St. Mawr | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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D.H. Lawrence | Biography

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Birth and Education

David Herbert Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, an industrial coal-mining town in Nottinghamshire, England. The town's rural, industrial nature inspired the settings of many of his novels, and he specifically mentioned it in some of them.

Lawrence grew up in a household with a father who worked in a coal mine and with a well-educated, religious mother. He was often ill and didn't fit in with the other boys in school because he did not do well in sports. Lawrence had a hard time making friends even in high school and was depressed. His academic excellence in primary school won him a scholarship to Nottingham High School, but his depression and lack of friends affected his academics there. He graduated in 1901, and then attended University College, Nottingham, where he earned a teaching certificate.

Career and Marriage

Lawrence found his first job as a factory clerk when he left home at sixteen years old, but he became sick with pneumonia and had to quit. He met Jessie Chambers (1887–1944) during his recovery. She became his first romantic interest and encouraged him to write. Lawrence wrote his first novel The White Peacock (1911) and then enjoyed an extensive writing career. He produced multiple novels, short stories, essays, poems, and many other works.

Lawrence's early romantic relationships were unsteady. After a breakup with Chambers, he became engaged to Louie Burrows (1904–57). They parted ways as well. Lawrence married Frieda Weekley (1879–1946) in 1914. Weekley had three children from a previous marriage but none with Lawrence.

The theme of romantic uncertainty appears throughout Lawrence's work including in "St. Mawr" (1925). He included complex themes such as the nature of male-female relationships, introspection, emotional analysis, and the metaphysical reality of humans versus nature in "St Mawr". The story revolves around the thoughts and actions of its main character Lou, who is uncertain about the characteristics she wants in a man. Lou is drawn to a man's good looks and charisma but her infatuations do not last because she wants a more spiritual connection.

The novel Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928) made Lawrence especially famous. He began to write it in 1926 after "St. Mawr." The themes in Lady Chatterley's Lover are explicitly sexual and the book was the subject of an obscenity lawsuit. It was not published in the U.S. until 1959 because many at the time regarded it as pornographic. Lawrence explored the sexuality theme as a natural human response to the machine-dominated life in the industrial age.

Death and Legacy

Recurring illnesses caused Lawrence's health to deteriorate. He died at age 44 on March 2, 1930. Lawrence's candid portrayal of sexual themes separates his work from the more modest social norms of his time period. He was an early pioneer of a more relaxed style about sexual themes, and his work influenced subsequent writers.

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