DH Lawrence - An illustrated concise biography - His life and death.

DH Lawrence 1885 - 1930


Lawrence Vvew of Sons and Lovers Cottage

"Rising above the flames"

His Life, His Death, and Thereafter

DH Lawrence, (David Herbert Richards Lawrence), was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. The picture above shows the view that Lawrence would have had from the house he lived in at Walker Street, after the family moved from the Breach House, (now called Sons and Lovers Cottage.) The lane you can see in the picture is where Lawrence would have walked to visit Jessie Chambers at Haggs Farm in Underwood. If you look closely at the bottom of the picture, you can just see the Sons and Lovers Cottage through the trees.

My name is Gavin Gillespie, I was born, and still live in the Eastwood area, and just like Lawrence, I have roamed the same countryside that he so loved. Thanks for visiting, and I hope you enjoy the site. Please leave any comments in the Guestbook, using the link button at the bottom of the page.

This site contains photographs, mostly taken by me, and information about DH Lawrence, Eastwood, and the surrounding areas of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, including places like Greasley, Moorgreen, Brinsley, Underwood, Newthorpe and Giltbrook. Please use the links at the bottom of this page for further information. The images, and also the textual content of this site, must not be copied for use in any other website, or publication, without written consent.

DH Lawrence's Birthplace

DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum Eastwood


DH Lawrence's birthplace is now a museum, and has been converted back to how it would have looked when Lawrence was a child. The bedroom, above the shop window, is the actual room where Lawrence was born. Lawrence's full name was David Herbert Richards Lawrence, but he was always known as Bert. He was born in a small terraced house at 8a Victoria Street, in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, on the 11th. September 1885

Quotes from Alfred Johnson, aged 65, a garage hand at Leivers Garage (which was next to Lawrence's birthplace) speaking in 1960 about life in Eastwood when Lawrence was a child:-

"Until 1900, the women fetched water from a stream a quarter of a mile away at the bottom of the hill. They would return with the buckets swinging on the yokes that normally hung outside nearly every home."

"William Leivers had a cart with a barrel on it in which he fetched water from the stream, selling it for a farthing a bucket. On Fridays, the butchers would kill a beast in their shops, swill the floor, and hang the head outside as a sign to the women to come and get their weekend meat."

(In 1900, there would have been 960 farthings in an English Pound).

Lawrence was the fourth child born into the family, and later lived in various properties around the Eastwood area, first moving to the Breach in 1887, when he was two, (now number 28 Garden Road). The house is shown on the left hand side in the picture below. The house is situated in a row of 6 blocks, and the blocks are all still standing, the blocks were referred to as 'The Bottoms' in the novel, 'Sons and Lovers' the Breach House is now called Sons and Lovers Cottage.

If you would like to stay in a house at Eastwood, where DH Lawrence once lived as a young boy, this is the place for you. Sons and Lovers Cottage has been restored, and the downstairs converted into a private museum, with some of the original Victorian fittings still in place. The first floor has been converted into an apartment, with a lounge, kitchen, and bathroom, and there are two bedrooms on the top floor. The apartment can accommodate up to 5 people.

To enquire about a stay here, you can contact the owner, John Elliot, directly on 01773-712132 or (International 00-44-1773712132)

Further details on the following link - Sons and Lovers Cottage Info

The Breach House - Sons and Lovers Cottage

The Breach House - Sons and Lovers Cottage


In 1891, the Lawrence family moved into what I think would now be number 8 Walker Street, where they lived for 12 years. The exact house does not seem to be known, but was described by Lawrence as the third house in the block, which, if walking from Eastwood town center, would now be number 8. When I checked the Census records for 1901, they indicated that the houses had not been numbered at the time, but when Lawrence, at the age of 16, applied for employment as a clerk, he gave his address as No.3 Walker Street, this again suggests to me that the house is now number 8, as this would have been the third house in that block, counting from the Eastwood town center, which was the way other houses had been numbered.

Since writing the above, I have now spoken to the owner of number 8 Walker Street, and she has confirmed that Lawrence did in fact live there, (even though the official plaque is attached to number 10). If visiting the area, please remember that number 8 Walker Street is a private residence, and respect the owners privacy.

