DH Lawrence

May 15, 2013, by Emma Thorne

DH Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers: A Centenary Celebration

May 2013 marks 100 years since the publication of Sons and Lovers, DH Lawrence’s most autobiographical novel. Dr Andrew Harrison and Annalise Grice from the School of English look ahead to a guest lecture to celebrate the centenary.

A public lecture by Professor Neil Roberts will be held at the University of Nottingham at 7pm on Wednesday 29 May 2013 to celebrate the centenary of the publication of DH Lawrence’s third novel, Sons and Lovers.

The novel was first published in England by Duckworth on 29 May 1913. Although it made Lawrence relatively little money, it was generally well received by reviewers and the reading public alike: a review in the London Standard the day after its publication suggested that this was the novel in which Lawrence had come to ‘full maturity as a writer’. The twenty-seven year-old author had already expressed pride in it. In a letter dated 19 May 1913 he wrote to his literary advisor and editor Edward Garnett to tell him about the arrival of his advance copy: ‘Sons and Lovers has just come – I am fearfully proud of it. I reckon it is quite a great book. I shall not write quite in that style any more. It’s the end of my youthful period’.

Sons and Lovers is Lawrence’s most autobiographical novel; it contains a detailed and sustained description of his upbringing and early life in the Nottinghamshire village of Eastwood (now a town). While working on it Lawrence followed the advice of his first literary mentor, Ford Madox Hueffer, who encouraged him to write about working-class life from his unique position ‘inside’ the community. Garnett later wrote that the novel was the only one ‘of any breadth of vision in contemporary English fiction that lifts working-class life out of middle-class hands, and restores it to its native atmosphere of hard veracity’. Lawrence constructs an authentic depiction of the mining community, commemorates the beauty of the local countryside, and creates distinctive characters with genuine psychological depth. He presents fully-realised familial and erotic relationships and poses far-reaching questions concerning class, gender and sexual relations. One of its pioneering, but still controversial aspects is its portrayal of the potentially damaging effects of maternal love and its influence on a man’s ability to form mature sexual relationships. The enduring importance of the issues raised in the novel underwrites its continuing appeal for academics and general readers around the world.

Professor Neil Roberts, the guest speaker, is Emeritus Professor at the University of Sheffield, and an Honorary Professor at The University of Nottingham associated with its DH Lawrence Research Centre. He has published numerous essays on Lawrence, and is the author of DH Lawrence, Travel and Cultural Difference (2004). In addition to his work on Lawrence, he has published influential studies of the poets Ted Hughes and Peter Redgrove. His most recent book is a biography of Redgrove: A Lucid Dreamer (2012). Professor Roberts’s lecture will offer a fresh perspective on the novel as it reaches its one hundredth year of publication.

Everyone is welcome to attend the lecture, details of which are provided below. The event will be followed by a wine reception. All those who wish to attend are requested to fill out and submit the online RSVP to assist with catering requirements: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/english/intranet/rsvp.html

Wednesday 29 May 2013, 7pm
Sir Clive Granger Building Room A48
University Park
University of Nottingham


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