Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Combining brilliant descriptive powers with compelling evocations of natural settings and basic human drives, Lawrence expanded the limits by which romantic-erotic situations could be portrayed in fictional settings.
Circumstances and situations from David Herbert Lawrence’s early life are important as background to his literary works. In many instances, biographers and critics have been able to trace the development, seemingly on parallel tracks, of Lawrence’s childhood and youth and the progress of his later fictional creations. The fourth child of Lydia Beardsall and Arthur Lawrence, he was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, a mining village situated in a coal-producing region of Nottinghamshire. Early in life, Lawrence preferred diminutive versions of his middle name, and later he was known from his writing simply by his initials and surname. His father was a common collier, evidently a handsome and well-formed man, who had great difficulty in expressing his thoughts and often seemed completely inarticulate. He was also prone to prolonged periods of drunkenness which sometimes culminated in physical onslaughts against his wife and family members. The mother was a schoolteacher from a modest social background who sought to instill her Congregationalist faith in her offspring. In turn, her children felt a greater attachment to their mother and tended to side with her during...
(The entire section is 3565 words.)
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Lawrence’s battle with what he called “the censor- morons” began in 1915 with his publication of the novel The Rainbow. Amid a storm of accusations of indecency from critics, police seized more than a thousand copies from the publisher and the printer. When the case came to court in London, the prosecuting attorney, representing the police, called the book “a mass of obscenity of thought, idea, and action throughout.” The magistrate, Sir John Dickinson, ordered the novel destroyed. Lawrence was not alone in his belief that the real reason for this attack was that Britain was at war: His book denounced war, and the British government feared that it would hamper recruitment. Philip Morrell raised questions in Parliament as to the legality of the ban. Home Secretary Sir John Simon explained that the action against the novel had been taken under the Obscene Publications Act of 1857.
After Lawrence published Women in Love in 1920, this novel was attacked in John Bull magazine as “a loathsome study of sex depravity leading youth to unspeakable disaster.” The following year saw an unsuccessful attempt in the United States to suppress the novel, led by John W. Sumner, acting for the Society for the Suppression of Vice. Lawrence’s last novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover,...
(The entire section is 461 words.)
Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
David Herbert Lawrence’s life went through four distinct stages. The first may be indicated as the Nottingham or Eastwood years, the formative years before March, 1912. Lawrence’s father, Arthur, was a miner and his mother, a teacher. Married beneath her status, Lydia Beardsall Lawrence detested the commonness of her husband and vowed that her sons would never work the pits. She therefore doggedly saw Lawrence through a teacher-training program at Nottingham University College. The class struggle at home mirrored the larger class struggle, of which Lawrence was acutely aware.
Within the grim industrial village life there remained a lyrical beauty in intimate relations. In Eastwood, Lawrence was romantically involved with two women who represented the contradictory nature of love. Jessie Chambers (Muriel in Sons and Lovers), his mother’s choice, was too spiritual and possessive for Lawrence. He was physically attracted to another, Louie Burrows, but the oedipal bonds were too strong to break. When Lydia Lawrence died in December, 1910, Lawrence drifted aimlessly and over the next few months severed all romantic attachments. Then, in March, 1912, he met Frieda Weekley, the wife of his modern languages professor. They were married in May.
The next period lasted until the end of World War I and his subsequent departure from England. Lawrence published poems that treat his marriage to Frieda as at once physical and spiritual. He was...
(The entire section is 565 words.)
Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
David Herbert Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in the Midlands coal-mining village of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. The noise and grime of the pits dominated Eastwood, but the proximity of fabled Sherwood Forest was a living reminder of what Lawrence would later call “the old England of the forest and agricultural past” on which industrialization had been so rudely imposed. The contrast was to remain an essential element in his makeup. Allied to it was the equally sharp contrast between his parents. Arthur John Lawrence, the father, had worked in the coal pits from the age of seven. Coarse, semiliterate, intensely physical, a hail-fellow popular with his collier mates, he was prone to drink and to near poverty. Lydia Lawrence (née Beardsall), his wife, was a former schoolteacher from a pious middle-class Methodist family, which counted among its forebears a noted composer of Wesleyan hymns. Along with his four siblings, young Lawrence was inevitably caught up in the frequent and sometimes violent strife between his mother and father. Delicate and sickly as a child, he could scarcely have emulated his father—not that he was inclined to do so. Instead, he sided with his mother. She in turn doted on him and encouraged him in his studies as a means of escape from the working-class life, thus further alienating him from his father. Only in later life would Lawrence come to see the dangerous liabilities of this overweening maternal bond and the counterbalancing...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: British, Irish, & Commonwealth Poets)
David Herbert Lawrence was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England, on September 11, 1885. His mother, Lydia Beardsall, had come from a fiercely religious middle-class family reduced in circumstances since the depression of 1837. Lydia, “a superior soul,” as her third son called her, had been a schoolteacher, sensitive and musical, six years younger than her husband, to whom she was distantly related by marriage. His family had also lost money and position, and Arthur Lawrence, the proud possessor of a fine physique and a musical soul, had gone down into the mines as a child to work. Lydia’s disillusion with her marriage, her husband’s alcoholic degeneration, and the continual marital strife that haunted her son’s childhood provided much of the conflict at the heart of Lawrence’s work.