In the 1901 UK Census, the inhabitants of the Walker Street property were listed as:-

                Arthur Lawrence : aged 53 : Occupation - miner.
                Lydia Lawrence : aged 48 (wife)
                Emily Lawrence : aged 19 (daughter)
                David H Lawrence : aged 15 (son)
                Lettice Lawrence : aged 13 (daughter)
                William G Lawrence : aged 3 (grandson)

The picture below, shows the terraced block of bay-windowed houses on Walker Street. The house in the middle of the terrace, (3rd. upstairs window from the left), is the house where Lawrence lived, and where Lawrence said he would look across the fields, towards Derbyshire, Brinsley, and Underwood.

The House on Walker Street

The family home on Walker Street


The view of the Eastwood countryside, below, is the actual view that Lawrence would have seen from the window of the house on Walker Street. It shows the lane leading up to Coneygrey Farm, with the village of Underwood, just visible on the skyline. This picture was taken in May 2005.

The View from the Walker Street House

The view from the house on Walker Street


The Lawrence's final family home in Eastwood was at number 97 Lynncroft, pictured below. This house was on the road adjoining the Breach, and Walker Street, and the about 250 metres away from the previous home. This house is a semi-detached property, and might have been seen as a further step up the social ladder, but it did not have the views of Walker Street, being on a steep hill with the view obscured by other houses each side of the road.

The Lynncroft House

The Lynncroft family home


The D.H. Lawrence Memorial at Eastwood

DH Lawrence Memorial


This memorial to DH Lawrence is situated near to the Sun Inn pub at Eastwood.

Lawrence's early education was at Greasley Beauvale Board School, near Eastwood, and later, after winning a scholarship in 1898, he attended Nottingham High School. He also studied at Nottingham University and spent a brief time teaching at the Davidson Road school, in Croydon, South London.

Greasley Beauvale Board School

Greasley Board School


His father, Arthur John Lawrence, was born at Quarry Cottage, Brinsley, on the 18th. June 1847, and when Bert Lawrence was born, worked as a coal miner at nearby Brinsley Colliery. The picture below was taken underground at Brinsley Colliery in 1970, and shows the terrible conditions that miners would have worked in hundreds of metres below the ground. The height of the roof appears to be less than 70 centimetres, (27 inches), and is totally unsupported.

Underground at Brinsley Colliery

Brinsley Colliery Underground


D.H. Lawrence's mother, Lydia (nee Beardsall), was born in Ancoats, Manchester on the 19th. July 1852, although her father was originally from a Nottinghamshire family. Lydia sold haberdashery from the Lawrence's front room shop on Victoria Street to help feed and clothe the family. The dates of birth of Lawrence's parents seem to vary depending on which source is used, but the above dates fit in with the dates on their gravestone, and the 1901 Census. Arthur John Lawrence married Lydia Beardsall at Sneinton Parish Church, Nottinghamshire on the 27th December 1875.

Arthur Lawrence is often described as illiterate, but the position that he held down the mines, where he was in charge of a gang of men, and also his choice of wife, seems to indicate that he was far from being unintelligent. His job down the mine entailed working with, and supervising, a group of other miners, as they hacked out the coal by hand. That amount of coal would be measured, and Arthur would be paid at the end of the week, for the exact amount of coal that his group of men mined, it would then be up to him to share out this money fairly between the other men.

Lydia came from a middle class religious family, and the differences in Lawrence's parents backgrounds often led to family conflicts, with his father preferring to spend his wages on drink, to help deaden the pain of working long grueling hours underground, whilst his mother was more concerned with the children's upbringing, welfare, and education. Lydia also had ambition, and wanted to own a shop on the main Nottingham Road in Eastwood, but with a growing family, this proved beyond reach.

A quote from Professor J David Chambers, former Professor of Economic History at Nottingham University, and brother of Jessie Chambers, speaking in 1960:-

“We had very little sympathy for Mrs Lawrence. She felt herself superior to her husband and was jealous of Jessie. Mr Lawrence, although he drank, was a very respected man.”

The Restored Brinsley Colliery Headstocks

The now restored Brinsley headstocks


The conflict between his parents resulted in Lawrence hating his father, possibly blaming him for the poverty and violence that his lifestyle inflicted upon the family. He once wrote in a letter to the poet Rachel Annand Taylor, "I was born hating my father, as early as ever I can remember, I shivered with horror when he touched me."

