Manuscripts and Special Collections

Drama and Performance

Lawrence's Preface to his play 'Touch and Go' sets out his vision for a theatre which answers the needs of the people, caught between the conflicting forces of Labour and Capitalism. 

"The essence of tragedy, which is creative crisis, is that a man should go through with his fate, and not dodge it and go bumping into an accident. And the whole business of life, at the great critical periods of mankind, is that men should accept and be one with their tragedy. Therefore we should open our hearts.

…we should have a People's Theatre. Perhaps it would help us in this hour of confusion better than anything."

Lawrence, Preface to Touch and Go (1919)

Cover of Lawrence's manuscript for 'Touch and Go'

Cover of Lawrence's manuscript for 'Touch and Go'.


Lawrence wrote eight full-length plays, only three of which were published in his lifetime. Their staging has been relatively rare.

In performance he is better known by the films of his novels. His rich use of dialogue and the dramatic strength of his story telling has encouraged adaptation of his short stories - so successfully that it has been claimed that Lawrence 'wrote television plays before television was invented'. (The Times, 7 June, 1967)

Theatre programmes, shots from productions, adapted scripts, advance notes and reviews have all become valuable sources for the study of changing perceptions of Lawrence and his core themes.  

More: Literature from Life

DH Lawrence at Nottingham home

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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