Lawrence on University College
In 'The Rainbow', Lawrence drew on his own memories for Ursula Brangwen's first impressions of University College. The portrayal of her subsequent rejection of the classroom also reflected his own experience.
The big college built of stone, standing in the quiet street, with a rim of grass and lime-trees all so peaceful: she felt it remote, a magic-land.
Lawrence, The Rainbow (1915)
Lawrence studied for his teacher's certificate at University College Nottingham, 1906-1908. For somebody so widely read, this did not bring much of an intellectual challenge. However, although critical of his classes and most of his teachers, he later admitted that he had gained maturity through the experience.
The years at College were fertile ones for his creative development. They gave him the opportunity to experiment with poetry, short stories and the first versions of his novel 'Laetitia' (later 'The White Peacock').
University College Nottingham, Shakespeare Street
Staff and students of University College Nottingham in about 1907
Lawrence (circled) is standing in front of the person who is second from the right in the back row.
The Trent Building, with its distinctive tower
Rolf Gardiner (1902-1971), whose report of Jesse Boot's new Trent Building at Highfields may have inspired Lawrence to verse, described this poem as "…an excellent bit of Lawrencian buffoonery, to be recited with gusto!"
'Nottingham's New University' in Pansies (1929)
In Nottingham, that dismal town
where I went to school and college,
they've built a new university
for a new dispensation of knowledge.
Built it most grand and cakeily
out of the noble loot
derived from shrewd cash-chemistry
by good Sir Jesse Boot.
Little I thought, when I was a lad
and turned my modest penny
over on Boot's Cash Chemist's counter,
that Jesse, by turning many
millions of similar honest pence
over, would make a pile
that would rise at last and blossom out
in grand and cakey style
into a university
where smart men would dispense
doses of smart cash-chemistry
in language of common-sense!
That future Nottingham lads would be
that Nottingham lights would rise and say:
-By Boots I am M.A.
From this I learn, though I knew it before
that culture has her roots
in the deep dung of cash, and lore
is a last off-shoot of Boots.
More: Drama and Performance
DH Lawrence at Nottingham home