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“Vive les femmes! e la stagione inglese!” Rina Secker, Lawrence’s Discrete Muse

Nick Ceramella

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Rina Secker and Lawrence at Villa Bernarda, Spotorno, 1926.

1The quotation appearing in the title of this article (“Long live the ladies! and the English season”) comes from a letter that Lawrence wrote to Martin Secker at Villa Bernarda, Spotorno in 1925. He tells Secker, with his typical ironic touch, that his sister Ada is arriving with a friend: “A bit of friction down at the Villa Maria but probably it’s only the weather. Rain again today.” (Letters, henceforth L,v. 389) The words are indeed ominously prophetic concerning the biggest “storm” in Lawrence’s life as regards his relationships with women, those in his family in particular. I will argue that, despite the extremely tense situation, the experience was somewhat softened by the discrete presence of a very helpful and understanding friend, Rina, Martin Secker’s wife (Lawrence’s London publisher). As we learn, for the first time, through her letters – mostly unpublished until bits and pieces appeared in Richard Owen’s book Lady Chatterley’s Villa, in 2014 – Rina became intimately involved with Lawrence and Frieda, and was really caring during their whole stay in Spotorno.

2As usual, everything started because of Lawrence’s restlessness, which kept him always on the go, looking for sun, peace, and nature. Martin Secker assured him that the healthiest and best place for responding to his needs was Spotorno, a tiny village on the Italian Riviera, which made him decide to go there. At the end of the summer 1925, confirmation of this is given by Frieda in Not I, But the Wind:

[Lawrence] became restless again and wanted to go to Europe. To the Mediterranean he wished to go. So on the coast, not far from Genoa we found Spotorno, that Martin Secker had told us was not overrun with foreigners. (henceforth NIBW 193)

3It is here that Rina, (née Capellero), comes into play. This charming young lady, who had been brought up in England, persuaded the Lawrences to join her in Spotorno. Her father Luigi had just bought the little Hotel Miramare there, with an extension to the adjoining Villa Maria, where Rina moved with Adrian, her twenty-month-old son, around October 1925. Lawrence, before travelling from Baden Baden, where he was staying with Frieda, drew her up a letter, saying: “Mrs Secker, perhaps you will be at home by the time this arrives: your father’s home that is. […] It would be nice if you knew of a house for us, not very big, three bedrooms or thereabouts.” The letter ends with a rather funny and straightforward note, reading:

[…] listening to old Ladies talk German. My God, what is it that keeps these old ladies trotting and talking for a hundred years? So many people die: but these have the gift of eternal life. And why? Why, oh why! There should be a law against widows. (L, v. 74-75)

4Among the correspondence Owen had access to, he found a letter, dated 3 November, in which Rina confirms the above to her husband:

I received a letter from Lawrence – from Baden – an amusing letter. They [Lawrence and Frieda] are arriving here on the 15th or the 16th and I have fixed rooms for them here in Spot. My father has told me about what sounds to be a very ideal apartment for them in a villa on the hill above Spotorno. We shall probably go to see it this afternoon. […] (Lady Chatterley’s Villa 73; henceforth LCV)

5In fact, Lawrence and Frieda arrived at Spotorno on Sunday 15 November. Here is what an enthusiastic Rina wrote to Martin, stressing that it was only by chance she went to pick them up at the station:

Today has been very exciting. After lunch we set out – my parents, Adrian, the pram and I – for a walk, and when we were some way out of Spot I said to my father, “What time does the train from Genova arrive?” He said “2.30.” I looked at my watch and it was 2.25. I said we had better go to the station in case the Lawrences should be arriving today – telegrams have such a way of not finding their way here until long after the senders have themselves arrived – and so we went and reached the station just as the train arrived (ten minutes late), and lo and behold the first person I see is Lawrence himself hanging out of a window! Great excitement! (LCV 80)

