Manuscripts and Special Collections

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 in Shakespeare Street
University College Nottingham, Shakespeare Street

Staff and students of University College Nottingham 1907

Staff and students of University College Nottingham in about 1907

Detail of the previous photograph, showing a young Lawrence

Lawrence (circled) is standing in front of the person who is second from the right in the back row.


Photograph of the Trent Building at University Park campus

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

cash-chemically B.Sc.

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

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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