D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), English novelist, story writer, critic, poet and painter, one of the greatest figures in 20th-century English literature. “Snake” and “How Beastly the Bourgeoisie is” are probably his most anthologized poems.
David Herbert Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, central England. He was the fourth child of a struggling coal miner who was a heavy drinker. His mother was a former schoolteacher, greatly superior in education to her husband. Lawrence’s childhood was dominated by poverty and friction between his parents. He was educated at Nottingham High School, to which he had won a scholarship. He worked as a clerk in a surgical appliance factory and then for four years as a pupil-teacher. After studies at Nottingham University, Lawrence matriculated at 22 and briefly pursued a teaching career. Lawrence’s mother died in 1910; he helped her die by giving her an overdose of sleeping medicine.
In 1909, a number of Lawrence’s poems were published by Ford Max Ford in the English Review. The appearance of his first novel, The White Peacock (1911), launched Lawrence into a writing career. In 1912 he met Frieda von Richthofen, the professor Ernest Weekly’s wife and fell in love with her. Frieda left her husband and three children, and they eloped to Bavaria. Lawrence’s novel Sons and Lovers appeared in 1913 and was based on his childhood . In 1914 Lawrence married Frieda von Richthofen, and traveled with her in several countries. Lawrence’s fourth novel, The Rainbow (1915), was about two sisters growing up in the north of England. Lawrence started to write The Lost Girl in Italy. He dropped the novel for some years and rewrote the story in an old Sicilian farmhouse near Taormina in 1920.
During the First World War Lawrence and his wife were unable to obtain passports and were targets of constant harassment from the authorities. They were accused of spying for the Germans and officially expelled from Cornwall in 1917. The Lawrences were not permitted to emigrate until 1919, when their years of wandering began.
Lawrence’s best known work is Lady Chatterly’s Lover, first published privately in Florence in 1928. It tells of the love affair between a wealthy, married woman, and a man who works on her husband’s estate. The book was banned for a time in both UK and the US as pornographic. Lawrence’s other novels from the 1920s include Women In Love (1920), a sequel to The Rainbow.
Aaron’s Rod (1922) shows the influence of Nietzsche, and in Kangaroo (1923) Lawrence expressed his own idea of a ‘superman’. The Plumed Serpent (1926) was a vivid evocation of Mexico and its ancient Aztec religion. The Man Who Died (1929), is a bold story of Christ’s Resurrection. Lawrence’s non-fiction works include Movements In European History(1921), Psychoanalysis And The Unconscious (1922) and Studies In Classic American Literature (1923).
D.H. Lawrence died in Vence, France on March 2, 1930. He also gained posthumous renown for his expressionistic paintings completed in the 1920s.