Famously known around the globe as D.H. Lawrence, few could perhaps tell you the answer to this author’s initials. Many more would certainly be able to share that David Herbert Lawrence is one of the most acclaimed and controversial novelists in the world. Born in 1885 in the coal mining town of Eastwood in Nottinghamshire, the English author used his home county as inspiration for many of his books.
Born to humble beginnings, Lawrence’s father Arthur was a miner at Brinsley Colliery, his mother Lydia was a teacher, and he attended Nottingham High School after winning a county council scholarship. He trained to become a teacher at University College, Nottingham, in 1908. While studying he worked on his first literary pieces, and in 1907 won a short story competition in the Nottinghamshire Guardian.
There are many Ashfield landmarks mentioned or used as inspiration in Lawrence’s work, including Annesley Old Church that featured in his first novel - written in 1911 - called The White Peacock. He took inspiration from the places he knew and loved to create vivid depictions of the Nottinghamshire he grew up in. His books appreciated the natural world that he discovered in the county through his walks in the countryside and Sherwood Forest. He once wrote in a letter about how the area was ‘the country of my heart’ and frequently used natural surroundings as dramatic settings for his stories.
The world of Lawrence
Teversal village is perhaps the best place to dive into the literary and personal world of Lawrence. The Grade II listed building of Teversal Manor is said to be the fictional setting for Wragby Hall – a location found in his most famous book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The Carnarvon pub, in Teversal, was formerly the Cross Keys and was a place Lawrence regularly visited. Today at the heart of the pub visitors can sit in the Ship Room, where it is believed the author penned Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
The novel was controversial and privately published in 1928, with an unexpurgated version published in the UK in 1960. This led to one of the most famous trials of the 20th century with publishers Penguin prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 at the Old Bailey in London. Witnesses included writers E.M. Forster and Raymond Williams with the verdict delivered in November 1960 as not guilty, allowing the book to be available to the UK public for the first time.
Lawrence delved into a number of literary pursuits throughout his life including writing novels, poems, plays, short stories, and was also an accomplished painter. He travelled the world and died at the age of 44 in 1930 in Vence, France, from tuberculosis complications. He wrote many famous novels based in Nottinghamshire, including The Rainbow and Sons and Lovers. Despite moving around throughout his life, he will always be known as one of the county’s most beloved novelists.
Where to visit
Apart from heading to the village of Teversal and to Annesley Old Church, Lawrence fans can also take a trip to nearby Eastwood to visit the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum. The attraction is found at 8a Victoria Street, which was the writer’s first home, and has been transformed into a museum and gift shop. There is a permanent exhibition of his life with items from his family and paintings he created, and a free annual festival is held in the area with art, music, and literature events. Visitors should also head to the Hidden Valleys area to be inspired by the stunning countryside surroundings that he used in his stories.