Lady Chatterley's Lover
Nottinghamshire legends: DH Lawrence
What was Lawrence's legacy to Nottinghamshire, the place he called "the country of my heart"? DH Lawrence expert Ben Woolhead tells all.
Profile: Ben Woolhead
Originally from the North-east, Ben is currently studying for a PHD on DH Lawrence at the University of Nottingham. He also writes a weblog called Silent Words Speak Loudest.
2005 marked the 75th anniversary of the death of one of Nottingham's most famous sons, DH Lawrence.
The Eastwood-born author labelled a "weird old beardie" by Philip Larkin has never failed to polarise opinion, alternately championed and demonised.
In the 1960s Lawrence was celebrated as the self-professed "priest of love" and acclaimed as an astute critic of the deadeningly mechanical nature of modern life.
Censored and ridiculed
But during his lifetime he was censored and ridiculed for his views, and since his death has been crudely caricatured as both a misogynist and a fascist.
Sean Bean (naked behind not shown)
Unfashionable in academic circles and absent from English syllabuses he may be, but Lawrence nevertheless remains a prominent literary figure in the popular consciousness.
Mention his name and for many people it immediately conjures up an image – whether of the author of such complex masterpieces as ‘Women in Love', or merely of Sean Bean's naked behind from Ken Russell’s 1993 television adaptation of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.
Just as estimations of Lawrence and his writings have fluctuated, so did his emotions about Nottinghamshire.
The son of a miner, Lawrence always felt peripheral to and alienated from the middle-class literary culture of his day and could never forget his roots.
His fictional portraits of the squalor and ugliness of the region’s mining villages stand in stark contrast to the warm-hearted representations of the tight-knit pit communities which inhabited them and of the surrounding countryside in such works as ‘Sons and Lovers’ and lesser-known stories like ‘Strike-Pay’.
'The country of my heart'
Even though Lawrence left the East Midlands in 1913, only going back infrequently and briefly until his death in 1930, he returned imaginatively to "the country of my heart" on numerous occasions, most notably for the setting of his final novel, 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.
Fiercely intellectual, intensely passionate, rapier-witted but often cantankerous, Lawrence should also be remembered as a local historian, the foremost chronicler of Nottinghamshire in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Museums might go some way towards giving us access to the region's past, but Lawrence's books really bring it to life.
Find out more about the region's legends on BBC East Midlands Today, from 18:30 on BBC 1 every weekday.
last updated: 02/04/2009 at 12:21
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Is DH Lawrence's work still relevant in the 21st century? What is his legacy to Notts?