David Herbert Lawrence was born on 11 September 1885 at what is now 8a Victoria Street, Eastwood, near Nottingham, and the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, the fourth of the five children of Arthur John Lawrence (1846-1924) and his wife Lydia (1851-1910). Arthur - like his three brothers - was a coal-miner at Brinsley Colliery and barely literate.
Lawrence's mother Lydia was the second daughter of Robert Beardsall and his wife Lydia Newton of Sneinton; originally lower middle-class, the Beardsalls had suffered financial disaster in the 1860s and Lydia - in spite of attempts to work as a pupil-teacher - had been forced into employment as a sweated home-worker in the lace industry. But she had had more education than her husband, which resulted in tensions in the home, and passed on to at least two of her sons and both of her daughters an enduring love of books, a religious faith and a commitment to self-improvement, as well as a profound desire to move out of the working class in which she felt herself trapped. 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. However, according to Professor Worthen's very detailed biography he was often in poor health and obviously frail, was bullied at school, failing to join in games with the other boys (coal miner's sons) and (still worse) clearly preferred the company of girls, who talked rather than fought. He knew from very early on that, in spite of his father's expectations, he would not be a miner! He left school in 1901.
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 and from there moved to London beginning his literary career.
In March 1912 Lawrence met Frieda Emma Johanna Maria Weekley (née von Richthofen), with whom he was to share the rest of his life. Six years older than her new lover, she was married to Ernest Weekley, his former modern languages professor at University College, Nottingham, and had three young children. She eloped with Lawrence to her parents' home in Metz, a garrison town then in Germany near the disputed border with France. She was to provide much to inspire his great literary output and paintings, which were not appreciated until after his early death in 1930, and is well documented in the two biographical sources. 'Sons and lovers' (1913), 'Women in love' (1920) and 'Lady Chatterley's lover' (1928) are amongst the most well known of his works. They also travelled widely.
What has not been made so evident is, that like the great American poet Walt Whitman, whom Lawrence admired greatly, he had a 'heightened vision' or 'intensified awareness of' and 'a strong connection with the natural world'. Taylor also notes that this was most clearly expressed in David's poems, which was Whitman's main form of expression. The characteristics are common to people referred to as mystics.
For a complete bibliography, please see freespace page
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