Lawrence's loathing of his father, also probably extended to the mining community in which he grew up, and perhaps to the Eastwood community itself. Most of the people of Eastwood did not accept Lawrence, and his name was hardly mentioned in the town for many years, because of the perceived disgrace his novels had brought upon the community. Once, when Lawrence returned to visit Eastwood after he became famous, he was asked if he would like to live there again, and he replied, "I hate the damn place"

As a gifted, educated child, he would not have fitted in well with most of the children from other mining families, and he would probably have been cruelly teased, and bullied, because of his superior talents, which elevated him above the other children. Thomas Paxton-Kirk, who was at school with Lawrence, commented when reading about the obscenities trial of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', "I went to school wi' 'im and 'e were a right cissy, allus playin' wit' gels". Another person in 1960 commented on Lawrence's days at Beauvale Board School saying "he was followed in the playground by mobs of boys shouting “Dicky Dicky Denches plays with the wenches” (I am not sure about the word 'Denches' as it means nothing to me, but 'Dicky' would probably refer to his third name Richards)

Even though he does not seem to have liked the village itself, Lawrence loved the beautiful countryside surrounding Eastwood, and this, combined with the stark contrast of the mining industry, was the inspiration for his early novels, including 'The White Peacock' and 'Sons and Lovers'

The View From Haggs Farm at Underwood

A view from Haggs Farm at Underwood


An illustration of Haggs Farm at Underwood

Drawing of Haggs Farm at Underwood


This drawing, of Haggs Farm at Underwood, is by Jack Bronson, taken from a postcard that I acquired.

Visitors are not encouraged, or permitted at this farm, so please respect the owners privacy.

The copyright to this photograph belongs to the artist, Jack Bronson. Unfortunately I have not been able to contact him for approval, but if he, or anyone in his family objects to its use on this site, please let me know and I will remove it.

As a young man, Lawrence would often walk from Eastwood, to visit Jessie Chambers, who lived at Haggs Farm, in nearby Underwood, and it was at Haggs Farm that Lawrence said that he got his first incentive to write. The picture above of the view from Haggs Farm is one I took in August 2002, as I walked the route that Lawrence would have taken when visiting Jessie, and it is this view that he would have seen, when looking towards Moorgreen.

The Chambers family lived at the farm from 1898 to 1910, and Jessie's brother, Jonathan David Chambers, (1898-1970) later became Professor of History at University College Nottingham, where he, along with Professor Vivian de Sola Pinto, played a major role in promoting the work of Lawrence at the University, and also collecting Lawrence related material for the University of Nottingham Library. Jessie Chambers was later to become fictionalised as Miriam Leivers in Sons and Lovers, with Haggs Farm being called Willey Farm in Sons and Lovers, and Strelley Mill in The White Peacock.

Further quotes from Professor J David Chambers, speaking in 1960 about Lawrence and Jessie, and recalling how Lawrence, after deserting Jessie, showed her the first draft he had written of Sons and Lovers.

"I remember seeing her read it. She had to read it all. She had to read what he had done to her. She wrote a considerable commentary in the margin, from which Lawrence rewrote the book."

“Lawrence was ruthless. He would make use of anybody. My sister felt that Lawrence had betrayed himself. She felt that he had allowed the animal side of his nature to come to the top."

Professor Chambers also talked about the earlier days, before Lawrence and Jessie parted:- “He helped with her mathematics and French, although at times he was rather sharp with her, sometimes making her cry."

Coneygrey Farm 2003

Coneygrey Farm at Eastwood


Lawrence would have passed this farm as he walked across the fields to Underwood, and his novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover, is said by local people to be set in the area around the farm.

Lawrence's writing often confuses local people with the names he gave to some of the buildings and places in his novels. He would sometimes name them after a place, or building, which was situated near to the actual place that he was writing about. Willey Farm is an example of this, as Willey Wood Farm is an actual farm, only a short distance from Haggs Farm, and which Lawrence would pass on his walks to visits Jessie.

Lawrence's dearly beloved mother died of cancer in 1910, with Lawrence reported to have given her an overdose of 'sleeping medicine', to end the pain that she was suffering. His father died in 1924, aged 77. They are buried, along with Lawrence's brother William, in the family grave pictured below, in Eastwood Cemetery, which is situated at the bottom of Church Street.

The Lawrence Family Grave at Eastwood

Lawrence family gravestone


The inscription on the stone above reads:-

Here Rests
"Until He Come"
Our Dear Son
William Ernest Lawrence
Born July 22nd. 1878
Died October 11th. 1901
He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him,
Even length of days, for ever and ever.
-
Also Lydia, wife of
Arthur Lawrence,
Born July 19th. 1852,
Died Dec. 9th. 1910.
"It is Finished"
-
Also Arthur,
Husband of the above,
Who Died Sept. 10th. 1924,
Aged 77 years.
Rest After Weariness

Then the inscription continues, implying rather mysteriously, and incorrectly, that D.H. Lawrence is buried here, stating:-

Also David Herbert Lawrence,
Beloved Son Of The Above,
Novelist, Poet and Painter.
Born Sept. 11th. 1885
Died at Vence, Mar. 2nd. 1930.
Unconquered

In 1912, Lawrence met and fell in love with Frieda Weekley, (nee von Richthofen). Frieda, who was the wife of Ernest Weekley, a professor at Nottingham University, left her husband, and three children to be with Lawrence, and they travelled to Bavaria, Austria, Germany and Italy, before returning back to England.

