D. H. Lawrence
David Herbert Richards Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930) was an English author, poet, playwright, essayist and literary critic. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, human sexuality and instinct.
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 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 generally valued as a visionary thinker and significant representative of modernism in English literature, although some feminists object to the attitudes toward women and sexuality found in his works.
The fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, a barely literate miner, and Lydia (née Beardsall), a former schoolmistress, Lawrence spent his formative years in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. His birthplace, in Eastwood, 8a Victoria Street, is now a 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, which he was to call "the country of my heart," as a setting for much of his fiction.
The young Lawrence attended Beauvale Board School (now renamed Greasley Beauvale D. H. Lawrence Primary School in his honour) from 1891 until 1898, becoming the first local pupil to win a County Council scholarship to Nottingham High School in nearby Nottingham. There is a house in the Junior School named after him. He left in 1901, working for three months as a junior clerk at Haywood's surgical appliances factory before a severe bout of pneumonia ended this career. Whilst convalescing he often visited Haggs Farm, the home of the Chambers family and began a friendship with Jessie Chambers. An important aspect of this relationship with Jessie and other adolescent acquaintances was a shared love of books, an interest that lasted throughout Lawrence's life. In the years 1902 to 1906 Lawrence served as a pupil teacher at the British School, Eastwood. He went on to become a full-time student and received a teaching certificate from University College Nottingham in 1908. During these early years he was working on his first poems, some short stories, and a draft of a novel, Laetitia, that was eventually to become The White Peacock. At the end of 1907 he won a short story competition in the Nottingham Guardian, the first time that he had gained any wider recognition for his literary talents.