated like this, for nothing. For nothing, but just because I wasn’t born English’. The couple were eventually driven out of Cornwall in late 1917 and moved to London, later travelling until D.H. Lawrence’s death in 1930.

The Cornish Studies Library in Redruth holds books on Frieda’s experiences including interviews with her neighbours in Cornwall. 

Key words: women

Credit: Archives and Cornish Studies Service and image provided by the Lawrence Collection, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texa at Austin.  Text by University of Exeter students Alex and Florian