Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Bestwood

Bestwood. English coal-mining town in Nottinghamshire in which the novel is primarily set. Dominated by mine buildings, machinery, and towering slag heaps, Bestwood depends for its existence on the local coal company, Carson, Waite and Company, and its residents are virtually owned by the company store.

D. H. Lawrence modeled Bestwood on the real Nottinghamshire mining town of Eastwood, in which he was born and spent his early years. There, he lived in circumstances very similar to those described in his novel. His father worked for Barber, Walker Coal Company, on which he modeled his fictional Carson, Waite and Company.

The Bottoms

The Bottoms. Bestwood neighborhood in which the Morel family lives. The neighborhood contains six blocks of miners’ homes, distributed “like dots on a blank-six domino,” with twelve houses to a block. Outwardly, the houses appear substantial and decent. They have pleasant little gardens in front, neat front windows, porches, privet hedges, and dormer windows. However, the insides of the houses tell a different story.

The main rooms of the houses are the kitchen, which is located at the back of each house, overlooking scrubby little back gardens and garbage dumps. Between the rows of houses and long lines of ash-pits are alleys in which children play, women gossip, and men smoke. Thus, the house that appears to be “so well built and that looked so nice, was quite unsavory because people must live in the kitchen, and the kitchens opened on to that nasty alley of ash-pits.”

Willey Farm

Willey Farm. Home of Miriam Leivers, Paul Morel’s first lover. Located in the countryside outside Bestwood, Willey Farm stands in startling contrast to the Bottoms, where Paul lives, as it represents the natural world. There, Paul comes to know a family tied to the earth and to nature’s cycles—a strong contrast to the mining environment that brutalizes the land, the men who work in the tunnels, and their families. Willey Farm lives in accord with the rhythms and purpose of nature in its unspoiled state. Among its animals and crops, Paul begins to discover his own physical and emotional identity. As an antithesis to Bestwood, Willey Farm offers Paul a pastoral escape from the smothering presence of his domineering mother, his father’s drunken rages, and the drabness and dirt of the coal-mining town.