David Herbert Lawrence was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, the son of an uneducated coal miner and a refined, well-educated mother forced by necessity to do manual work in a lace factory. He was educated at a local primary school from where he won a scholarship to Nottingham High School but left at the age of sixteen. Between 1902 and 1906 he worked as a pupil teacher at the British School in Eastwood, studying at the same time for a teaching certificate at Nottingham University College, an external college of London University.
In 1907 he won a short story competition in the Nottinghamshire Guardian. The following year he moved to London and taught at a school in Croydon and wrote his first novel, The White Peacock, in 1910. In that same year he was devastated by the death of his mother to whom he had been very close. Around that time he gave up teaching to concentrate on writing and his second novel, The Trespasser, was published in 1911.
In 1912 he eloped to Germany with Frieda Weekley, an aristocratic German lady who was married with three children to his former languages professor at Nottingham University College. After honeymooning in Munich they crossed the Alps on foot to Italy where he completed one of his best known works, Sons and Lovers. In 1914 Frieda obtained a divorce and they were married. A few years later they moved back to England and settled in Cornwall but, probably because of Frieda’s nationality, were forced to leave under suspicion of spying for the Germans. Ironically, Lawrence had been accused of spying for the British during his time in Germany. Thereafter they travelled to various parts of the world including France, Australia, Mexico, and the US, where he bought a ranch in Taos, New Mexico. After contracting malaria he moved again to Italy in 1925 where he wrote The Virgin and the Gypsy and the infamous Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which was published privately in France and Italy. An abridged version of this novel was published in the US in 1928, reissued by Penguin Books in 1946, and the unexpurgated version published in 1960, which came the subject of a famous trial. He died from tuberculosis in France in 1930.
Lawrence’s novels were considered by the standards of the time to be pornographic as they challenged conventional ideas about sex and relationships. With the passage of time and increasingly liberal views of morality, however, many of them have become classics and he is now regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century. Although it is for his novels that he is best known, he wrote several plays and many fine poems, including The Snake, Bavarian Gentians, A Winter’s Tale, The Ship of Death and Mating, all of which display earthiness, originality, and spontaneity. Lawrence also had a lifelong interest in painting, some with scenes that were considered too shocking for public consumption and were confiscated by the authorities. It could be said that his work was as unconventional as his life.