George Lazarus Collection of literary papers and associated manuscripts, 1875-1996, in the D.H. Lawrence Collection

Scope and Content

The George Lazarus Collection of D.H. Lawrence literary manuscripts contains a rich and diverse core of autograph manuscripts and original letters, enhanced by a comprehensive range of related material, including photographs, ephemera and biographical papers. It is complemented by the George Lazarus library of published works in the Department's Special Collections, including first editions of the majority of Lawrence's works, together with periodical literature, foreign translations, works of literary criticism and biography.

Literary manuscripts comprise around fifty works of fiction and non-fiction. Pre-eminent is the holograph text of 'The White Peacock'. Manuscript, typescript and proof versions of various short stories and poems are also present, many demonstrating substantial variation from the published texts. Non-fiction and translations include the manuscript of the first eight and a half chapters of 'Movements in European History', bearing the title 'Landmarks in European History'. Also present is Frieda Lawrence's autograph transcript of the essay 'The Nightingale', and the manuscript of S.S. Koteliansky's translation of Leo Shestov's 'All Things Are Possible', which is entirely in the hand of Lawrence. The latest Lawrence item is a set of 155 proof sheets of 'Apocalypse', written shortly before Lawrence's death in 1930.

Original correspondence is a strength within the collection, which includes almost 160 autograph letters and cards to 27 correspondents, including Mary Cannan, wife of the writer Gilbert Cannon; Esmé Percy, who directed a production of 'The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd' in 1926; the bookseller and publisher Charles Lahr; Rolf Gardiner; Martin Secker and Richard Aldington. The largest group of letters was written to Emily King, D.H. Lawrence's sister, between 1924 and 1930.

In addition to letters from D.H. Lawrence, there are a number of letters concerning him between correspondents, such as Katherine Mansfield to Lady Glenavy, Violet Meynall to Martin Secker, Frieda Lawrence to Eric Gill and J. Middleton Murry to Gordon and Beatrice Campbell (Lord and Lady Glenavy).

Associated material was also collected by George Lazarus, and is richly varied, ranging from scripts and publicity material for television, radio and motion picture adaptations of Lawrence's works to a transcript of the 1960 prosecution of Penguin Books over the publication of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'. The visitor's book from an exhibition of paintings in Vence, 1931-32 and a catalogue from the Warren Gallery exhibition, famously raided by the police in 1929, give some reference to Lawrence as a painter whilst his student days are marked by a minute book from 'The Society for the Study of Social Reform, University College, Nottingham'. Newspaper cuttings, catalogues, theatre programmes, maps, drawings and photographs all provide additional illustration of Lawrence's life and work.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Louis Lazarus (1904-1997) was born in London, 15 March 1904. He attended Caius College, Cambridge 1922-1925, studying Modern Languages, and on graduation joined the family firm, Lazarus Brothers, jobbers on the London Stock Exchange. Lazarus, who was to become a collector of Imperial Jade, Dutch Painting and, most notably, modern rare books and manuscripts, began his book collecting as an undergraduate with the Forsythe stories of John Galsworthy.

His business commitments left Lazarus with little time to search personally for new material, and he engaged Bertram Rota, specialist book dealer, to locate books, manuscripts and associated papers of particular writers. He himself retained ultimate selection control, insisting that work in question should have given him personal satisfaction and that it was, in his judgement, of permanent literary merit.

By the mid-1950s Lazarus had amassed the works of some thirty authors, including John Forsythe, H.G. Wells, E.M. Forster, Somerset Maugham. Women writers were represented by Virginia Woolf, Constance Holme, Elizabeth Bowen and Mary Webb; Irish writers by Sean O'Casey, Frank O'Conner and Sean O'Faolain. He also acquired work of the Americans John Steinbeck and William Faulkner. In many cases, his decision to collect was made before the writers in question established their reputations. This was certainly true in the case of D.H. Lawrence, who became the focus of Lazarus's collecting. By the late 1950s, space constraints led him to begin disposing of works by other authors in order to concentrate exclusively on the pursuit of Lawrence and Lawrence related material.

George Lazarus was a pioneer in book collecting and his entire D.H. Lawrence collection, of which the manuscripts are described here, is exceptional in its comprehensive coverage. Further information about its development, and Lazarus as a collector, can be found in A. Rota, 'The George Lazarus Collection of Books and Manuscripts', in 'Renaissance and Modern Studies', 28 (1985). In the case of published works, he acquired a copy of the first printing of every title by Lawrence, as identified in the 'A' sequence of the Roberts bibliography (Warren Roberts, A Bibliography of D.H. Lawrence), alongside foreign translations of works, critical works and Lawrence biographies.

Of all his Lawrence acquisitions, the purchase in 1934 of the holograph manuscript of 'The White Peacock' was the most remarkable. This remains the only manuscript of a Lawrence novel in Britain. The early successes by Lazarus were evident when Lawrence Clark Powell in 1937 published 'The Manuscripts of D.H. Lawrence: A Descriptive Catalogue', showing several items marked as 'sold', already added to the Lazarus collection. Pursuit of Lawrence material continued until the 1990s and saw the addition of autograph poetry, short stories and non-fiction writings, alongside letters from D.H. Lawrence to a variety of correspondents, including his sister Emily.

Lazarus was always generous in supporting the research needs of Lawrence scholars, with advice and access to his private library. His first contact with the University of Nottingham came in the late 1950s through the then head of the English Department, Vivian de Sola Pinto. In 1960 Lazarus lent items for the D.H. Lawrence Exhibition held in the University's Fine Art Gallery and again, in 1985, allowed the loan of material for the Lawrence Centenary Exhibition. In 1980, Lazarus was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Nottingham.

George Lazarus died at Henley-on-Thames, 11 January 1997 leaving as his legacy a very extensive collection of published works, as well as the core collection of literary manuscripts and associated papers.


The collection has been arranged by type of material, with different series for categories such as literary manuscripts, correspondence, artistic works, biography, illustrative material, newsprint cuttings, local (Nottinghamshire) material, and George Lazarus personal papers. Listing within these categories follows partly by title of text, and partly by chronological order.

Access Information

Accessible to all registered readers. In most cases, use of surrogate copies is expected in the first instance.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

On the World Wide Web:

Catalogue available through the website of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue.

Custodial History

The Lazarus Collection was transferred to the University of Nottingham in July 1996. In the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections, it is now managed in two separate series: the manuscripts, which are described here, and the published works, which form a distinct part of the larger D.H. Lawrence Collection within the printed Special Collections.

Corporate Names