Out of hatred for her husband and a desperate resolve that her children should not sink to his level, Lydia used them as weapons against him. Much later, Lawrence regretted and in part redressed the unfavorable portrait of his father in his autobiographical “colliery novel,” Sons and Lovers, which exhibits his mother’s domination and his own fragile opposition through his love for Jessie Chambers, the “Miriam” whom he loved and left in literature as well as life.
Obedient to his mother’s demands, Lawrence took a teaching position at Croydon, near London, in 1908. He was devastated by the ugly realities of urban life, disgusted...
(The entire section is 675 words.)
Early Life (Dictionary of World Biography: The 20th Century)
Circumstances and situations from David Herbert Lawrence’s early life are important as background to his literary works. In many instances, biographers and critics have been able to trace the development, seemingly on parallel tracks, of Lawrence’s childhood and youth and the progress of his later fictional creations. The fourth child of Lydia Beardsall and Arthur Lawrence, he was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, a mining village situated in a coal-producing region of Nottinghamshire. Early in life, Lawrence preferred diminutive versions of his middle name, and later he was known from his writing simply by his initials and surname. His father was a common collier, evidently a handsome and well-formed man, who had great difficulty in expressing his thoughts and often seemed completely inarticulate. He was also prone to prolonged periods of drunkenness which sometimes culminated in physical onslaughts against his wife and family members. The mother was a schoolteacher from a modest social background who sought to instill her Congregationalist faith in her offspring. In turn, her children felt a greater attachment to their mother and tended to side with her during household disputes. During his early years, Lawrence was considered shy and physically weak. He often took it upon himself to advance his learning by borrowing numerous books from libraries in the area. He was uncannily aware of the stark contrasts that industrial growth had spawned amid the...
(The entire section is 601 words.)
Life’s Work (Dictionary of World Biography: The 20th Century)
Problematical romantic relationships with those from his native region were set aside in a rather dramatic fashion when Lawrence unexpectedly turned to a new love interest: He was attracted beyond measure to Frieda von Richthofen Weekley, the wife of a professor of French at the university in Nottingham. Although she was six years older than he, and already had three children at home, she responded readily to his overtures in situations that suggested amorous intrigue. She left her family behind and traveled abroad with him, primarily in her native Germany and in Italy. It was with some difficulty that the legal travails attendant upon a divorce in England could be resolved. When, finally, in 1914 she became free to marry him, Lawrence had to assume lawyers’ fees as well as the responsibility of sustaining her in their new household. As a wife, Frieda was helpful and supportive at times, but could also be demanding. Much of the time she relegated certain domestic chores as well as their routine bookkeeping to her husband. They quarreled often enough (indeed, once she hit him over the head with a stone plate), but each also had a deep and instinctive empathy for the other’s cares. It has been maintained by some critics that she inspired a fictional counterpart, Ursula Brangwen, one of the major characters in The Rainbow (1915) and Women in Love (1920).
Promising beginnings to Lawrence’s literary career were followed by acute, and in...
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Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The 20th Century)
D. H. Lawrence never had serious ambitions outside literature and art; once he had taken up his calling, he worked diligently and with consistent dedication to his creative efforts. He had great versatility. While his prose works early established his reputation and later were cited both by his admirers and by those who condemned him as indecent, his activity in many genres was noteworthy. Indeed, at various times later scholars have suggested that further understanding of his work may also be approached through the reading of his poetry or his literary criticism. Occasionally, there has been some revival of interest in his drama. His letters, of which several thousand remain, are of interest not merely for literary researchers but also for the commentary that they offer on major literary controversies. It is probably fair to say that some of Lawrence’s political and social views have come to be regarded as curious and unfortunate manifestations of the undeveloped side of an essentially aesthetic temperament. Throughout all of his efforts, however, there are common elements which lend an essential unity to the entire body of his work. In all of his fictional offerings, Lawrence stressed the primacy of feeling, and a sense of emotional directness is communicated both in passages presenting natural descriptions and in his evocation of human relations. On a subjective level, sensations and intuitions are recaptured vividly in many places, though it may be contended...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
David Herbert Lawrence was born in Eastwood, a coal mining town in Nottinghamshire, England, on September 11, 1885. His father, Arthur John Lawrence, was a gregarious, hard-drinking collier whose marriage to Lydia Beardsall, formerly a schoolteacher of genteel refinements, was a continuous struggle for mastery. D. H. Lawrence was the third son born into this household, along with two sisters. A gentle, studious, sissified boy, Lawrence was sometimes scorned by the more robust colliers’ sons of the town; shunning their athletic games, he enjoyed instead the company of his sisters or of their young female friends, whom he charmed with his skill at charades and games of mimicry. Above all, he enjoyed excursions in the Derbyshire countryside not far from the grimy mines, near the lush Sherwood Forest area surrounding Eastwood, a retreat that Lawrence once called “the country of my heart.”
