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 of Nottingham
Trevor Griffiths wrote the screenplay for the BBC’s acclaimed adaptation of SONS AND LOVERS, broadcast in 1981, with Eileen Atkins as Gertrude Morel and Tom Bell as her husband. It was filmed around Eastwood and Nottingham, with memorable scenes shot in Broadway in the Lace Market and Castle Gate. Curiously, the BBC never repeated the series, directed by Stuart Burge. But it makes compelling viewing to this day. Trevor Griffiths’ essay about filming the adaptation, and the challenges and frustrations it entailed, is published in the current issue of The Spokesman journal (www.spokesmanbooks.com).
Tony Simpson states:
Curiously, the BBC never repeated the series, directed by Stuart Burge. But it makes compelling viewing to this day.
So, where can one view this series? I have searched high and low in the US coming up with only the published script. I remember bits and pieces of it on PBS MASTERPIECE THEATRE but was otherwise too busy at the time to catch it in its entirety.
This was a terrific series, but for some reason the BBC has chosen not to publish it from their back catalogue, so it would need letter-writing and a campaign to get them to change their mind.
Try university libraries with TV archives on VHS tape, e.g. Royal Holloway may have a copy, which was made when the original series was broadcast.
Or the National Media Museum in Bradford, or the British Film Institute’s archive? Or ask a good university librarian who may be able to search nationally for VHS recordings.
However, if you do find a copy, copyright may prevent you from doing anything more than visiting the library and viewing on site. Or perhaps a case could be made to copy it for “educational purposes”, so a DVD could be added to a local college’s or Eastwood parish’s archive? Won’t hurt to ask. Most universities have an audio-visual department which could easily copy a video to DVD.
Further to my last message, I am advised the following by an extremely helpful librarian in Maryland sourced via http://www.peoplesnetwork.gov.uk. She searched Worldcat, the database that libraries around the world use for interlibrary loan, and found that a few VHS recordings do exist: in the UK at the University of the West of England, in Bristol, and the London Metropolitan University. There were also a couple of places in France and a few in the US and Canada. The OCLC number for inter-library loans is 21502904, but I think unlikely that these libraries would lend out such a rare copy.
The other problem is that the recordings appear to be in the archaic U-Matic format, and there’s no information about whether they are PAL, NTSC or SECAM. I would have thought it would be PAL in the UK and NTSC in the US, but very few people will have a U-matic player, so it’s probably a question of viewing on site at the libraries.
If it hasn’t been done already, some kind soul should invite these libraries to convert these tapes to DVD or Blu-ray or another high-quality format, before the last U-matic player in the world expires . . . I expect copyright permission will need to be sought from the BBC, unless universities have the right to make copies under agreements regarding fair use and for educational purposes.
Thank you, Antony, for all the research you have done here — it is very much appreciated! I live in Maryland and am glad to know that our helpful librarians are helpful the world over. Now that I am getting some time I will look into the Worldcat lead.
For those interested in reading the published teleplay, used copies can be found on the internet under the title “SONS AND LOVERS: Trevor Griffith’s Screenplay of the Novel by D.H. Lawrence”
One of the highlights of the series for me was hearing the authentic regional accents being used as opposed to a more homogenized and standardized theatrical British-speak. For a non-native it just added texture and depth to the presentation.
And, of course, who could go wrong with Eileen Atkins and Tom Bell as the parents?
Have you found anything? Please let me know whether or not you are still here as I need to speak with you.
Whoever monitors this thread has full permission from me to pass “Antony” my email address so that he and I can further converse.