100 years of Sons and Lovers

Famed Nottinghamshire author DH Lawrence
15 May 2013 11:46:30.283
PA 163/13

In May 1913, a 27-year-old DH Lawrence received an advance copy of his third novel and wrote to his literary advisor and editor Edward Garnett expressing his pride in it: “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.”

Now, the enduring appeal of the celebrated Nottinghamshire author’s most autobiographical novel is to be marked by The University of Nottingham exactly 100 years to the day after its first UK publication.

Respected Lawrence scholar Professor Neil Roberts, an Honorary Professor in the University’s School of English and Emeritus Professor at The University of Sheffield, will provide a fresh perspective on Sons and Lovers as it reaches its centenary with a public lecture entitled Sons and Lovers and Jessie Chambers: Art and Integrity.
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Dr Andrew Harrison, Director of the University’s DH Lawrence Research Centre in the School of English, said: “It is wholly fitting that there should be a centenary celebration of Sons and Lovers at the University where he studied, in the very area which the novel recreates in such loving detail. We are delighted to welcome Professor Roberts as our guest speaker and we hope that members of the local community, and anyone interested in Lawrence, will join us on the evening”.

'Full maturity' 

Sons and Lovers 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 novel contains a detailed and sustained description of his upbringing and early life in the Nottinghamshire village of Eastwood — today 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. Edward 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.’

One of the novel’s 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.


Dr Harrison added: “Sons and Lovers contains an authentic depiction of the mining community, commemorates the beauty of the local countryside, and introduces us to distinctive characters with genuine psychological depth. It presents fully-realised familial and erotic relationships and poses far-reaching questions concerning class, gender and sexual relations”.

Professor Neil Roberts 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).

His lecture will take place on Wednesday 29 May at 7pm in the Sir Clive Granger Building, Room A48 on University Park campus. The lecture, and following wine reception, are open to the public but those wishing to attend are asked to book online at www.nottingham.ac.uk/english/intranet/rsvp.html or by contacting Tracy-Ann Stead on 0115 951 5906.

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Story credits

More information is available from Dr Andrew Harrison on +44 (0)115 846 6456, andrew.harrison@nottingham.ac.uk

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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