Wednesday, 11 September 2013

David Herbert Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930) was an English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter who published as D. H. Lawrence. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, and instinct.

The fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, a barely literate miner, and Lydia (née Beardsall), a former pupil teacher who, owing to her family's financial difficulties, had to do manual work in a lace factory. Lawrence spent his formative years in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. The house in which he was born, in Eastwood, 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 would return to this locality and often wrote about nearby Underwood, calling it; "the country of my heart," as a setting for much of his fiction.

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 which 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 influential Cambridge critic F. R. Leavis championed both his artistic integrity and his moral seriousness, placing much of Lawrence's fiction within the canonical "great tradition" of the English novel. Lawrence is now valued by many as a visionary thinker and significant representative of modernism in English literature.

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 at the Villa Robermond in Vence, France, from complications of tuberculosis. Frieda Weekley commissioned an elaborate headstone for his grave bearing a mosaic of his adopted emblem of the phoenix. After Lawrence's death, Frieda married Angelo Ravagli. She returned to live on the ranch in Taos and later her third husband brought Lawrence's ashes to be interred there in a small chapel set amid the mountains of New Mexico. The headstone has recently been donated to D. H. Lawrence Heritage and is now on display in the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum in his home town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.

2 comments:

  1. He lived in Thirroul, about twenty minutes up the road from here, in 1922, where he wrote Kangaroo.

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  2. He got around a bit then. Thirroul is a far cry from Eastwood, Notts.

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