6Apparently, this enthusiasm continued through the whole period the Lawrences stayed in Spotorno, while Rina made herself available to solve any kind of practical matters. To start with, she found Villa Bernarda which belonged to Angelo Ravagli’s wife, Serafina Astengo. This gentleman was a dashing bersaglieri officer, a very respected character in the area, who dealt personally with Lawrence about the terms of the rent. We learn about that from Rina’s Diary, whose entry for Wednesday 18 November reads: “Tenente Ravagli called about Villa Bernarda – left A. [her son Adrian] with Mamma and went with L. [Lawrence] and T. R. to see the Villa.” (LCV 83) One is naturally surprised that Frieda did not go with them, but Rina records that on a “wonderful afternoon of sunshine” a few days later, because both she and Lawrence had a bad cold (which Lawrence refers to in a letter to Secker, of 20 November), they had tea at the Hotel Ligure, while Frieda, coaxed by Lawrence, went to see the flat where their landlord was waiting for her. She too liked it very much, so they moved to the Villa on 28 November. Rina thus expressed everybody’s satisfaction in her Diary:

Very delightful – Ls very pleased – and decide to take it for the winter. We have at last found an ideal place – a semi rustic little house in the shadow of Spot castle with vineyards and olive groves all around it and the most marvellous view. The Ls are very pleased with it, and they are paying £25 for the whole time they will be here. (LCV 83)

7Before proceeding, for the purpose of this paper, and because it adds a further stressing and destabilising “ingredient,” it is worth saying that the meeting between Frieda and Ravagli is recalled by the officer himself, in Alberto Bevilacqua’s novel, Attraverso il tuo corpo (Through Your Body, 2002; henceforth ATC):

8I remember when I waited for her [Frieda] here [at the Villa] the first time. She let me know that she intended to see the villa before deciding whether she would rent it. […] That afternoon, Frieda walked through Spotorno to reach Villa Bernarda, feeling more or less as uneasy as Angelo. […] She thought about the times when she went out, after giving Lawrence a kiss, and was torn between a lie and a regret: when she went to betray him insecrecy[ …] This time it was different. The probable renting of the villa was not so important. Frieda was going to an appointment with a man, urged by Lawrence himself […] I accompanied her on a careful tour round the villa. She walked ahead of me, with well-calculated movements of her body, while I was trying to understand whether she was just giving herself airs or trying to provoke me. […] While she was moving about, pretending again she was checking every corner, I said:

“What’s wrong with this room, Mrs Lawrence? Doesn’t it meet your taste?”
“It is perfect, lieutenant!...The panorama is perfect. A table perfect to writeon. A perfect bed, so it seems, to make love in.” […]
(ATC, 94-95, 97-98. My translation henceforth)

9Since I know from past experience that there are some eminent Lawrencians who think this episode was made up by Bevilacqua, may I simply say that it is beside the point while what matters is that everybody agrees that Frieda and Angelino began to flirt at that period. Yet what makes their affair even more intriguing is that, however fortuitous it might have been, a bersagliere did indeed come across the Lawrences’ way in the person of lieutenant Angelo Ravagli. In fact we do know Frieda had remained impressed after seeing a group of bersaglieri parading at their peculiar fast pace in Gargnano in 1912, which is testified to by the often quoted letter to Garnett where she writes: “I lie with joy out of the window [Lawrence interjects: She means on the window-sill], that looks on the road and watch the Italians. They are beautiful creatures. The men so loose and soldiers with such hats, a foam [Lawrence interjects: (Good god!)] of cockfeathers on them, I long for one, a hat not a soldier.” (L,i. 476)

10So, after thirteen years, on 8 December 1925, an excited Frieda wrote to Dorothy Brett: “We have a nice little Bersaglieri officer to whom the villa belongs I am thrilled by his cockfeathers he is almost as nice as the feathers!” (L,v. 350). Finally, the person, who represented Lawrence’s “ideal man” in blood and flesh, blending virility with an instinctive sensitivity, appeared, with his irresistible seductive power over women. Of course Rina could not even imagine that, by convincing the Lawrences to join her, she would get Frieda and Angelo Ravagli to meet, become lovers, and eventually get married. However, she provided Villa Bernarda, the setting for certain events that led Lawrence to write his most controversial novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928). It goes without saying that if we assume the affair between Frieda and Ravagli started at the Villa, as maintained by the latter in Bevilacqua’s novel, that could only make an already fiery situation even more combustible.

