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D. H. Lawrence

Novelist, Poet

Country:England

Lifetime: 1885 - 1930 Passed: ≈ 92 years ago

David Herbert Lawrence was an English writer and poet. His collected works represent, among other things, an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. Lawrence's writing explores issues such as sexuality, emotional health, vitality, spontaneity, and instinct. His works include Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love and Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Lawrence's opinions earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile he called his "savage pilgrimage". At the time of his death, his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents. E. M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as "the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation."Later, the literary critic F. R. Leavis championed both his artistic integrity and his moral seriousness.

 

 

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, Lawrence spent his formative years in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. The house in which he was born, 8a Victoria Street, is now the D. H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum. His working-class background and the tensions between his parents provided the raw material for a number of his early works. Lawrence roamed out from an early age in the patches of open, hilly country and remaining fragments of Sherwood Forest in Felley woods to the north of Eastwood, beginning 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.

 

In the autumn of 1908, the newly qualified Lawrence left his childhood home for London. While teaching in Davidson Road School, Croydon, he continued writing. Jessie Chambers submitted some of Lawrence's early poetry to Ford Madox Ford (then known as Ford Hermann Hueffer), editor of the influential The English Review. Hueffer then commissioned the story Odour of Chrysanthemums which, when published in that magazine, encouraged Heinemann, a London publisher, to ask Lawrence for more work. His career as a professional author now began in earnest, although he taught for another year.

 

In late February 1922, the Lawrences left Europe behind with the intention of migrating to the United States. They sailed in an easterly direction, first to Ceylon and then on to Australia. A short residence in Darlington, Western Australia, where he met local writer Mollie Skinner, was followed by a brief stop in the small coastal town of Thirroul, New South Wales, during which Lawrence completed Kangaroo, a novel about local fringe politics that also explored his wartime experiences in Cornwall.

 

The Lawrences finally arrived in the United States in September 1922. Lawrence had several times discussed the idea of setting up a utopian community with several of his friends, having written in 1915 to Willie Hopkin, his old socialist friend from Eastwood:

"I want to gather together about twenty souls and sail away from this world of war and squalor and found a little colony where there shall be no money but a sort of communism as far as necessaries of life go, and some real Lawrence continued to write despite his failing health. In his last months he wrote numerous poems, reviews and essays, as well as a robust defence of his last novel against those who sought to suppress it. His last significant work was a reflection on the Book of Revelation, Apocalypse. After being discharged from a sanatorium, he died on 2 March 1930 at the Villa Robermond in Vence, France, from complications of tuberculosis. Frieda commissioned an elaborate headstone for his grave bearing a mosaic of his adopted emblem of the phoenix. After Lawrence's death, Frieda lived with the couple's friend Angelo Ravagli on their Taos ranch and eventually married him in 1950. In 1935, Ravagli arranged, on Frieda's behalf, to have Lawrence's body exhumed and cremated and his ashes brought back to the ranch to be interred there in a small chapel amid the mountains of New Mexico. decency… a place where one can live simply, apart from this civilisation… with a few other people who are also at peace and happy and live, and understand and be free…"

 

Lawrence continued to write despite his failing health. In his last months he wrote numerous poems, reviews and essays, as well as a robust defence of his last novel against those who sought to suppress it. His last significant work was a reflection on the Book of Revelation, Apocalypse. After being discharged from a sanatorium, he died on 2 March 1930 at the Villa Robermond in Vence, France, from complications of tuberculosis. Frieda commissioned an elaborate headstone for his grave bearing a mosaic of his adopted emblem of the phoenix. After Lawrence's death, Frieda lived with the couple's friend Angelo Ravagli on their Taos ranch and eventually married him in 1950. In 1935, Ravagli arranged, on Frieda's behalf, to have Lawrence's body exhumed and cremated and his ashes brought back to the ranch to be interred there in a small chapel amid the mountains of New Mexico.

 

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Books by D. H. Lawrence