Lawrence married Frieda at the Kensington's Registrar's Office, in London, on the 13th. July 1914, shortly after her divorce from Ernest Weekley. They had intended to return to Italy in August, but this was prevented by the outbreak of the first world war, trapping the couple in England. They moved to Cornwall, staying at Tregerthen Cottage in Zennor, but living near the south coast, and overlooking the British shipping lanes, with a German wife, and with Britain at war with Germany, this only served to compound Lawrence's problems.

These were very troubled times for the couple, They were both accused of spying for Germany, and Lawrence's novel, 'The Rainbow', was banned for its alleged obscenity, with over 1000 copies of the book being destroyed on the orders of the Bow Street magistrates. This caused great financial hardship to Lawrence, and damaged his chances of getting further novels published in England.

It was hardly surprising that Frieda was mistrusted in Cornwall, she and Lawrence were often heard singing German songs as they walked along the cliffs, and her cousin was the German pilot, and air ace, Baron Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron. Manfred's brother, Lothar von Richthofen, was said to be responsible for the unsubstantiated shooting down, and resulting death, of Captain Albert Ball, Nottingham's very own air ace.

Lawrence and Frieda were expelled from Cornwall in 1917, because of the spying allegations, and with not a penny to their name, they returned to London, where they were looked after by friends. Later Lawrence's sister Ada, came to their rescue, paying the rent for them at Mountain Cottage, near Middleton-by-Wirksworth, in Derbyshire, where they stayed until 1919,

A quote by Professor Vivian de Sola Pinto, former Professor of English, at Nottingham University.

"Lawrence had the extreme bad luck to marry the daughter of a German general at the height of the wave of of anti-German feeling. This combined with his outspokenness on sex was too much for the puritanical history of the English which periodically asserts itself."

D.H Lawrence, Author, Poet and Artist

D.H. Lawrence


Lawrence had left Eastwood in 1908, and 11 years later, after the first world war ended, he left England. At this time he was greatly disillusioned, after being persecuted for his 'obscene' style of writing, and also because of his marriage to Frieda. He lived in various countries around the world during his relatively short life, including France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Australia, Ceylon, and New Mexico in the USA. Lawrence returned to England briefly in 1923, to spend Christmas with his sisters, before returning back to New Mexico. I can find no record of him attending his father's funeral, in 1924.

Lawrence returned to Italy, from New Mexico, staying in Florence, and it was here that he wrote the novel, 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'. This was the novel that was to posthumously make him a household name, all around the world. Lady Chatterley's Lover was published in England in 1960, thirty years after Lawrence's death. The publishers, 'Penguin Books', were prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959, but after a lengthy trial, in which many eminent authors were called by the defence lawyers as witnesses, Penguin Books were acquitted.

Lady Chatterley's Lover was released into the bookshops, and the paperback version was quickly snapped up by queues of buyers, eager to see what all the fuss had been about. The controversial swear words, and sexually descriptive passages, were easily found in used copies of the book, either by the finger marks on the edges of the pages, or by just by letting the pages of the book fall open.

D.H. Lawrence died of tuberculosis on the 2nd. March 1930, aged 44, in Vence, France. He was buried in the old Vence cemetery, but his body was later exhumed in March 1935, at the request of Frieda. His remains were cremated at Marseilles, ready to be taken by boat to Taos, in New Mexico, but there is speculation as to whether the ashes arrived at their destination.

Lawrence's headstone, (pictured below), or tombstone, as it would be known in other countries, was constructed as a concrete base, with beach pebbles fashioned into the shape of a phoenix, and measures 24in. x 18in. (61cm. x 46cm.). The stone was removed from the cemetery in Vence after Lawrence's exhumation, and later transported to England by Mrs. Gordon-Crotch, where it was rescued by Professor Vivian de Sola Pinto, who then delivered it to Eastwood Council in 1957. The headstone is now on display in the birthplace of Lawrence, at 8a Victoria Street in Eastwood.