Villa Bernarda in Lawrence’s time.

11As the days passed, a northern barbarian “warlike horde” descended on the peaceful Spotorno colony, as Lawrence called it, creating tensions which would in no time explode and involve Rina herself. The initial catalysing event was the arrival of Frieda’s daughter Barbara at Alassio in December. On her arrival in that charming tourist resort, 25 kilometres from Spotorno, a very popular place with the English, she lodged at a “pensione” because her father – “for reasons of family decorum” – forbade her to stay with her mother and Lawrence. Despite that she paid frequent visits to the Lawrences, but her strong spirit of independence prevailed and she moved to the Villa, although she was aware Lawrence did not like either her or her sister Elsa. He confessed that to Dorothy Brett in a letter, written on 4 November 1925: “Privately, I can’t stand Frieda’s children. They have a sort of suburban bounce and suffisance which puts me off. When they appear I shall disappear.” (L,v. 332-3) Then he gradually changed his mind about Barby, as Barbara was called by friends and family. We can read in her memoir of D.H. Lawrence (henceforth M), which she wrote for Edward Nehls, that she and Lawrence had long walks together during which he used to advise her on her painting. This is confirmed in a postcard reading: “Went for a long walk today with L and B,”which Rina sent Martin on 27 January 1926. (LCV 106) But the truth is that ever since she had moved into the Villa Bernarda, life was far from calm, as Barbara’s own account shows:

The next morning I was awakened by loud bumping noises overhead. I was half prepared for this, as I had heard the Lawrences threw saucepans or plates at each other. I hurried upstairs to intervene.
Frieda, her neck scratched, was in tears. “He had been horrid,” she said with a glare at the glum, pale man sitting on the edge of his bed. She had told him that, now I was with her at last, he was to keep out of our relationship and not interfere. This had infuriated Lawrence. I was exhilarated, rather than shocked.
It soon blew over, but a few days later the sparks flew again when Lawrence, after inveighing bitterly against Frieda, flung his wine in her face. This time I joined in, shouting, “She’s too good for you; it’s casting pearls before swine!” (M 21)

12Barbara reported that such devastating quarrels were normal between her mother and Lawrence, but she added that also the relationship with her was deteriorating. She resented very much that he spread despicable rumours about the two of them, saying things like “Frieda’s daughter tried to flirt with me.” (Nehls 22) It seems though that was just the beginning of worse things to come, as confirmed by Rina in one of her reports (a postcard dated 11 Feb. 1926) to her husband: “Bad weather here – DHL laid up with ‘flu – Frieda depressed.” (LCV 114) And, even more explicitly, she added that one day:

While Frieda was upstairs preparing the tea I had a few details of domestic life at the Bernarda given to me by Barby. It appears that DH alternates between great love and great hate for Frieda – mostly hate. It also seems that they really do throw things at each other!” (ibid., 107)
Though the situation was bad enough, it worsened with the arrival of Lawrence’s sister Ada and her friend Lizzie Booth, coinciding with the arrival of Elsy, Frieda’s younger daughter. A desperate, yet always witty Lawrence, wrote about that to Martin Secker:
But on the 9th arrives my sister, with a friend which will make an interlude, while Barby and Elsa Weekley are, apparently, going into the Ligure: with a friend, a Mrs Seaman. Vive les femmes! e la stagione inglese! A bit of friction down at the Villa Maria but probably its only the weather. Rain again today. (L,v. 388-9)

13In turn, Rina reported to Martin that Frieda was “becoming very agitated about the arrival of her many guests,” and that, since the Villa was in a terrible state, she offered to help her “scrubbing up”:

