Sharon Oard Warner

Sharon Oard Warner

Dr. Virginia Hyde: an Appreciation

27 Jan­u­ary 2019

In Jan­u­ary of 2004, the D. H. Lawrence Ranch was added to the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places (NRHP) at the Nation­al lev­el, which means the prop­er­ty is eli­gi­ble for Nation­al Land­mark Status.

This sin­gu­lar achieve­ment was made pos­si­ble by two scholars–Tina Fer­ris and Dr. Vir­ginia Hyde. On Jan­u­ary 2, 2019, we lost Dr. Hyde.

As many in the D. H. Lawrence lit­er­ary com­mu­ni­ty mourn her pass­ing, I am tak­ing this oppor­tu­ni­ty to do some­thing long overdue—to rec­og­nize her impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the his­to­ry of the property.

The appli­ca­tion process for the NHRP is ardu­ous and time-con­sum­ing. The pro­pos­al took more than five years to com­plete and was com­pli­cat­ed by the prox­im­i­ty of the two authors to the site. Nei­ther lived any­where near the D. H. Lawrence Ranch. Nei­ther served as fac­ul­ty at the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Mex­i­co. Dr. Vir­ginia Hyde worked from her office at Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty and Tina Fer­ris con­tributed from her home in the greater Los Ange­les area. They worked not for recog­ni­tion or rec­om­pense but sim­ply to serve the greater good. And, so they have.

(BTW: I don’t believe Geor­gia O’Keeffe was fright­ened every moment. That’s the sort of hyper­bole that the Mis­fit indulged in at the end of Flan­nery O’Connor’s sto­ry, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Do you remem­ber the con­clud­ing line of the sto­ry? The mis­fit has just shot the grand­moth­er, and he speaks this line over her body:

The project began in 1998, in the ear­ly years of e‑mail. In fact, one of the old­est mes­sages on my UNM e‑mail account is from Dr. Hyde. I looked it up ear­li­er today and note that it was post­ed at 9:48 p.m. on a Sun­day evening in July of 2000. Vir­ginia wasn’t tak­ing the sum­mer off, the week­end off, or even the evening off.  Instead, she was writ­ing to enlist my help in com­plet­ing the mea­sure­ments for some of the his­toric build­ings as well as the dis­tances between them. This infor­ma­tion was nec­es­sary for Sec­tion 7 of the nar­ra­tive. (The pro­pos­al makes for fas­ci­nat­ing read­ing and is avail­able at the web­site for the D. H. Lawrence Soci­ety of North America.)

Vir­ginia had been patient with me. This wasn’t her first mes­sage. I was over­due in send­ing her the nec­es­sary mea­sure­ments. But in com­plet­ing the task, I had met with all man­ner of obsta­cles. The care­tak­er for the Ranch, Mr. Al Bearce, was entire­ly opposed to the project. More than once, he threat­ened to call the High­way Patrol and have me boot­ed off the prop­er­ty. But he wasn’t the only problem.

house mouse

Vir­ginia ref­er­ences anoth­er issue in her mes­sage: “We do very well under­stand some of the fac­tors that make this work dif­fi­cult, such as the mice that would cer­tain­ly give me pause just as you say!” 

Gen­tly, she goes on to rec­om­mend a mea­sur­ing tape that will speed up the job: “Sears sells a 100-ft.-reel tape for $16.00, and no doubt there are cheap­er brands, too. We’d also sug­gest that it might be handy to print out this sheet and to write replies on the back.” I did as she asked and am proud to have made a tiny con­tri­bu­tion to this large and last­ing achieve­ment. And, I am grate­ful that doing so brought me briefly into the life of Dr. Vir­ginia Hyde.

She taught for 34 years in the Eng­lish Depart­ment of Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty. She authored The Risen Adam: D. H. Lawrence’s Revi­sion­ist Typol­o­gy (Penn State UP) and edit­ed the Cam­bridge crit­i­cal edi­tion of Lawrence’s Morn­ings in Mex­i­co and Oth­er Essays (Cam­bridge UP, 2009). In total, she authored or edit­ed six books, guest-edit­ed lit­er­ary jour­nals, and pub­lished dozens of essays in jour­nals and books, includ­ing the MLA “Teach­ing Authors” series.

She will be missed by many.  But, at the D. H. Lawrence Ranch, the lofti­est of the pines and the slight­est of the mice whis­per their grat­i­tude and wel­come her spirit. 

Dr. Virginia Hyde
Dr. Vir­ginia Hyde
Phoenix DH Lawrence Memorial
The phoenix atop the D.H. Lawrence memorial
Milking the cow
At the D.H. Lawrence Ranch out­side Taos, New Mex­i­co, Lawrence milk­ing Susan, the cow
Visiting school children at the Homesteader's Cabin
Vis­it­ing school chil­dren at the Home­stead­er’s Cabin
D.H. Lawrence Tree
The author and res­i­dent cat under the Lawrence Tree

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