Biography of D.H. Lawrence
D.H. Lawrence was a twentieth century novelist known for his work on human relationships.
When and Where was he Born?
11th September 1885, 8a Victoria Street, Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England. Christened David Herbert Lawrence.
D. H. Lawrence was the fourth child of a coal miner father Arthur John Lawrence who was a heavy drinker and his teacher mother Lydia. His parents were intellectually ill matched and argued incessantly.
Beauvale Board School. Then won a scholarship to Nottingham High School. University College, Nottingham.
Timeline of David Herbert Lawrence:
1898: Lawrence goes to Nottingham to attend High School.
1901: He leaves school to become a junior clerk at Haywoods Surgical Appliance factory. He was bullied by the factory girls and then contracts pneumonia so had to leave. He goes to Hagg’s Farm whilst he is recovering and is introduced to literature by the daughter, Jessie Chambers.
1902: D.H. Lawrence becomes a teacher at the British School in Eastwood.
1904: He writes his first poems at the age of nineteen many of which tried to follow the style of William Wordsworth.
1906: Lawrence goes up to University College Nottingham to become a student.
1907: He wins a short story competition organised by the Nottingham Guardian newspaper. He starts writing the novel that was to become “The White Peacock”.
1908: Newly qualified as a teacher he goesto London and teaches in the Davidson Road school in Croydon.
1909: First publication of some of Lawrence’s poems in the Journal “The English Review”.
1910: Publication of his first novel “The White Peacock”. Death of his mother from cancer whom he had helped die by giving a large dose of sleeping pills.
1911: He suffers his second bout of pneumonia. He decides to stop being a teacher and to give himself up full time to writing. He also breaks off his engagement with Louie Burrows whom he had known from his days at Eastwood. He is introduced to a publisher’s reader called Edward Garnett who is to encourage him in writing.
1912: Lawrence meets and falls in love with Frieda von Richthofen who was the wife of his former modern languages Professor at Nottingham Ernest Weekly. She left her husband and three children and they elope to her parent’s house in Metz, Germany. Here he is accused of being a British spy but is saved from arrest by Frieda’s father and then he moves on to a small town south of Munich in Bavaria. They then walk across the Alps to Italy. (Note: The nearest relative Frieda and the German World War One flying Ace Baron Von Richtofen (The Red Baron) share lived in the seventeenth century).
1913: Lawrence returns to Britain for a short time before returning to Italy.
1914: On 13th July marries Frieda Weekley, an aristocratic former wife of the Professor who had taught Lawrence at Nottingham. After his marriage he tours many countries in Europe with his new wife.
1915: The Novel “The Rainbow” is suppressed after being alleged to be obscene.
1916: Lawrence becomes friendly with a Cornish farmer named William Henry Hocking. Frieda later believed that this may have been a homosexual relationship. At the time he was writing “Women in Love”.
1917: Lawrence and Frieda are expelled from Zennor in Cornwall where they were living accused of being German spies and signalling to German submarines.
1919: He has a severe attack of influenza. They both emigrate from Britain firstly to Capri, in Italy and then begin several years of moving around.
1922: Lawrence and Frieda leave Europe with the intention of emigrating to the United States but sail eastwards to begin with to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and then on to Thirroul, New South Wales, Australia. They finally reach America in September. Here they wanted to set up a Utopian community on a ranch near Taos, New Mexico.
1923: They make a brief trip back to Britain but the journey was not a success and they soon return to Taos convinced that America was the place to be.
1925: Lawrence suffers a severe attack of tuberculosis and malaria on a trip to Mexico which nearly killed him. His ill health means that he has to go back to Europe and his traveling days were over. They leave for Italy and set up home in a villa near Florence. Here he writes “The Virgin and the Gipsy” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. It was at this period that he renewed his friendship with Aldous Huxley who was to edit much of his material after his death.
1927: He visits Etruscan archaeological sites in Tuscany with Earl Brewster.
1928: The first private publication of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” It was not until it was published long after his death by Penguin that the well publicised obscenity trial concerning the book was held.
1929: D.H. Lawrence begins painting seriously again and several of his pictures are confiscated by the police in London from an exhibition at the Warren Gallery for being too explicit. Some of his paintings can now be seen in the La Fonda Hotel in Taos, New Mexico, United States.
When and Where did he Die?
2nd March 1930, Vence, Near Antibes, France due to complications from tuberculosis.
Age at Death:
1911: “The White Peacock”
1912: “The Trespasser”
1913: “Sons and Lovers”, “Love Poems and Others”
1914: “The Prussian Officer and Other Stories, “The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd (Play), “Study of Thomas Hardy and other essays”
1915: “The Rainbow”
1916: “Amores” (Poetry), “Twilight in Italy and Other Essays”
1917: “Look! We have come through!” (poetry)
1918: “New Poems”
1919: “Bay: a book of poems”
1920: “Women in Love”, “The Lost Girl”, “Touch and Go” ” Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious”
1921: “Sea and Sardinia”
1922: “Aaron’s Rod”. “England My England and Other Stories”. “Fantasia of the Unconscious”.
1923: “Kangaroo”. “Studies in Classic American Literature”, “The Fox”, “The Captain’s Doll”,” The Ladybird”, “Birds, Beasts and Flowers (Poetry), “Studies in Classic American Literature”
1924: “The Boy in the Bush”
1925: St Mawr and other stories (1925),”Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and other essays”
1926: “The Plumed Serpent”, “David” (Play)
1927: “Mornings in Mexico”.
1928: “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. “The Woman who Rode Away and other stories”
1929: “Pansies” (Poetry), “The Escaped Cock”
1930: “The Virgin and the Gypsy and Other Stories”. “Love Among the Haystacks and Other Stories”, “Nettles” (Poetry)
(1931): “The Man who Died”, “Apocalypse and the writings on Revelation”
(1932): “Letters”, “Last Poems”, “Sketches of Etruscan Places and other Italian essays”
(1933): “Last Poems”. “The Ship of Death”, “The Fight for Barbara” (Play)
(1934): “A Collier’s Friday Night (Play)
(1940): “Fire and Other Poems”, “The Married Man” (Play)
(1941): “The Merry-go-round (Play)
(1960): “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” in Penguin Paperback (unexpurgated version).
13 July 1914: To Frieda Weekley, aristocratic former wife of the Professor who had taught Lawrence at Nottingham.
Site of Grave:
Originally buried in old Vence cemetery, France. His body was exhumed in 1935 at the request of his wife, cremated at Marseilles and taken back by sea to Taos, in New Mexico by Frieda’s third husband Angelo Ravagli. One story has it that the ashes were scattered over the surrounding hills of New Mexico however it is not certain whether they ever arrived because Ravagli admitted once to throwing the original ashes away in France and substituting them when he got to New York.
(On the Lawrence family grave in Eastwood Cemetery, Nottinghamshire containing his mother and father there is an inscription mentioning David Herbert which some have erroneously taken to mean that he was buried with them).
Places of Interest:
Birthplace Museum at 8a Victoria Street, Eastwood. This now holds the original headstone from his grave in Vence with a design by Frieda.
Durban House Heritage Centre, Mansfield Road, Eastwood.
D H Lawrence Societyc c/o Ron Faulks, 24 Brianwal Avenue, Nottingham,NG3 6JB.