I am longing to show her how to really clean up that place and make it tidy. I was in her bedroom the other day with her, and there were dried orange and tangerine peels everywhere – but old ones, you know, quite black with age – and cigarette ends all over the furniture – not on trays but just anyhow – and the chaos! […] heaps of all sorts of heterogeneous substances and things on the beds, on the chairs, on the window-sills, on the night-table – everywhere! I am longing to have a go at it all. (LCV 112)

14Meanwhile, Lawrence was too ill to have a say on anything, for “he was laid up with ‘flu’ – Frieda depressed,” Rina writes on 14 February, adding that the flu turned to “bronchitis and haemorrhages, which depress him.” (LCV 114) It seems to me that Lawrence’s illness was a reflection of the run-down state of the flat which drew Rina to help as best as she could. On 24 February, almost as a war correspondent, she reported to her husband on one more battle she had been an eyewitness to, saying that it led to the temporary conquest of Villa Bernarda by Ada:

15Frieda, the evening before had had the most frightful scene with Mrs Clarke [DHL’s sister] and had accused her of wishing to alienate DH from her – and had in fact thoroughly frightened everyone by the violence of her language, and had then gone off and declared she would go to the [Hotel] Ligure with her daughters and stay there as long as DH’s sister and friend stayed at the Villa B.

16Rina could not help taking sides and she sympathised with Ada, with whom she surely shared a sense of tidiness and family duty:

17Poor Mrs Clarke is now doing all the cooking and the cleaning and the nursing of DH! – assisted of course by her friend Mrs Booth (I must say the Villa B looks a different place already). She says DH wants looking after and feeding carefully, and she swears she won’t leave him alone with Frieda again. I think she is a very nice, capable, straight forward, sensible woman who very much knows what she is about. Her friend, Mrs Booth, also I think very nice but of rather a more shy disposition than Mrs Clarke. And so there they are, in possession of the Villa B! (LCV 114)

18Quite understandably, Barby, another eyewitness to that war, took a sympathetic attitude in her memoir, and simply said that her mother was really angry at Ada because she believed she was being “bossy” (26) even going so far as to drive her out of her kitchen, where she thought “she managed so well.” (26) In that context, Rina found herself in an embarrassing situation, being, as she was, involuntarily involved and unable to take sides openly. She writes:

I am placed in a very awkward situation, for when I go to the Villa B I get long outpourings from the three of them as to their woes and difficulties – and when I come into Spot I meet Frieda and then I get her version of the talk – and of course it is a direct contradiction of the other. I now just stand and listen to them and try to look sympathetic – but my head swims and my mind is a blank. They are all such combustible people! They go off like so many rockets all around me and one rocket has no sooner gone off than they are already setting a match to another and another and another. Good heavens, but the Villa B really will go off one of these days with the noise of a hundred bombs. (LCV 116)

On 16th February, a desperate Lawrence unburdened himself in a letter to Dorothy Brett. He used a shipwreck image to describe the consequences of that climactic situation: “My sister’s coming was occasion for another rumpus: F[rieda] abandoned the ship, and stays down in the little hotel with her two daughters, pro tem. (Lv. 392)

19Rina, as usual, kept Martin posted about the “front line” situation at the Villa. To which he commented:

Life at the Villa Bernarda sounds hectic. I can almost see its walls palpitating from the pent up storms of emotion. […] Pazzi inglesi, davvero! [Mad English indeed!] I cannot imagine how the situation is going to resolve itself. At least it adds an excitement to life! (LCV 111)

20Elsy too soon realised you could cut the air with a knife at the Villa, she said it was “spiteful.” Barby wrote in her memoir that Lawrence, in one of his changing moods towards her, said that she was always driven by a deep sense of revenge against someone or other. And, one day, it seems that he even spoke out:

I wouldn’t marry you, Barby, if you had a million pounds. If the Archangel Gabriel came down from Heaven and asked you to marry him, you’d find fault. (M 26)

21The situation had become absolutely unbearable, a weary and helpless Lawrence confessed to William Hawk:

I am going away with my sister on Monday, to Monte Carlo for a few days: then probably on to Spain, alone. Frieda has her two daughters here, great tall girls, 21 and 23 years old. I feel absolutely swamped out, must go away by myself for a bit, or I shall give up the ghost. I expect Frieda will stay here till the end of March: then I don’t know where.

