Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


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.

Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

1885–1910: England
Lawrence’s novel begins in 1885 and ends in 1911, roughly following the outline of Lawrence’s own life....

(The entire section is 527 words.)

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)

Sons and Lovers is structured episodically. This means that the novel consists of a series of episodes tied...

(The entire section is 296 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Sons and Lovers is an excellent example of a realism heightened by poetic intensification, such as a symbolic identification of...

(The entire section is 350 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

This novel is worthy of study for several reasons. Not only is it accessible, but it is one of Lawrence's more successful and representative...

(The entire section is 214 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

1900–1920: In 1912, Sigmund Freud delivers a speech before the London Society of Psychical Research detailing for the first time his...

(The entire section is 149 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Compare Lawrence’s novel to the film adaptation made of it in 1960 which was directed by Jack Cardiff. How does Cardiff adapt Lawrence’s...

(The entire section is 264 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Critics often point to Thomas Carlyle's apocalyptic writings as a strong influence on the didactic strain in Lawrence's work, and to Thomas...

(The entire section is 383 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Lawrence considered all of his work to be "thought adventures"; each title was a further attempt to clarify his vision and to represent the...

(The entire section is 489 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Novels for Students)

The most acclaimed film adaptation of Lawrence’s novel is the 1960 film Sons and Lovers, directed by Jack Cardiff and starring...

(The entire section is 58 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

Lawrence’s novel The Rainbow (1915) follows three generations of a Nottingham family, detailing their love affairs, marriages, and...

(The entire section is 126 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)

Baron, Helen, “Disseminated Consciousness in Sons and Lovers,” in Essays in Criticism, Vol. 48, No. 4,...

(The entire section is 381 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Balbert, Peter, and Phillip L. Marcus, eds. D. H. Lawrence: A Centenary Consideration. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985. Eleven essays on D. H. Lawrence and his novels. Two are effective for research on Sons and Lovers: Mark Spilka’s “For Mark Schorer with Combative Love: The Sons and Lovers Manuscript,” and feminist critic Sandra M. Gilbert’s masterful “Potent Griselda: ‘The Ladybird’ and the Great Mother.”

Gilbert, Sandra. D. H. Lawrence’s “Sons and Lovers” and Other Works: “The Rainbow,” “Women in Love,” “The Plumed Serpent.” New York: Simon & Schuster, 1965....

(The entire section is 269 words.)