The D.H. Lawrence Letter Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The D.H.Lawrence correspondence comprises 20 autograph letters to Blanche Jennings of Liverpool, together with four poems enclosed with one of the letters. The poems are entitled Ten Months Old, A Winter's Tale, Cherry Robbers and Renaissance. The letters are all personal and include comment on Laetita (later The White Peacock), his time at teacher training college and move to Croydon and discussion of other writers.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Herbert Lawrence was born on 11 September 1885 and spent his early years in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. Receiving his teaching certificate from University College Nottingham in 1908, he moved in October to take up a teaching post as assistant master at the Davidson School, Croydon.

His first significant break into print came in November 1909 when some of his poems appeared in the English Review (edited by Ford Madox Hueffer). His career as a professional author now began in earnest, although he would teach for a further year. In December he made his first appearances in London Literary Society, introduced by Hueffer, and in January Heinemann accepted his Laetitia (now The White Peacock) manuscript. In 1911 he revised Paul Morel, the first sketch of what was to become Sons and Lovers (1913), widely acknowledged to represent a vivid portrait of the realities of working-class provincial life.

In March 1912 he met Frieda Weekley, the woman with whom he was to spend the rest of his life and they were married in July 1914. At the onset of war, Frieda's German parentage and Lawrence's open contempt for militarism meant the couple were viewed with suspicion and they lived in near destitution. The Rainbow (1915) was suppressed after an investigation into its alleged obscenity and its sequel Women in Love (1920) was finished in this period. Late in 1917, after constant harassment by the military authorities, Lawrence was forced to leave Cornwall at three days notice under the terms of the Defence of the Realm Act.

After the traumatic experience of the war years, Lawrence began what he termed his "savage pilgrimage", a time of voluntary exile. Except for brief visits he would spend the rest of his life travelling - in Italy, Ceylon, North America and France. He continued to write and in 1928 Lady Chatterley's Lover was published privately, this, his last major novel, reinforcing his notoriety.

When he died in France in 1930, aged 44, most obituaries were unsympathetic, ill-informed or hostile. The exceptions were E. M. Forster, Aldous Huxley (a friend who gave a robust defence) and the Cambridge literary critic F. R. Leavis who argued he had made an outstanding contribution to the tradition of English fiction. The Lady Chatterley Trial of 1962 ensured his popularity and notoriety with a wider public and D. H. Lawrence is now regarded as one of the most important, prolific and controversial English writers of the twentieth century.

Arrangement

The letters are arranged into chronological order. The four poems have been maintained in their original order with letter 16.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to bona fide researchers. Readers must make an appointment in advance of any visit.

Acquisition Information

The D.H. Lawrence Letters were bought from Miss Ellaline Jennings in 1960

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available for consultation in the reading room in the Literary Manuscripts folder.

Alternative Form Available

The text of both letters and poems is published in The Cambridge Edition of the Letters and Works of D.H. Lawrence, vol.1 (Cambridge, 1979) nos. 44, 47-9, 51, 53, 55, 60, 67, 73, 76, 82, 90-2, 95 (with poems), 102, 107, 128, 145.

The full text of the letters only are in The Collected letters of D.H. Lawrence, vol. 1, ed. H.T. Moore (London, 1962) pp. 4-61.

Archivist's Note

A collection level description was created for the Archives Hub in December 2003  by Roy Lumb using Xemacs Open Soure Text Editor. This item level list was created in May 2006 by Hayley Thomas.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and licensing rules available on request.

Custodial History

The letters were in the custody of Ellaline Jennings prior to their purchase by the University of Liverpool Library.

Accruals

There are no anticipated accruals.

Related Material

Nottingham University Library, Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections holds correspondence, papers and literary manuscripts.

Nottinghamshire Archives holds correspondence and letters.

Birmingham University Information Services, Special Collections holds letters to F. and J. Brett Young, 1919-21.

The British Library, Manuscript Collection holds D. H. Lawrence correspondence with the Society of Authors (1915-28) and letters to SS Koteliansky.

Cambridge University King's College Archive Centre holds letters from D.H. Lawrence to E.M. Forster, 1915-24, reference King's/PP/EMF/18/311.

The Tate Gallery Archive holds letters to Anita Brackenbury, 1915-16.

The University Of California, Berkeley holds correspondence, literary manuscripts and papers from ca. 1906-29 in the Bancroft Library.

The University of Cincinnati holds papers from 1924-30.

The University of Colombia, Rare Books and Manuscripts Library holds correspondence and literary manuscripts from 1918-29.

Harvard University: Houghton Library holds correspondence with Amy Lowell and literary manuscripts from 1923-28.

The University of Texas at Austin: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library holds a D. H. Lawrence art collection, correspondence and the papers of Frieda Lawrence.

Stanford University Library, Special Collections holds correspondence, literary manuscripts and papers for the years 1913-29.

Yale University Library: Beinecke Library holds correspondence, literary manuscripts and notebooks.

The following institutions also hold D. H. Lawrence literary papers:

Bibliography

Lawrence, David Herbert (1885-1930), The letters of D.H. Lawrence, (Cambridge University Press, 1979) , vol.1

Moore, H.T, The collected letters of D.H. Lawrence, (Heinemann, London 1962)  vol. 1.