David Herbert Lawrence
Other NamesD. H. Lawrence
Birth Date1885CE Sep 11th
Birth PlaceEastwood, United Kingdom
Death PlaceVence, France
David Herbert Richards Lawrence – although also a poet, playwright, painter, and essayist – is known primarily as one of England’s foremost modern novelists. He was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire on September 11, 1885, the fourth of five children born to Arthur and Lydia Lawrence. His father was a miner, thus placing the Lawrence family in the working class. At 13, he went to the Nottingham Boys’ School, and after graduation worked as a clerk. He quit this job to spend three years teaching before returning to school to complete a teacher’s certification. Once finished, he returned to his teaching profession, working at a boys’ school in London until 1911.
While a collection of poems appeared in The English Review in 1909 and his novel The White Peacock was published in 1911, it was with a spell of pneumonia in 1911 from which he nearly died that his full-time career as a writer began. He did not return to teaching after his illness, and in 1912 he published The Trespasser. That year, he met Frieda Weekly, who was six years older than him and a mother of three. He married her in 1914, shortly after she divorced her husband. During this pre-war period, Lawrence also published Sons and Lovers (1913), arguably the greatest novel of his early period (Kermode 16). This piece, like The Trespasser,is autobiographical, but it marks a shift between the writer’s early and later period, as with this novel Lawrence “was more conscious of his prophetic role” (Kermode 7).
Lawrence grew up with a strong disdain for industrialized England, and found he preferred to be in nature. He also did not get along with children his age. This contempt for humanity continued into his adult life. At the start of World War One, he wrote in a letter to S. S. Koteliansky that he was “miserable about the war” (Zytaruk 1). Reflecting on his experience being medically examined for conscription, he declared that England was experiencing a spiritual disaster (84). He was ashamed of his country, and this would drive him in later years to leave England permanently.
The war years produced two novels from Lawrence: The Rainbow (1915), and its sequel Women in Love (1920). Both were re-written many times, as was Lawrence’s habit, and both took pieces from The Sisters, an earlier unpublished novel. These novels reflect Lawrence’s sense that the war had killed him, and that after its end he was being resurrected to his prophetic role. They also demonstrate great technical innovation (Leavis 5) that refutes claims by T. S. Eliot that his writings were “extrêmement mal écrits” (Eliot 671).
After recovering from yet another illness, Lawrence left England for Italy in 1919, and while there, he produced some of his best poetry (Draper 14). The post-war period was a productive time for Lawrence. He published The Lost Girl in 1920, and between 1922-24 he published three novels, Aaron’s Rod, Kangaroo, and The Boy in the Bush; as well as two short story collections, England, My England and The Captain’s Doll; two poetry collections; and various works of non-fiction (see bibliography). He and Koteliansky, who was a close friend of the Woolfs, also translated The Gentleman from San Francisco, a short story by I. A. Bunin. It was published in a collection of Bunin’s stories by the Hogarth Press in 1922. During this time he traveled to Australia, America, and Mexico, and also journeyed all over Europe.
Lawrence spent much of his time after the war traveling, and after 1926 he left England permanently. He landed in no one location, but rather spent his days wandering across Germany, Frieda’s homeland, Italy, and New Mexico. While in New Mexico he completed The Plumed Serpent in 1925 and shortly after became seriously ill. After his recovery he and his wife traveled Europe again, returning home for several weeks, and then left for Italy, where Lawrence spent the last four years of his life.
The years in Italy were also very prolific years for Lawrence. He published the famous Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1928, which was banned in England until 1960 for its obscenity. In addition, he wrote the short story collections The Woman Who Rode Away and Other Stories (1928), and Rawdon’s Roof (1928), the poetry collections Collected Poems (1928) and Pansies (1928), his final novel, The Escaped Cock (1929).
D. H. Lawrence, who was plagued by lung problems his entire life, died of tuberculosis on March 2, 1930 in Vence, France. His remembrance has been fairly divided. Virginia Woolf viewed him negatively for his allegedly mediocre writing skills; Arnold Bennett “appreciated Lawrence’s intentions” (Draper 162); E. M. Forster heralded him as a prophet akin to Dostoevsky or Emily Bronte. His critical reception has certainly improved since his death, but developing a positive readerly reception was never his goal. Lawrence rather lived and died a polemic: a man whose desire was not to please but to critique.
