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D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence D. H. Lawrence[2†]

Introduction

David Herbert Lawrence, known as D. H. Lawrence, was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England, and died on March 2, 1930, in Vence, France[1†][2†]. He was an influential English novelist, short story writer, poet, and essayist[1†][2†]. His works reflect on modernity, social alienation, and industrialization, while championing sexuality, vitality, and instinct[1†][2†].

Lawrence’s most notable novels include “Sons and Lovers” (1913), “The Rainbow” (1915), “Women in Love” (1920), and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (1928)[1†][2†]. These works were often the subject of censorship trials for their radical portrayals of sexuality and use of explicit language[1†][2†]. Despite the controversy surrounding his work, Lawrence’s contributions to English literature have been recognized and celebrated. English novelist and critic E. M. Forster described him as "the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation"[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

David Herbert Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England[2†]. He was the fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, a barely literate miner at Brinsley Colliery, and Lydia Beardsall, a former pupil-teacher who had been forced to perform manual work in a lace factory due to her family’s financial difficulties[2†]. The tensions between his parents and his working-class background provided the raw material for a number of his early works[2†].

Lawrence spent his formative years in the coal mining town of Eastwood. The house in which he was born, 8a Victoria Street, is now the D. H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum[2†]. From an early age, Lawrence roamed out in the patches of open, hilly country and remaining fragments of Sherwood Forest in Felley woods to the north of Eastwood[2†]. This began a lifelong appreciation of the natural world, and he often wrote about “the country of my heart” as a setting for much of his fiction[2†].

Lawrence attended Beauvale Board School (now renamed Greasley Beauvale D. H. Lawrence Primary School in his honour) from 1891 until 1898[2†]. He became the first local pupil to win a county council scholarship to Nottingham High School in nearby Nottingham[2†]. He left in 1901[2†], working for three months as a junior clerk at Haywood’s surgical appliances factory, but a severe bout of pneumonia ended this career[2†].

He attended the Pupil-Teacher Centre in Ilkeston from 1904 and in 1906 took up a teacher-training scholarship at University College, Nottingham[2†][3†]. After qualifying in 1908 he took up a teaching post at the Davidson School in Croydon, remaining there until 1912[2†][3†].

Career Development and Achievements

D. H. Lawrence was one of the most influential English novelists of the 20th century[1†]. His works include novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, and travel books[1†]. His modernist works reflect on modernity, social alienation, and industrialization, while championing sexuality, vitality, and instinct[1†][2†][1†].

Lawrence’s career began to take off towards the end of 1907 when he won a short story competition[1†][4†]. This marked the beginning of his recognition as a writer[1†][4†]. His first novels, “The White Peacock” (1911) and “The Trespasser” (1912), were followed by “Sons and Lovers” (1913), which is often regarded as his earliest masterpiece[1†][2†][1†].

“Sons and Lovers” was followed by “The Rainbow” (1915) and “Women in Love” (1920)[1†][2†][1†]. These novels were notable for their radical portrayals of sexuality and use of explicit language, leading to several censorship trials[1†][2†][1†]. Despite the controversy, these works have been recognized as significant contributions to English literature[1†][2†][1†].

Lawrence’s last novel, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (1928), was also subject to censorship due to its explicit descriptions of sexual intercourse[1†][2†][1†]. The novel was published privately in Florence, Italy, in 1928, but was not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960[1†][2†][1†].

Throughout his life, Lawrence was often misunderstood and persecuted for his views and artistic preferences[1†][2†]. However, his artistic integrity and moral seriousness were championed by English literary critic F. R. Leavis[1†][2†]. Today, Lawrence is recognized as one of the most versatile and influential writers in 20th-century literature[1†][5†].

First Publication of His Main Works

D. H. Lawrence was a prolific writer whose works spanned across various forms of literature, including novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, and travel books[1†][2†][6†]. His most notable works are his novels, which have left a significant impact on English literature[1†][2†][7†]. Here are some of his main works:

Lawrence’s works were often the subject of censorship trials due to their radical portrayals of sexuality and use of explicit language[1†][2†]. Despite the controversies, his works have been recognized for their artistic integrity and moral seriousness[1†][2†].

