23. Mai 2023 19:00
From the mid-nineteenth century up to the Second World War, the French Mediterranean coast was perceived as a health-restoring refuge for sufferers of tuberculosis, with its mild climate and proximity to the sea. In addition, for writers and artists in particular, the beauty of the Mediterranean landscape frequently provided creative inspiration.
Katherine Mansfield, D.H. Lawrence and Aldous Huxley were three writers all of whom had, intermittently, shared a close friendship. All three would travel to the south of France, in Bandol staying at the same hotel – the Beau Rivage – at different times, and for different reasons. Mansfield’s first visit to Bandol was in October 1915, before the diagnosis of the tuberculosis that would eventually kill her aged just 34. She had simply needed to escape London and England where memories of her brother, recently killed in the Great War, were too overwhelming. Her subsequent visit in 1918 saw a much altered inhospitable town, now ravaged by war.
Five years after Mansfield’s death, Lawrence and his wife Frieda travelled to the south of France in the autumn of 1928, eventually moving to the Hotel Beau Rivage in Bandol the following winter and subsequently renting the Villa Beau Soleil in the little town. Aldous and Maria Huxley, close friends of the Lawrences, initially made their way to Bandol to see the ailing Lawrence, staying at the Hotel Beau Rivage after his death in 1930, before taking up residence in the Villa Huley, in Sanary-sur-Mer, a short drive away along the coast where they would remain for several years. “Here all is exquisitely lovely,” Huxley would write to his sister-in-law: “Sun, roses, fruit, warmth, we bathe and bask“. They soon found themselves at the center of a group of expat writers in residence there, including many notable German authors, fleeing their homeland.
The talk will explore the time spent by all three writers on the Mediterranean coast and assess the influence the area had on their creativity.
Dr. Gerri Kimber is a visiting Professor in the Department of English at the University of Northampton. She is co-editor of Katherine Mansfield Studies, the peer-reviewed annual yearbook of the Kathrine Mansfield Society, she is the author of several books on Katherine Mansfield and currently editing a new 4-volume edition of Katherine Mansfield’s complete letters.
After the talk you are invited to a drink.