This headstone was previously housed at Eastwood Library, and I would like to give a special mention to Pat Bonsall of Eastwood Library, for the excellent help and co-operation given when taking this image. Eastwood Library now hosts a comprehensive selection of literature written by Lawrence, and also about Lawrence.

Lawrence's Headstone From Vence

D.H. Lawrence's headstone from Vence, in France, now at Eastwood Library


Further quotes about Lawrence by Professor Vivian de Sola Pinto, former Professor of English at Nottingham University:-

“He was very well educated in the tradition of provincial, nonconformist, working class culture, which is very different from the public school, Oxford and Cambridge culture, but just as important. He knew French, Latin, and German, and could have been a very scholarly man if he had so desired, as is shown by his brilliant ‘Studies in Classic American Literature.’ He knew the Bible backwards and in this respect, as in many others, was similar to Bunyan.”

“Lawrence was one of the greatest of English writers.” Professor Pinto says. “He was one of the great prophetic writers of English literature, ranking with Wordsworth or Blake, and much greater than Melville or Whitman."

Angelo Ravagli was then the lover of Lawrence's widow, and he was entrusted with the task of taking Lawrence's ashes, in the beautiful vase which Frieda had chosen, back to New Mexico.

Later, when back in New Mexico, and after drinking with his guests, the de Haulleville's, Ravagli confessed to throwing away Lawrence's ashes between Villefranche and Marseilles, before sailing on the 'Conde di Savoiain' to New York. This was to save him from the trouble, and expense, of shipping the ashes to the USA. He said that he had mailed the vase from Marseilles to New York, and then, after arriving in New York, put some local ashes in the vase, before taking the vase to Taos. He later had those ashes made into a concrete slab, which became Lawrence's shrine, at the Kiowa ranch, at San Cristobal, near Taos. So it seems that despite Frieda's wishes, and popular belief, DH Lawrence's remains were scattered across the fields of France, near to the Rhone river, to be dispersed around the world by the Mistral winds, which in retrospect, was probably more in keeping with Lawrence's philosophy.

The factual details on this site have been compiled from several sources, and the validity of this information cannot be guaranteed.

A well respected biographer of D. H. Lawrence is John Worthen, who was Professor of D.H. Lawrence Studies, at Nottingham University. Professor Worthen is also the director of the D.H. Lawrence Research Centre. One of his books, 'D. H. Lawrence : The Early Years 1885-1912', which was published in 1991, by the Cambridge University Press, is a 'must read' for anyone wanting to further their knowledge and understanding of Lawrence. His latest biography on Lawrence, 'D.H. Lawrence - The Life of an Outsider', was published in February 2005.

The D.H. Lawrence Statue : Nottingham University

The Lawrence Statue at Nottingham University


This excellent, life size bronze statue of Lawrence, sculptured by Diana Thomson FRBS, shows Lawrence holding a blue gentian flower, this flower was chosen from his poem 'Bavarian Gentians'. The statue stands in the Nottingham University grounds, and it can be found outside the Law and Social Sciences building. The statue was unveiled by members of the Lawrence family on the 18th. June 1994.

Please click on the following buttons for further pages.

 DH Lawrence Home Page Local images from the DH Lawrence area Eastwood- Birthplace of DH Lawrence Giltbrook - A village near DH Lawrences birthplace Durban House - DH Lawrence Centre Gavin button Poems button

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D.H. Lawrence Birthplace and Museum

The D.H. Lawrence birthplace, and museum, is situated at 8a Victoria Street, Eastwood, just off Nottingham Road, and only a few metres from Eastwood town center.

For opening times, admission charges, and further details, tel. 01773 717353 or click on the following text

DH Lawrence Museum


Local artist, Malcolm Parnham, has painted many local scenes, a selection of his paintings can be viewed by clicking on the following image from his collection.

Country Scene by Malcolm Parnham


 

Other items of local interest.

 

My Giltbrook Website

Details about where I now live, in Giltbrook near Eastwood, are on the following link :- My Giltbrook Site

Richard Beckinsale

To visit a website dedicated to Richard Beckinsale, and hosted by locally born actress Samantha Beckinsale, please click on the following link. Richard's first wife, Margaret Bradley, who is the mother of Samantha, has written a book about her life with Richard and is looking for a publisher, Margaret can be contacted through the Richard Beckinsale website.

Richard Beckinsale - http://www.RichardBeckinsale.co.uk

 

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in any other website, or publication, without written consent. Gavin Gillespie.