Accolade for DH Lawrence collection

14 Mar 2008 09:32:00.000

The University of Nottingham’s DH Lawrence Collection is of ‘outstanding international importance’, according to a prestigious new award.

The University of Nottingham’s DH Lawrence Collection is of ‘outstanding international importance’, according to a prestigious new award.

The Collection, the biggest archive of material relating to the famous Nottinghamshire-born author, has been given ‘Designated’ status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to acknowledge its significance and quality.

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The Designation scheme recognises museum, library and archive collections that are of outstanding international importance. The Collection, held in The University of Nottingham’s Manuscripts and Special Collections on its King's Meadow Campus, is one of only 100 or so across the whole country that have been awarded this prestigious status.


The Collection comprehensively covers the work of DH Lawrence and responses to it, and is particularly strong in original material relating to the writer’s native Nottinghamshire. The Collection clearly demonstrates the significant cultural impact of Lawrence on the latter half of 20th century, including on the publishing industry. It also demonstrates the status of the man, himself a graduate of Nottingham University College, as a figure of both national and international importance.


The Lawrence Collection at The University of Nottingham's King's Meadow Campus is one of just three in the UK to be recognised in the latest awards round by the MLA.


Roy Clare, MLA Chief Executive, said: “These collections are among the best in the country and the Designated status marks this quality. Designation not only raises the profile of outstanding collections such as these, but allows the sector to improve standards by providing high quality services for visitors, sharing advice and expertise among institutions and lending objects to enhance access.”


The strength of the Lawrence Collection is evident from three different perspectives. First, it offers a rich representation of Lawrence’s work in all genres: novel, short stories, poetry, biography, travel writing, critical essays, correspondence and even artworks.  The collection is backed up extensively by manuscripts, correspondence and secondary literature concerning Lawrence’s wider family and literary circle and later generations influenced by him.


These unique materials bring scholars and visitors from all over the world and support both an active local programme of events — from exhibitions to talks at the University’s DH Lawrence Research Centre — and teaching/postgraduate programmes.


The second strand of the case for Designation was the local, national and international importance of Lawrence as an iconic figure. His name, and that of his most famous work, Lady Chatterley, has become a shorthand for reference to some of the most important issues in 20th century culture, particularly the liberalisation of attitudes towards sex in literature and the issue of censorship.


The Collection’s resources on the Penguin Lady Chatterley trial of 1960 in themselves are a hugely important resource, and the subject of a current research project at the University.  But Lawrence is significant for a far wider range of interests than this, and the Collection draws researchers from many disciplines: from law, music and art history to philosophy, psychology and human geography.


A third angle of interest, which has become increasingly important, is the regional significance of Lawrence as a Midlands writer. The Collection is particularly rich in early Nottinghamshire material, covering the period when Lawrence was himself a student at Nottingham University College, including his university record. The exhibition in the University’s Weston Gallery in summer 2007 ᏻ— Lawrence Among the Women — focused particularly on his early years and the contacts between the women so important in his life: mother, sisters, girlfriends, student friends, wife and so on, whose images and letters are in the archive. Lawrence’s writings about his native Nottinghamshire are now a vivid record of a community and a mining industry which has passed.


The University’s awareness of its significance for Lawrence heritage has long been recognized. A University Lawrence website sits on the University homepage at: http://www.dh-lawrence.org.uk/


Chris Pressler, Director of Research and Learning Resources at The University of Nottingham, said: “DH Lawrence is recognised as one of the greatest literary minds of the 20th Century, and also led one of the most remarkable of lives. He was never far from controversy.


“The University of Nottingham is privileged to hold the Lawrence Collection, which draws readers from all over the world, and we are genuinely thrilled to receive the distinction of national designation. The award adds additional status to the University's world-class manuscripts and rare book collections.”


This award marks the second occasion when the MLA has recognized the outstanding value of the University’s collections. In October 2005, Designation status was awarded to the Portland of Welbeck, Portland (London) and Newcastle of Clumber family, estate, political and literary papers, stretching from the 12th to the 20th centuries. The only other archive in the East Midlands which has been recognised by the MLA — in a previous award round — is that of the Lincoln Episcopal Rolls and Registers at the Lincolnshire Archives.


The other two UK collections to receive Designated status in the latest round of MLA awards were

the Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture’s Silver Studio collection, and the Egyptology and Chinese collections held by Durham University Oriental Museum.


More details of Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham are at:



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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THES) World University Rankings.


It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation – School of Pharmacy).


Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for three years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.


Story credits

More information is available from Dr Dorothy Johnston, Manuscripts and Special Collections, University of Nottingham,  on +44 (0)115 9514563, Dorothy.johnston@nottingham.ac.u

Andrew Burden

Andrew Burden - Digital Communications Manager

Email: andrew.burden@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8313 Location: University Park

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