Analysis and Evaluation

D. H. Lawrence’s work is characterized by its bold originality, powerful style, and distinct consistency, so much so that the term “Lawrentian” has been coined to describe his unique way of looking at the world and presenting it[6†]. His work, regardless of its form, consistently explores themes of modernity, social alienation, industrialization, sexuality, vitality, and instinct[6†].

Lawrence’s novels, particularly “Sons and Lovers”, have been praised for their honest treatment of the British working class[6†]. His exploration of sexuality and use of explicit language in works like “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” brought him notoriety, but also sparked conversations about societal norms and censorship[6†].

Despite the controversies surrounding his work, Lawrence’s contributions to English literature have been widely recognized. Influential critics like F. R. Leavis have declared Lawrence to be the most important writer of his generation, comparing him to the likes of Charles Dickens[6†].

Lawrence’s work has also been the subject of psychoanalytic readings, with critics examining the resistance and themes present in his work[6†][8†]. His influence extends beyond literature, impacting fields like history and psychoanalysis[6†][8†].

After Lawrence’s death, his critical reputation experienced a decline, but his works continued to sell. His reputation is worldwide; as of 1982, there were nearly three hundred titles pertaining to Lawrence translated into thirty languages[6†].

Personal Life

D. H. Lawrence was born into a working-class family, the fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, a miner at Brinsley Colliery, and Lydia Beardsall, a former pupil-teacher who had been forced to perform manual work in a lace factory due to her family’s financial difficulties[2†][9†]. His upbringing in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, and the tensions between his parents provided the raw material for a number of his early works[2†].

In 1912, Lawrence met Frieda Weekley, the wife of Ernest Weekley, his former modern languages professor at University College[2†][10†]. He fell deeply in love with her and persuaded her to leave her husband and children to be with him[2†][10†]. Frieda eventually obtained a divorce from her husband and married Lawrence in 1914[2†][10†][11†]. Their relationship was a significant part of Lawrence’s life and influenced much of his work.

During World War I, Lawrence and Frieda faced hostility and suspicion due to his pacifism and her German origins[2†][11†]. After 1919, they lived in various countries and never returned to England[2†][11†]. Despite the challenges they faced, their relationship remained strong until Lawrence’s death in 1930[2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

D. H. Lawrence’s legacy is as complex and multifaceted as his work. His novels, poems, and essays have been both celebrated and criticized, reflecting the divisive nature of his writing[12†]. His works, which often challenged the accepted values of Western civilization and the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization[12†][13†][14†], have been banned and championed, praised and denounced[12†].

Lawrence’s exploration of sexuality, instinct, and vitality in his works, particularly in novels like “Sons and Lovers”, “Women in Love”, and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, sparked controversy and led to several censorship trials[12†][1†]. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Lawrence has left an indelible mark on 20th-century literature[12†][1†].

His influence extends beyond literature. His reflections on the human condition, his critique of industrialization, and his exploration of sexuality have influenced thinkers and writers across various fields[12†]. His work continues to provoke debate and inspire new interpretations, ensuring his place in the literary canon[12†].

Lawrence’s legacy is perhaps best summed up by English novelist and critic E. M. Forster, who described him as "the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation"[12†][1†]. Despite the controversies and criticisms, Lawrence’s work continues to be studied and appreciated for its depth, complexity, and bold exploration of human nature[12†][1†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - D.H. Lawrence: English writer [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - D. H. Lawrence [website] - link
  3. University of Nottingham - Brief Biography of DH Lawrence [website] - link
  4. Poem Analysis - Biography of D.H. Lawrence [website] - link
  5. GradeSaver - D.H. Lawrence Biography [website] - link
  6. eNotes - D. H. Lawrence Analysis [website] - link
  7. Book Series In Order - D.H. Lawrence [website] - link
  8. Cambridge University Press - The Cambridge Companion to D. H. Lawrence - Chapter: Lawrence and psychoanalysis (Chapter 12) [website] - link
  9. IMDb - D.H. Lawrence - Biography [website] - link
  10. The Famous People - D. H. Lawrence Biography [website] - link
  11. Britannica - D. H. Lawrence summary [website] - link
  12. The New Republic - Review: “Burning Man: The Trials of D.H. Lawrence” Confronts A Divisive Legacy [website] - link
  13. Poetry Foundation - D. H. Lawrence [website] - link
  14. The Guardian - The death of DH Lawrence - archive, 1930 [website] - link
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