The almond blossom is out in clouds, here, and it’s warm. That’s one blessing. But somehow everything feels in great muddle, with daughters that are by no means mine, and sister who doesn’t see eye to eye with F.(L,v. 394).

22This excruciating state of affairs went on until Lawrence withdrew with his “troops” to Monte Carlo on 20 February, abandoning the stronghold of Villa Bernarda in the hands of Frieda and her daughters. Four days later Rina reported:

The Villa Bernarda is in possession of a feminine colony now. DH left, with his sister and her friend, last Monday for Monte Carlo. I heard from him this morning. He will then go on to Spain when the other two leave for England. He says he may come back to Spot when “those girls” have left. In the meantime, a very subdued Frieda rules over the Villa B with Elsa, Barbara and a Miss Hermes, an art student friend of Barbara’s. They have their lunch at the Ligure. I think Frieda is very sorry that DH has gone away without her. (LCV 117)

23No wonder if Frieda, in Not I, But the Wind, using a military metaphor, put all the blame on Ada saying, “there are two hostile camps.” Actually, she said to Rina that one day she told Ada “bitter words” and said “I hate you from the bottom of my heart.”(NIBW 167-9) Lawrence took courage, continued his trip without Frieda and went to visit his friends, the Brewsters in Capri, where he arrived on 27 February 1926. Then he went to Ravello from 10-22 April; the decision to do so was taken with Dorothy Brett. But this is best reported by Lucas:

As things now were, he [Lawrence] considered a temporary separation from Frieda and her two daughters would be the most effective way of restoring his own peace of mind. Brett was absolutely delighted to see him: she could imagine no greater joy than to have the man she idolised to herself for a few precious weeks. […] They went to Ravello, where they ostentatiously occupied separate rooms. […]
Meanwhile in the Villa Bernarda harmony prevailed… Ravagli came to flirt with both mother and daughters. […] When Lawrence sent news of his imminent return, she was afraid that the precious, hard-earned idyll would now come to an end. (Frieda Lawrence. A Biography, henceforth FLB, 221-222)

24As we know from Dorothy’s own words, things did not work between her and Lawrence: “He got up, finally, stalked out of the room, and turned on me saying: “Your boobs are all wrong.” This left me ashamed, bewildered, miserable.  After hours of self-torment, misery, and agony, I slept” (FLB Epilogue, p. v) It was a complete failure, it would have been better if they had never met again. So, what Lawrence perhaps hoped would solve his problem with women precipitated him into a deeper abyss. After all, he should have known better, if for no other reason than that he had written to Dorothy on 11 April 1925 what was a very harsh letter, telling her straight that Frieda disliked her, adding furthermore that he was not in the least attracted to her as a woman:

I don’t believe Frieda would ever feel friendly towards you, again – ever. And that means friction and nothing else.
You are, you know, a born separator. Even without knowing that you do it, you set people against one another. If you are friendly with one, you make that one unfriendly to the others: no matter who it is. It’s just a natural process with you. But it usually turns everybody into an enemy, at last. – It’s no use talking about friendship. […]
It’s no good our trying to get together – it won’t happen. Myself, I have lost all desire for intense or intimate friendship. Acquaintance is enough. It will be best when we go our separate ways. (L,v. 234)

25By contrast, according to Lucas, among others, it seems that at the same time a delirious sexual relationship was ablaze between Frieda and her Angelino at Villa Bernarda. This is confirmed by Ravagli himself, in Bevilacqua’s novel: “when Lawrence, in March [April], was away from Spotorno, I was completely free. You can imagine, what a feast, but it lasted only one week.” (ATC 93) Yet the timing of the affair between Frieda and Ravagli is an over-discussed issue. According to John Worthen, the affair began only after the Lawrences moved to Villa Mirenda at Scandicci, near Florence on 6 May 1926. But, there again, we can say that the groundwork for Lady Chatterley’s Lover took place at Villa Bernarda in the tempestuous, and sometimes violent, marital scenes, which fired Lawrence’s imagination and creativity, resulting in a very fruitful period of writing. It was in the Villa that he wrote The Virgin and the Gypsy, a transitional work anticipating Lady Chatterley’s Lover, in which Yvette (based on Barby) has sex with a gypsy, a man far from her social position. Like the later novel therefore, the novella concerns the emotional and sexual awakening of a young woman by an earthy elemental kind of man.