Although he did not enter school until he was seven, he made rapid progress when he was enrolled in the Beauvale Board School, and at the age of twelve he was awarded a North County Council scholarship to Nottingham High School, eight miles from his town. After he left high school in 1901, he was briefly employed in Nottingham at the office of a surgical supply factory. At sixteen, he suffered from a severe bout with pneumonia and required a long time to recuperate....
(The entire section is 844 words.)
Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
In “The Rocking-Horse Winner,” D.H. Lawrence makes clear his belief that the only “luck” that a person ever achieves in life is the good fortune—or capability—to love. Yet not all forms of love are life enhancing. As a moralist, Lawrence urges his readers to discriminate between incomplete, self-involved, or perverse love and love represented by phallic tenderness. In Lady Chatterley’s Lover, particularly, he shows how good sex (which is natural, spontaneous, springing from tender feelings toward one’s partner) renews life, whereas, bad sex (which is cerebral, mechanical, springing from self-involvement and the urge to dominate another human being) results in emotional sterility.
In his essay “Why the Novel Matters,” Lawrence wrote that “the novel is the book of life.” By that he did not mean simply that the novel provides a reader with vicarious experiences that resemble life. Instead, he meant that the novel actually gives the reader life, because the novelist transmits part of his life force to the reader. As a novelist and as a writer of different genres, Lawrence is generous in providing not only the simulation of life but also life itself.
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
David Herbert Lawrence was the most versatile—and arguably the most gifted—English author of the twentieth century. He was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, in the industrial British Midlands, the son of an illiterate collier who drank too much and a puritanical mother who was desperate to have her sons rise above the working-class milieu of the small mining village. At age twelve Lawrence won a scholarship to attend Nottingham High School. Following three unhappy years of teaching elementary school during his late teens, he began two years of study at University College, Nottingham, where he started writing poems and bits of his first novel, The White Peacock. Bored with college, he left at age twenty-three to teach at a grammar school in south London. The closest friend of his youth, Jessie Chambers (the Miriam of Sons and Lovers), sent some of his poems to Ford Madox Ford, who printed them in The English Review and subsequently helped get The White Peacock published.
A cluster of important events occurred in Lawrence’s life during his mid-twenties: His mother, who had dominated his life, died; he broke off his relationship with Jessie Chambers, whom he felt did not meet the needs of his passions; and he left teaching (and thereafter lived on his scanty literary earnings). In May, 1912,...
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David Herbert Richard (D. H.) Lawrence was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England, on September 11, 1885, the son of coal miner Arthur Lawrence and schoolteacher Lydia Beardsall. A novelist, critic, and poet known for writing about the conflicts between men and women, Lawrence derived much of his material from his childhood, which was fraught with tension. His mother resented his father’s hard drinking and lack of ambition, and the two bickered and quarreled regularly. Lydia Beardsall eventually succeeded in turning her five children against their father, and she developed an especially close bond with David, after having nursed him back to life from a bout of double pneumonia during childhood. When she died in 1910, Lawrence’s illness returned and almost killed him. After recovering, he quit his teaching post at the Davidson School in Croydon, terminated his romantic relationships, and flung himself headlong into his writing career, abandoning his middle-class desires and adopting a bohemian lifestyle. In 1912, he eloped with Frieda von Richthofen Weekley, the wife of a professor at the University of Nottingham, who left her husband and three small children to be with Lawrence.
A prolific writer, Lawrence published four novels, a play, a collection of poems, and a collection of stories before he turned thirty. His first real success came with the publication of his third novel, Sons and Lovers (1913), a fictionalized autobiography of his...
(The entire section is 395 words.)
