DH Lawrence Timeline
Use our interactive timeline to trace the history of one of the 20th century's greatest writers, from his humble beginnings in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, to his death in France in 1930.
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1885 to 1901 - An Unremarkable Beginning
DH Lawrence as a young boy
David Herbert Lawrence was born to Arthur and Lydia in the mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, on 11 September 1885. A sickly child who was bullied at school, he won a scholarship to Nottingham High School but failed to distinguish himself. With few friends and nothing to mark him out for the creativity that was to come, Lawrence began work for a surgical appliances manufacturer in Nottingham.
1902 to 1908 - The Writer Starts to Bloom
On his 21st birthday, 1906
Following the death of his older brother William, Lawrence attracted the full attention of his former schoolmistress mother. She encouraged him to become a pupil-teacher at the local school. It was also at this time he became friends with the Chambers family and in particular one of the daughters, Jessie, a future lover and intellectual companion. In 1906 he became a student teacher at the University College Nottingham and spent much of his time writing in earnest. It was at this time he published his first short story.
1908 to 1912 - Literary Breakthrough & Personal Tragedy
Lydia Lawrence as
an old woman
Following university, Lawrence left Eastwood for a teaching post in Croydon. Although he found it demanding, he proved to be an energetic and enthusiastic teacher. In the summer of 1909, he had a breakthrough when his poems were published in the English Review. The editor also met Lawrence and read his manuscript of The White Peacock, which was recommended to a publisher.
On a sadder note, his mother Lydia fell ill and died in December 1910. He became engaged to an old college friend, Louie Burrows, shortly after.
1912 to 1914 - A New Love
Following a lengthy illness, Lawrence resigned his teaching post and returned to Nottinghamshire where he sought advice from his former professor, Ernest Weekley. However, Lawrence fell in love with Weekley’s wife, Frieda, and the two left to live in Germany. Over the next couple of years, the pair travelled around Germany, Italy, England and Switzerland, while Lawrence became increasingly successful as a writer.
1914 to 1918 - Under Attack
After marrying Frieda Weekley in London in 1914, Lawrence had intended to move with her to Italy but the war got in the way, making travel impossible. They lived in Buckinghamshire, where Lawrence worked on his Study of Thomas Hardy before revising his latest novel, the first part of which he turned into The Rainbow. Reviews were savage and his reputation was damaged. He moved to Cornwall, but the locals were suspicious of a controversial writer living with a German wife so close to the coast.
1919 to 1922 - A Brush with Death Brings New Life
Never far from illness, Lawrence almost succumbed to the influenza outbreak of 1919. Although he pulled through, it killed off his relationship with England and he left for Italy. In 1920 he had a very brief affair with Rosalind Baynes, which he touched upon in some of his poetry. That year also saw the publication of Women in Love, while 1921 saw him revise all his stories of the war years to create the collection England, My England.
1922 to 1924 - Around the World
Frieda and Lawrence
in Mexico, 1923
After travelling through southern Europe to Sardinia, Lawrence was determined to fulfil his ambition of moving to America. Frieda and he first went to Ceylon, but it proved uncomfortable and he wrote little. Then it was on to Australia before landing in the USA. They settled at Taos, New Mexico, where they were exposed to Native American culture. During this period several pieces of work were published, including Aaron’s Rod and Studies in Classic American Literature.
1924 to 1926 - More Illness
With Frieda on board SS
Lawrence travelled to Mexico, where he wanted to complete The Plumed Serpent. As soon as it was finished, he was desperately ill again, this time with typhoid, pneumonia and then tuberculosis. Again he recovered and finished his last play, David. Lawrence’s father Arthur passed away in 1924 and a brief trip to England inspired Lawrence to start Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
1927 to 1928 - A Final Burst of Creativity
Sitting under the olive tree
at Villa Mirenda, Florence
Although Lawrence called New Mexico one of his greatest experiences, he and Frieda were limited in how long they could stay there and it wasn’t long before they were back in Italy. Perhaps his most (in)famous novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, was finished in one of the writer’s final creative bursts. It was attacked for its sexual content and later banned. However, he was once again becoming ill and left Florence in 1928.
1928 to 1930 - The End of the Adventure
Lawrence was no longer writing fiction and was irked at the fact that Lady Chatterley’s Lover was being extensively pirated throughout Europe. It also frustrated him that an exhibition of his paintings was seized by police and he was desperate to look for a place where his health would improve. He wrote his last book, Apocalypse, and at the start of 1930 checked into a sanatorium in Vence, France. He discharged himself shortly afterwards and passed away aged 44 on Sunday 2 March 1930.
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