David Herbert Lawrence was born on 11th September 1885 in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. His birthplace, 8a Victoria Street, is now maintained as a museum, in the style of a turn of the century house. He was an author of novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, travel books, and letters. His novels Sons and Lovers (1913), The Rainbow (1915), and Women in Love (1920) made him one of the most important English writers of the 20th century.
Lawrence was the fourth child of an illiterate Nottinghamshire coal miner, and an educated mother. Lawrence had a difficult relationship with his home town, which was until recently in a coal mining area and, as an academic and a person interested in books and poetry rather than earning a living through his own physical labours was regarded as ‘different’. His contempories did not have fond memories of him and it has only been in recent times that Eastwood has begun to grant him the recognition he deserves.
Lawrence himself was deeply affected by his early years in the town and much of his writings use the locality as a backdrop, especially the contrast between mining town and unspoiled countryside, the life and culture of the miners, and the problems between his parents. He always referred to the Eastwood district as ‘the country of my heart’ but this was an affection born more of absence than anything else. I strongly recommend you visit my web page covering the mining background to Lawrence’s works.
After attending Beauvale Boys School he won a scholarship to Nottingham High School (1898-1901) and it is interesting that in his final year he obtained only thirteenth place in English, out of a class of twenty seven. He left school at 16 to earn a living as clerk in a surgical appliance factory in Nottingham, but he had to give up work after a first attack of pneumonia. Convalescing, he began visiting the Haggs Farm nearby and began an intense friendship with Jessie Chambers.
He became a pupil-teacher in Eastwood in 1902 and, encouraged by Jessie, began to write in 1905; his first story being published in a local newspaper in 1907. He subsequently studied at University College, Nottingham, from 1906 to 1908, earning a teachers’ certificate, and went on writing poems and stories and drafting his first novel. In the year of 1911 Lawrence had another attack of pneumonia and decided to give up teaching and live by writing.
He also fell in love and eloped with Frieda Weekley (n e von Richthofen), the German wife of a professor at Nottingham. The couple went first to Germany and then to Italy, They were married in England in 1914 after Frieda’s divorce. During World War I Lawrence and his wife were trapped in England and living in poverty although he managed to avoid conscription. After World War I Lawrence left the country for Italy and never again returned to Eastwood or Great Britain. He died in Vence, France on March 2nd, 1930.