Selected Further Reading
Leavis, F.R. D. H. Lawrence: Novelist. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1955. 393 pg.
Zytaruk, George J. The Quest for Rananim: D. H. Lawrence’s Letters to S. S. Koteliansky 1914-1930. London: Queen’s University Press, 1970. 433 pg.
Draper, Ronald P. D. H. Lawrence. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1964. 194 pg.
Kermode, Frank. Lawrence. Suffolk: Fontana/Collins, 1973.
Eliot, T. S. “Le Roman Anglais Contemporain”. La Nouvelle Revue Française 28 (May 1927): 671.
D. H. Lawrence Biographies
Aldington, Richard. D. H. Lawrence. London: Chatto and Windus, 1930.
Burgess, Anthony. Flaming into Being: The Life and Art of D. H. Lawrence. London: Heinemann, 1985.
Bynner, Witter. Journey with a Genius: Recollections and Reflections Concerning the D. H. Lawrences. New York: John, Day, 1951.
Chambers, Jessie. D. H. Lawrence: A Personal Record. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980.
Dervin, Daniel. A “Strange Sapience”: The Creative Imagination of D. H. Lawrence. Amherst: University of Massachussets Press, 1984.
Ellis, David. D. H. Lawrence: The Dying Game, 1922-1930. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Hardy, George. A D. H. Lawrence Album. Ashbourne: Moorland, 1985.
Kinkead-Weekes, Mark. D. H. Lawrence: Triumph to Exile, 1912-1922. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996
Lawrence, Ada; and Gelder, G. Stuart. Young Lorenzo: Early Life of D. H. Lawrence. Florence: G. Orioli, 1931.
Lawrence, Frieda. Not I, But the Wind. New York: Viking Press, 1934.
Moore, Harry T. D. H. Lawrence: His Life and Works. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1964.
---------. The Intelligent Heart: The Story of D. H. Lawrence. New York: Grove Press, 1954.
---------. The Priest of Love: A Life of D. H. Lawrence. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Nehls, Edward. D. H. Lawrence: A composite Biography. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1957.
Neville, G. H. A Memoir of D. H. Lawrence (The Betrayal). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
Page, Norman. D. H. Lawrence: Interviews and Recollections. London: Macmillan, 1981.
Sagar, Keith M. D. H. Lawrence: Life into Art. Middlesex: Viking, 1985.
--------. The Life of D. H. Lawrence: An Illustrated Biography. London: Eyre Methuen, 1980.
Schneider, Daniel. The Consciousness of D. H. Lawrence: An Intellectual Biography. Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1986.
Squires, Michael. Living at the Edge: A Biography of D. H. Lawrence and Frieda von Richthofen. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.
Worthen, John. D. H. Lawrence: The Early Years 1885-1912. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
---------. D. H. Lawrence: A Literary Life. London: Macmillan, 1989.
Moore, Harry T. The Achievement of D. H. Lawrence. University of Oklahoma Press, 1953.
---------. A D. H. Lawrence Miscellany. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1959.
Hough, Graham. The Dark Sun: A Study of D. H. Lawrence. London: Duckworth, 1956.
D. H. Lawrence: The Critical Heritage. Ed. Draper, R. P. New York: Routledge Press, 1997.
Clarke, Colin. River of Dissolution. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1969.
Daleski, H. M. The Forked Flame. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965.
Ford, George H. The Double Measure. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1965.
Kenmare, Dallas. Fire-Bird: A Study of D. H. Lawrence. London: James Barrie, 1951.
The University of Nottingham has an archive of D. H. Lawrence manuscripts dating from 1919-1929. Included in the collection are two versions of Pansies, several essays, and various proofs of short stories. It also holds letters to and from Lawrence and photographs of him.
Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center holds a collection of D. H. Lawrence letters dating from 1916-1929. Most were written while in England but there are also various letters from his time abroad. http://archives.lib.siu.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=2529
The University of California at Berkeley Bancroft Library holds various Lawrence manuscripts, including “novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, travel sketches, introductions to books, translations and book reviews” dating from 1906-1929. http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf9g5007kq/
The University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center collection of Lawrence manuscripts includes drafts of various major novels, including Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Women in Love, Sons and Lovers, and Aaron’s Rod. In addition it holds various letters and records of the trial for Lady Chatterly’s Lover. http://norman.hrc.utexas.edu/fasearch/findingAid.cfm?eadid=00071
Works by D. H. Lawrence
**Study of Thomas Hardy
The White Peacock. London: Heinemann, 1911.
The Trespasser. London: Duckworth & Co, 1912.
Sons and Lovers. London: Duckworth & Co, 1913.
The Rainbow. London: Methuen & Co Ltd., 1915.
Women in Love. New York: Privately Printed, 1920.
The Lost Girl. London: Martin Secker, 1920.
Aaron’s Rod. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1922.
Kangaroo. London: Martin Secker, 1923.
The Boy in the Bush. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1924.
The Plumed Serpent. New York: Knopf, 1926.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Florence: Privately Printed, 1928.
The Escaped Cock. Paris: The Black Sun Press, 1929.
Short Story Collections
The Prussian Officer and Other Stories. London: Duckworth & Co, 1914.
England, My England and Other Stories. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1922.
The Captain’s Doll. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1923.
St. Mawr Together with The Princess. London: Martin Secker, 1925.
The Woman who Rode Away, and Other Stories. London: Martin Secker, 1928
Love Among the Haystacks. London: Nonesuch Press, 1930.
The Virgin and the Gipsy. Florence: G. Orioli, 1930.
The Lovely Lady. London: Martin Secker, 1933.
Love Poems and Others. London: Duckworth & Co, 1913.
Amores: Poems. London: Duckworth & Co, 1916.
Look! We Have Come Through! London: Chatto & Windus, 1917.
New Poems. London: Martin Secker, 1918.
Bay: A Book of Poems. Westminster: Beaumont Press, 1919.
Tortises. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1921.
Birds, Beasts, and Flowers. London: Martin Secker, 1923.
The Collected Poems of D. H. Lawrence. London: Martin Secker, 1928.
Pansies. London: Martin Secker, 1929.
Nettles. London: Faber & Faber Ltd., 1930.
Last Poems. Florence: G. Orioli, 1932.
Fire and Other Poems. San Francisco: Grabhorn Press, 1940.
The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd. New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1914
Touch and Go: A Play in Three Acts. London: C. W. Daniel, 1920.
David: A Play. London: Martin Secker, 1926.
A Collier's Friday Night. London: Martin Secker, 1934.
Movements in European History. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1921.
Fantasia of the Unconscious. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1922. Later published as Psychoanalysis of the Unconscious. London: Martin Secker, 1923.
Studies in Classic American Literature. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1923.
Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine, and Other Essays. Philadelphia: Centaur Press, 1925.
Apocalypse. Florence: Pino Orioli, 1931.
The Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays. Ed. Steele, Bruce. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Twilight in Italy. London: Duckworth, 1916.
Sea and Sardinia. London: Martin Secker, 1923.
Mornings in Mexico. London: Martin Secker, 1927.
Sketches of Etruscan Places and Other Italian Essays. London: Martin Secker, 1932.
Shestov, Lev Isaakovich. All Things Are Possible. London: Martin Secker, 1920.
Bunin, I. A. The Gentleman from San Fransisco. Trans. Lawrence, D. H.; and Koteliansky, S. S. London: The Hogarth Press, 1922.
Verga, Giovanni. Mastro-Don Gesualdo. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1923.
--------. Little Novels of Sicily. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1925.
--------. Cavalleria Rusticana and Other Stories. London: Cape, 1928.
Grazzini, Antonio Francesco. The Story of Doctor Manette. Florence: G. Orioli, 1929.
The Paintings of D. H. Lawrence. London: The Mandrake Press, 1929
The Letters of D. H. Lawrence. Ed. Huxley, Aldous. London: William Heinemann, 1932.