Papers of J.D. Chambers, 1876-1986, in the D.H. Lawrence Collection

Scope and Content

Although the Chambers papers are largely concerned with later research into the life of D.H. Lawrence and production of his works, they include several original Lawrence items. An algebra text book from his school days is annotated in his hand, and a pencil drawing of 'Child with an apple' is signed by him. Other early pieces include a copy of Jessie Chambers' short story 'The bankrupt', with revisions by Helen Corke. Several Corke letters are present, mainly post-1950 to David Chambers, and one letter from Aldous Huxley to Chambers in 1931.

Significant personal accounts of Lawrence survive in a 1970 script of the 1949 radio talk by W.E. Hopkin on his Eastwood memories of the young writer, and in a tape recording of the lecture on Lawrence which David Chambers gave on many occasions. T.V. rehearsal scripts for two 1960s adaptations of Lawrence works are also present. The collection also contains two series of photographic materials, one consisting of transparencies of local places associated with Lawrence (1950s), and the other containing Chambers family black and white photographs.

A later accrual contains papers of or relating to Muriel May Holbrook, a sister of David Chambers. These include a few letters, and a number of typescript and holograph short stories by Muriel Holbrook. The material complements that found within the Holbrook group in the Lawrence Collection (La H).

The collection includes copies acquired by Chambers of a series of letters from Jessie Chambers to Professor W. Lutoslawski, of which the originals are at the Humanities Research Centre, University of Texas.

Administrative / Biographical History

Jonathan David Chambers (1898-1970) grew up at Haggs Farm, Underwood, near Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. D.H. Lawrence became friendly with the Chambers family as a boy, and particularly with Jessie Chambers (later Wood) who served as the prototype for 'Miriam' in his novel 'Sons and Lovers'. When Lawrence met Frieda Weekley and subsequently moved abroad, his close link with the family weakened, but a letter of 1928 to J.D. Chambers testifies to his continuing affection for Haggs Farm, the country around it, and the Chambers family.

J.D. Chambers became Professor of History at University College Nottingham and a figure of considerable influence in the study of the local history of Nottinghamshire. He played an important role in the steady development of interest in Lawrence at the University. In particular, he supported his colleague Professor Vivian de Sola Pinto in the 1950s in efforts to collect Lawrence material for the University of Nottingham Library.


The material is listed in a single numerical sequence, in which various series (correspondence, photographs etc.) are brought together. This arrangement is disturbed by later accruals, which continue the numerical sequence.

Access Information

Accessible to all registered readers. Readers are, in most cases, expected to use surrogate copies.

Other Finding Aids

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

In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus:

Typescript Catalogue, 4 pp

At the National Register of Archives, London:

Typescript Catalogue, 4 pp

On the World Wide Web:

Catalogue available through the website of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue. This electronic catalogue supersedes, and is more detailed than the typescript catalogues, and users are advised to refer to the online catalogue in preference to the printed versions.

Custodial History

The papers of Professor Chambers came to the Library after his death in 1970. Those concerning his academic research into economic and local history (Ch) were separated from the present collection, which comprises material about the Chambers family and D.H. Lawrence. Further accruals from the Chambers family have extended the original holding.

Geographical Names