David Herbert Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, the fourth child and third son of a miner in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. Despite having grown up in a lower class home and without many friends, he has become the most frequently studied novelist of the twentieth century .
Lawrence started school extremely early at the age of four, only to be withdrawn for the next three years. This was much to his disadvantage socially. He had very few friends as a child. He preferred the company of his younger sister and her friends. At the age of thirteen, Lawrence received a scholarship to the Notthinghamshire High School. Despite the financial difficulty this put on his family, Lawrence studied diligently at school, and one again, made very few friends.
At fifteen, Lawrence had finished high school, he went to work at Haywoods, a surgical appliance manufacturer in Nottingham . There too he found it difficult to acquire any friends. The conditions in the factory did not help Lawrence with his health either. Within six months, he had already caught pneumonia. Lawrence had significant problems with his lungs during his lifetime . Two weeks after being born, he was diagnosed with Bronchitis.
After recovering from pneumonia, he went back to school as a student teacher. There, for the first time in his life, he made many friends. While a student teacher, he began to write. His early writings were private – he would only share them with one of his many female friends, Jessie Chambers, a fellow student teacher. When his first work was finally published, his name was not published with it. He had entered a literature contest using many of his friends’ names. He won £3 under the name Jessie Chambers.
In 1904, Lawrence took the exam for the King’s Scholarship which would have allowed him to earn his teaching certificate. He passed the test and ranked 37th out of two thousand . In 1906, he took a day position at Nottingham University College and earned his teaching certificate after two years of attending the college.
In 1908, Lawrence became a teacher at Davidson Road School. He impressed the Headmaster of the school by insisting that the students act out The Tempest rather than simply sit and read it. While teaching, he also began writing novels.
The White Peacock was Lawrence’s first novel, published in January 1911. Soon after its release, he again contracted pneumonia and was forced to end his short teaching career under doctor’s orders. His lungs had received lots of damage.
Lawrence took up a position at a German college as a Lektor, but when he left he found that he became the lover of Frieda Weekly, wife to the professor of modern languages at the college, Ernest Weekly. When Mr. Weekly found out about his wife’s actions, he sent both Lawrence and Mrs. Weekly many letters threatening them, and he completely restricted her access to her children.
Immediately, David and Frieda traveled, mostly by foot, to Italy by way of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. During the journey, Lawrence wrote and revised his most renowned work, Sons and Lovers. It was based on his childhood as the sensitive young man in a mining environment through emotional turmoil in his relations with a sweetheart and his possessive mother, whose death liberates him .
Lawrence had a passion for ammusement, and one of his favorite amusements were charades. He would perform energetic impersonations of wild characters. Frieda once said, "I hadn’t lived before I lived with Lawrence."
In May 1913, Sons and Lovers was published in Britain. It did not sell extremely well, and Lawrence was faced with the possibility of needing to return to teaching. To keep the couple going, he continued publishing countless short stories, essays, and poems. They returned to England for a short time to try and reestablish contact with Frieda’s children. They were denied access and soon returned to Europe.
Frieda officially divorced Ernest Weekly in 1914. Later that year, she and David were married in London. They planned to return to Italy, but they were unable to due to the outbreak of World War I shortly after their wedding. During the next five years in England, Lawrence wrote and published The Rainbow, which was banned in England. The income it did generate was not enough to live off of, however.
Despite the failure of many of Lawrence’s writings, he has remained one of the most important figures in modern literature. The most significant reason that he has become so outstanding lies in his choice of subject matter. During a time where authors would not scratch the surface of such taboo subjects as sex, pornography, love, and lust, Lawrence was writing almost entirely within the confines of this genera. Books such as Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Women in Love, and Sons and Lovers as well as essays such as Pornography and Obscenity reveal his attraction to the subject matter.
David and Frieda moved to Cornwall in 1915. As the war intensified, hatred toward the Germans grew with it. Because Frieda was German, many people began to despise Lawrence, and on October 11, 1917 they were ordered to leave the country by the 15th of October that year. Lawrence set sail for Australia.
In 1924, Lawrence made a brief return to Europe, and he finally left North America in September 1925, six months after being diagnosed with tuberculosis. From 1925 to 1928 he lived in Italy. In 1928 he moved to Vence, France, where he died on March 2, 1930.