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Dorothy Brett (1883–1977)

Author of Lawrence and Brett: A friendship

Includes the names: Brett Dorothy

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The Hon. Dorothy Eugenie Brett was born in London to an aristocratic English family. Her father Reginald Baliol Brett, Lord Esher, was an influential Liberal Party politician. She and her sister attended dancing classes with Queen Victoria's grandchildren at Windsor Castle. The family divided its time between homes near Windsor, in London, and at Callander in Perthshire, Scotlan. In 1910, she enrolled at the Slade School of Art where she studied until 1916 and became known simply as "Brett." Like her friend Dora Carrington, she cut her hair to a short bob. Through her friend and classmate Mark Gertler, she met Lady Ottoline Morrell and began mixing in artistic and literary circles that included the Bloomsbury group. She befriended Bertrand Russell, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Augustus John, Siegfried Sassoon, George Bernard Shaw, and Clive Bell, and painted some of their portraits. Her friend Aldous Huxley portrayed her as Jenny Mullion in Crome Yellow (1921) and Beatrice Gilray in Point Counter Point (1928). In 1924, she agreed to D.H. Lawrence's proposal to move to Taos, New Mexico to help create a utopian community there. She, Lawrence, and his wife Frieda arrived in Taos and initially stayed with Mabel Dodge Luhan; later they moved to a 160-acre parcel of land she gave them, with Brett living in the smaller of two cabins on the property. She spent her time painting, assisting Lawrence by typing his manuscripts, and making repairs and renovations. She met the Lawrences in Capri, Italy, and travelled alone with D.H. to Ravello. The Lawrences left New Mexico in 1925, and Brett remained alone on the ranch before moving to Taos. Her memoir of their relationship, Lawrence and Brett: a Friendship, was published in 1933. She made a living selling her landscapes and Pueblo Indian scenes and portraits. She befriended Millicent Rogers, who set up her first solo show in New York City in 1950 and introduced her to Alfred Stieglitz.
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