26But it is the conception of “Sun” that brings into play Rina’s role as Lawrence’s “discrete muse” of the period spent at Villa Bernarda, which prefigures Lady Chatterley’s Lover, together with the Virgin and the Gypsy. Juliet, the story’s protagonist, suffers a nervous breakdown, rather like Rina, who frequently described herself using the term “neurasthenia,”,which was certainly due to dissatisfaction with her married life. As Lawrence reported to Martin Secker:

Rina usually comes with Adrian in the afternoon. She is much better now, was very nervosa at first, and a bit trying, no doubt, to her parents[….] When Rina can leave the boy for a few hours with her mother, and get a good walk in the hills with us all, she’ll be perfectly all right. (L,v. 394)

27In March 1930, Rina wrote to Martin: “Of course I am looking forward to your seeing Adrian, but otherwise I am really rather sad!” (LCV 151). It is evident that Lawrence perceived her unhappiness, so that we can easily conclude that Rina provided the inspiration for Juliet, a young and charming American mother, who was very moody and anxious. Martin Secker lived most of the time in London, while Rina was on her own with their child in Spotorno. This brought about a growing sense of estrangement from her husband, and, according to local rumours, she had a series of affairs – an obvious similarity with Connie Chatterley. I would also like to draw attention to the fact that in “Sun,” Juliet’s son is called the “boy,” as Lawrence used to call Rina’s son in his letters to Martin; it is not until his father unexpectedly arrives from New York that he is called by his name, Johnny. So it seems that the child too was inspired by Rina’s son, Adrian, while Juliet’s husband, Maurice, a typical city man, is undoubtedly based on Martin Secker himself. As for the setting, you have New York / London vs Taormina / Spotorno, two metropolis and two idyllic seaside resorts on the Mediterranean. Moreover, it is worth stressing that it is somewhat odd that while Rina talks about other stories, she never refers to “Sun” in her letters. Was that because she was aware that Lawrence had her in mind in writing the story?

28As to her being the source for the creation of Lady C., Robert Owen in his Villa Bernarda describes Rina as “vibrant, observant, mischievous, flirtatious and coquettishly aware of her charms,” adding that “this is strikingly similar to Lawrence’s description of the ‘feminine’ and ‘womanly’ Connie Chatterley, with the ‘growing restlessness’ and sense of ‘disconnection’ which drives her into the arms of Mellors” (LCV 63-4). Thus, according to what her son Adrian recalls, I think it is not incidental that Rina, on imitating Frieda’s German rolling rs at a London literary party where they were discussing Lady Chatterley’s Lover, said to her: “Rrrrina, my dear, you must read it, she is you, you will see’ (LCV 61). After all, to quote Worthen again: “It had long been Lawrence’s practice to take what he chose of real-life people and recreate them in forms he wanted”  (LO 214). And, it is also equally telling that Frieda suggested to the Swiss film producer J. E. Siebenhaar, when she sold the film rights of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the 1930s, that either Rina or Barby could play Lady Chatterley. Actually, she even wrote to Rina an encouraging letter reading: “You go and try! If you can’t be Lady C you might have another part to begin with” (LCV 62).

