Written by Jacqueline Langelier


Biography of D. H. Lawrence

        David Herbert Richards Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885 in Eastwood Nottinghamshire, central England. He was the fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence (1846-1924) a struggling coal miner and heavy drinker and Lydia Beardsall (1851-1910), a former school teacher and unsuccessful cloths shop keeper. Throughout Lawrence’s childhood he was witness to his parents on going fights, seeing his mother trying to do her best for them, while his father drank to escape the tensions he experienced at home. As a result of this Lawrence never forgave his father for the poverty his family had to endure and this theme reoccurs in a great number of his works. D.H. Lawrence was described as a sickly book-loving boy that preferred the company of girls over that of boys. After attending the Beauvale Board School he won a scholarship to Nottingham High School 1898.  Following his three years of High School he acquired a clerk position at the Nottingham surgical appliance factory which he was forced to abandon because of a severe pneumonia. Once Bert’s, as they called him, had recovered he completed a certificate in teaching from Nottingham University and briefly pursued a teaching career. It was during this year, 1908, that he worked on his first poems, short stories and even began drafting his first novel “The White Peacock”. In June 1909 his dear friend Jessie Chambers (1887-1944) sent some of his poems to the editor of the English Review, Mr. Ford Madox Hueffer (1873-1939) who published them in the November issue. From then on Lawrence began thinking more and more of making a career of his writing.

   On December 9, 1910 Lydia Lawrence died of a long and painful cancer. Lawrence had helped her die by giving her an overdose of morphine. A year later his novel “The White Peacock” was published and this event truly launched his career as a writer. In November 1911 pneumonia struck once again. Lawrence, after recovering, decided to abandon teaching for good and become a full time author. It was in 1912 that another very important event occurred in Lawrence’s life; he met Emma Maria Frieda Johanna Weekley, born von Richthofen, the 33 year old wife of his Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Nottingham. Frieda finally left her husband and three children and married after her official divorce. While visiting Frieda’s family in Metz, the couple had wandered into a military area and Lawrence was suspected of spying. Frieda’s father, Baron Friedrich von Richthofen was able to get him out of trouble but suggested that he’d better leave Metz. In 1913 his novel “Sons and Lovers”, which was based on his childhood, appeared. That next year he married Frieda and traveled to several countries with her by his side. When the First World War broke out the couple decided to move back to England and stayed off the coast of Cornwall. With a German wife living in England which was at war with Germany Lawrence’s problems were far from finished. They were both accused of spying for the German’s and his fourth novel “The Rainbow” that talked about two sister’s growing up in England was discriminated against after an investigation into its alleged obscenity in 1915. Over 1000 copies of his book were destroyed. Fortunately he had other projects in mind and in 1916 wrote an early version of “The Horse-Dealer’s Daughter”. In 1917 the couple was  expelled from Cornwall, because of these spying allegations and they returned to London. Until 1919 he barely servived an influenza attack while being pushed from place to place because of his lack of funds and.  Later that year he left England once again to exile himself in Italy he passed through Spezia, Turin, Florence and Capri where he wrote the first draft of “Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious”.  Finally the couple deicided to buy  a house in the southern part of Italy, the Fontana Vecchia, it was in this house that he completed his novel “The Lost Girl” and started another “Mr. Noon”. Soon after Frieda and Lawrence traveled from Italy to Germany and then to Austria. In 1922 they abandoned Europe and made a brief voyage to Ceylon and Australia, where Lawrence began to write “The Kangaroo”. On August 11, 1922 they sailed to San Francisco, on Frieda’s 43rd birthday. When the couple arrived in Santa Fe they stayed with Mabel Sterne and Lawrence expressed his delite by writing an essay on New Mexico. Fasinated by his surroundings he decided to go to Mexico. After completing his novel “The Kangaroo” he went up as far as New York and refused to sail back to England. The couple went their separate ways. Lawrence traveled through the U.S. and ended back in Mexico. Three months went by before he went back to England, to Frieda. However the couple didn’t stay long in Europe. On March 5, 1924 they sailed back to America and returned to the ranch life in Taos . The Kiowa ranch offered him peace of mind and inspiration for his novel “The Woman Who Rode Away”. After being relativly well for months Lawrence started spitting blood and it marked the first real sign of the tuberculosis which would shadow the last five years of his life. Struggling to finish his work he then suffered a major down fall.  He almost died, from a combination of typhoid, malaria and influenza. He was to ill to travel and needed time to recover before going back to Europe on September 21, 1925. During his last years he spent much of his time going from Germany to Italy and briefly visiting England. It was in 1928 that Lawrence’s best known work was published “Lady Chatterly’s Lover”. His tuberculosis leaving him weakned, he could only write a few poems by the sea of Bandol.  D.H Lawrence died in a sanitorium in Vence, France on March 2nd ,1930.