David Herbert Lawrence was born September 11, 1885. His father was Arthur John Lawrence, an illiterate coal miner in the Nottinghamshire area of England; his mother was Lydia Beardsall Lawrence, a teacher. The fact that his mother had more education than his father caused friction in the Lawrence household. From boyhood, Lawrence was very close to his mother and, following his mother's encouragement, he studied at Nottingham University College, where he began writing short stories. In 1908, he moved to Croyden, just south of London, and began teaching. He never returned to his childhood home.
Lawrence began to publish poetry and, because he had developed tuberculosis, decided to quit teaching and write full time in 1911. That same year he published his first novel, The White Peacock, which was well received by critics. When he was twenty-seven years old, Lawrence eloped to Germany with Frieda von Richthofen Weekly, the wife of one of his college professors, and they were married in 1914. He and Frieda returned to England just before the beginning of World War I, but they endured continual harassment from the English government due to Lawrence's objections to the war and Frieda's German ancestry.
Lawrence's next novel, The Rainbow, was judged obscene and was banned in England; many of his subsequent works incited similar controversy. This experience left Lawrence bitter and more convinced than ever that the forces of modern...
(The entire section is 399 words.)
The fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, an illiterate coal miner, and Lydia Beardsall Lawrence, a former school teacher, David Herbert Lawrence was born in 1885 and raised in the mining village of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. From boyhood he shared a close relationship with his mother and grew to hate the debilitating mine work he considered responsible for his father’s debased condition. Later in his life, however, he acquired a genuine sympathy for his father’s plight. Lawrence attended local grammar and secondary schools and later, from 1906 to 1908, studied at Nottingham University College, where he began writing short stories. In 1908, he moved to Croyden, just south of London, to teach school. While there he discovered the works of such writers as Thomas Hardy and Joseph Conrad. He also came to the attention of novelist Ford Madox Hueffer (later known as Ford Madox Ford), who was editor of the English Review. Hueffer published some of Lawrence’s early poetry and stories, including an early version of ‘‘Odour of Chrysanthemums,’’ which was written in 1909 and published in 1911—the same year that the onset of tuberculosis forced Lawrence to resign from teaching. Also in 1911, Lawrence published his first novel, The White Peacock, which was well received by critics. When he was twenty-seven, Lawrence eloped to Germany with Frieda von Richthofen Weekley, the wife of one of his college professors, and the two were married in 1914....
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Biography (Novels for Students)
David Herbert Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in the mining town of Eastwood in the English Midlands. His parents were John Arthur Lawrence, a coal miner and the model for Walter Morel in Sons and Lovers (1913), and Lydia Beardsall Lawrence, a former schoolteacher and the model for Gertrude Morel in the same novel. Lawrence grew up in Eastwood and lived there for twenty years. Those years were difficult for him due to health problems that plagued him from birth, impoverished living conditions, and his parents’ constant fighting. His autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers chronicles those troubled years along with his intense attachment to his mother and his first romantic involvements. Eastwood and the events of his early life appear in other works as well, including his first novel, The White Peacock (1911), his masterpiece, Women in Love (1920), and his most controversial novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928).
After completing a two-year teacher-training course at University College, Nottingham in 1908, Lawrence began a teaching career at a school in Croydon, a London suburb. During this period, he continued his childhood friendship with Jessie Chambers, who encouraged him to continue writing. She became the model for Miriam in Sons and Lovers.
Lawrence escaped the tedium of teaching by writing and soon had his short story, “Odour of Chrysanthemums,” published. A year later, in 1911,...
(The entire section is 485 words.)
IntroductionYou’ll either love him or hate him for what and how he writes, but there is no denying that D. H. Lawrence is an extraordinarily important figure in English-language literature. A prolific author of essays, plays, poems, short stories, and novels, Lawrence focused throughout much of his work on the physical and emotional relationships between men and women, subjects which drew Lawrence into considerable controversy. His novels Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Sons and Lovers were censored or outright banned because of their sexual content, and some of his manuscripts were even seized by British authorities for perceived indecency. Despite his initially shaky reception, Lawrence is now recognized by many critics as a masterful writer who would not shy away from depicting complex human interactions.
- Lawrence’s childhood was marked by poverty and family discord. He later said that one of the more depressing things he did as an adult was to go back and visit where he grew up.
- In 1912, Lawrence met Frieda Weekley, the wife of his former college professor. Frieda and Lawrence eloped one month later, creating quite a social scandal.
- While living in Germany with Frieda, Lawrence was arrested and accused of being a British spy. Later, when the couple returned to England, Lawrence was accused of being a German spy.
- Lawrence once took a walking tour from Germany to Italy so that he could write a travel book.
- Lawrence also wrote a book about British history. However, he had to use a pen name because of his stained reputation.
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