29It is no surprise that Frieda and Lawrence missed her company so much when they moved to Tuscany. They customarily remembered her together with the “boy” (Adrian), and invited her to Scandicci and everywhere else they travelled to afterwards. But this was to no avail, almost as if she were afraid of having become too intimate with them. There is a thought for Rina even in the last letter Lawrence sent to Martin Secker on 28 December 1929:

I’m glad Rina is in Alassio  she will probably enjoy it, and you will have a bit of peace. I felt very chilly when I heard of Bridgefoot with no servant at all. Dio mio! How awful is a dissatisfied woman! (L, vii. 611)

30That is indeed a true picture of Rina, a very reserved person who, unlike many other people who had their correspondence with Lawrence published, kept her letters for herself as an intimate secret. It was only thanks to the decision taken by Rina’s daughter–in-law Anthea Secker that all the material which Rina had gathered was generously made available to Richard Owen for publication. Here I must indeed express my indebtedness to Owen for permission to quote widely from his book in order to piece together the events that marked Lawrence’s most turbulent experience with “his” women, in the months spent at Villa Bernarda, Spotorno. The intriguing thing is that Rina Secker’s correspondence reveals certain background facts she was witness to, facts which confirm some of the events described by Bevilacqua as recounted to him by Frieda’s third husband, Angelo Ravagli (see my essay Everything You Wanted to Know About the Background to “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” 2010). With reference to that, perhaps it is worth saying that I had a long conversation with Owen, who shares an interest in the above-mentioned events and who, like me, had the great opportunity to interview Bevilacqua. But he went a step further, because he had the unique possibility to have access to eyewitness accounts of Lawrence and Frieda which had never been published before. Moreover, Rina’s letters provide us with what is a definitive revelation regarding the hitherto “obscure” relationship she had with Lawrence. Of course, we already knew that Juliet was based on Rina (cf Worthen 335), but it is news to learn that she was also the “muse” for Lady C.

31Most importantly, according to what has emerged from Rina’s letters, I believe that if Frieda and Lawrence had met more people as genuinely friendly, warm-hearted, and generous as she was, Lawrence in particular, who surely respected and liked her a lot, would not have had as many bitter experiences as he had. In this respect, I hope this article constitutes an overall addition to our knowledge of Lawrence’s intimate life and emotions.

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Bevilacqua, Alberto. Attraverso il tuo corpo. Milano: Mondadori, 2002.

Ceramella, Nick. “Everything You Wanted to Know About the Background to Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Never Dared Even Dream as Possible” in Rivista di Letterature modern e comparate, Volume LXIII, 2010.

Lawrence, D. H., The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Volume I, ed. James T. Boulton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Lawrence, D. H., The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Volume V, eds James T. Boulton and Lindeth Vasey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Lawrence, D. H., The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Volume VII, eds Keith Sagar & T. Boulton, James Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Lawrence, Frieda Not I but the Wind, the autobiography of Frieda Lawrence, Santa Fe: Rydal Press, 1934.

Nehls, Edward D. H. Lawrence: A Composite Biography, ed. Edward Nehls, vol. 3.

Lucas, Robert, Frieda Lawrence. A Biography. London: Secker & Warburg, 1973.

Owen, Richard, Lady Chatterley’s Villa. London: Armchair Traveller and the Book Haus, 2014.

Worthen, John, D. H. Lawrence. The Life of an Outsider. London: Penguin Books, 2005.

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List of illustrations

Caption Rina Secker and Lawrence at Villa Bernarda, Spotorno, 1926.
File image/png, 137k
Caption Villa Bernarda in Lawrence’s time.
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Electronic reference

Nick Ceramella, « “Vive les femmes! e la stagione inglese!” Rina Secker, Lawrence’s Discrete Muse  »Études Lawrenciennes [Online], 49 | 2019, Online since 03 April 2019, connection on 23 November 2020. URL: ; DOI :

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About the author

Nick Ceramella

Nick Ceramella has taught at the Universities of  Rome “La Sapienza” and “Roma Tre”, the University of Naples “l’Orientale”, the University for Foreigners in Perugia, at the University of L’Aquila and the University of Trento. He is the author of  Cambridge English for the Media, 2009  and of numerous articles on various English authors. One of his latest publications on Lawrence is Lake Garda: Gateway to D. H. Lawrence’s Voyage to the Sun (New Castle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), which he edited and for which he wrote the introduction.


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Études lawrenciennes est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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