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Lawrence, (D.H.) collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Biographical / Historical
  • The Phoenix...Is my Badge and Sign.
  • Scope and Contents
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: M0116
    Physical Description: 0.75 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1913-1973

    Biographical / Historical


    1885 born in Nottingham, England
    1911 The White Peacock
    1913 Sons and Lovers
    1914 married Frieda Von Richthofen (divorced wife of Ernest Weekly)
      The Windowing of Mrs. Holroyd, and David
    1916 wrote verse: Amores
    1923 Kangaroo.
    1926 The Plumed Serpent
    1928 Lady Chatterley's Lover
    1930 died

    Biographical / Historical

    Most of the Lawrence letters in the Stanford papers all those addressed to Lady Ottoline Morrell and Cecil Gray were written during the first world war, the worst years of Lawrence's life.
    In late May of 1914, in Italy, he had written through what was the first version of The Rainbow (this version contained material that would presently be split off for Women in Love). At about the same time Edward Weekley was granted the divorce from Frieda that he had so reluctantly sought. In early June Lawrence and Frieda arrived in London, where they were quictly married. They had not planned on a long stay in England, but with the outbreak of the war, they found themselves trapped there. Almost immediately, Lawrence's letters began to seethe with rage. At this point, not yet quite thirty years old, he grew his beard, as if to announce his role henceforth as angry prophet.
    They met many people and made a number of important friendships, among them those with Lady Ottoline, the eccentric patroness of artists, and Viola Meynell, the poet. At first they lived in a cottage on the Meynell estate, the setting for the story, England, my England, which of all Lawrence's fictions perhaps most effectively expresses his elegiac sense of his own country. With England dead, as he thought, he began to dream of a utopian colony of about twenty decent people. Presently he was addressing Lady Ottoline: I want you to form the nucleus of a new community which shall start a new life amongst us a life in which the only riches is integrity of character. But already his island idea it had a name now, Rananim, plucked out of a Hebrew chant that the translator, Koteliansky, another new friend, liked to sing-was changing. Lady Ottoline was bringing Bertrand Russell to meet him, and they say, the island shall be England, that we shall start our new community in the midst of this old one, as a seed falls among the roots of the parent. Lady Ottoline was planning to set up a cottage for the Lawrences on her Oxfordshire estate which would be the central cell.
    Russell would be a member. Middleton Murry would be another. In February, when Lawrence wrote Lady Ottoline, he said. Murry is here.... At present he is my partner-the only man who quite simply is with me. But everything was to fail, of course. The friendship with Russell changed almost at once into a mutually abusive affair that soon trailed off into nothing. The friendship with Murry was an up and down thing that at last also jogged into nothing: in his last letter to Murry. Lawrence said. We are a dissidence. And the colony was never to materialize.
    Long before he gave up his hopes for that idyllic scheme, Lawrence suffered his first really severe blow: in November of 1915, just two months after its publication, all copies of The Rainbow were destroyed by court order. The plans for Rananim had shifted to Florida and the Lawrences had been hoping to sail for America, but just now, when they at last obtained passports, it was rumored that The Society of Authors was to fight the ban on The Rainbow, and Lawrence decided that he should stay in England in the interest of his novel. Nothing came of this plan, the passports lapsed, the Lawrences drifted from borrowed house to borrowed house, and at last ended in Cornwall, in a cottage at Higher Tregerthen, near Zennor, where they were to stay for nearly two years.
    It was there that, in spite of many trying circumstances, Lawrence finished, along with a good deal of other writing, his second long novel, Women in Love. Probably his greatest book, it did not find a publisher until 1920: that was his most severe disappointment in these years. Hardly less outrageous in his view was the fact that not once but twice he was summoned to appear for a military physical examination: each time he was declared hopelessly unfit. (His account of these occasions appears in The Nightmare chapter of his novel, Kangaroo.) Friendships exploded or decayed; and in these years, even his marriage seems to have been gravely threatened. Finally, his cottage having been observed by suspicious neighbors, it was searched by the police and in October of 1917 the Lawrences were ordered off the coast as probable spies for the Germans.
    Beside this final event, at least, Lady Ottoline's threatened libel suit (she was the model of Hermione Roddice in Women in Love, and friends had told her so) must have seemed a minor nuisance. Having helped establish Cecil Gray in a Cornwall cottage, the Lawrences now lived for a time in his mother's flat in London. For two more years, then-years of heightened poverty, constant illness, a third military physical, police harrassment, marriage doldrums-they drifted from borrowed house to borrowed house. All the time Lawrence wrote, and always with little encouragement. When the volume of poems called Look! We Have Come Through! appeared, the Times Literary Supplement remarked that the Muse can only turn away her face in pained distaste. Still, he prepared two new volumes of verse and began his novel, Aaron's Rod. He agreed to write a school history text for the Oxford University Press and he wrote the essays that would be collected in the ultimately influential volume, Studies in Classic American Literature. Much of the time he was gravely ill. Where did his energy spring from, and all that energy, besides, that went into his constant rage?
    When the war was over at last, the rage did not subside. At a celebratory party, he was the one guest in a black prophetic mood. To David Garnett he said, I suppose you think the war is over and that we shall go back to the kind of world you lived in before it. But the War isn't over. The hate and evil is greater now than ever. As he pointed out in Aaron's Rod (1922), in some ways prophetic of Italian fascism just a few months before Mussolini's coup d'etat, the violence was released now into the general air, and there would be more of what he called the deluge of iron rain. Although the plans for Rananim had moved now to the slopes of the Andes, in November of 1919 Lawrence left for Italy, nine pounds in his pocket and black bile in his heart.
    The worst years were over, and surely they had been vexed and angry. But his rage was, after all, not a matter of self-pity. As Harry T. Moore has said, it had an impersonal quality....When he saw life being murdered, growth being stifled, his rage was not on behalf of himself, who was only a channel of rage, but on behalf of life and growth. It was Lawrence who, in the catastrophic year of 1914, said, I only want to know people who have the courage to live.

    The Phoenix...Is my Badge and Sign.

    A D.H. Lawrence exhibition, under the above title, opened on October 30th in the Albert M. Bender Room of the Stanford University Library. On that occasion Professor Mark Schorer, Department of English, the University of California, Berkeley, gave a lecture from which this keepsake text Lawrence in the War Years is excerpted.
    The title of the exhibition is a quotation from a letter written by Lawrence to Lady Ottoline Morrell at the end of February 1915 soon after they had met. Lady Ottoline was Lawrence's generous friend and patroness during the war years. The major portion of the Lawrence correspondence was given to Stanford by Mrs. Kate Felton Elkins of San Francisco. Mrs. Elkins presented the letters in October 1933 and in February 1936 to the Charlotte Ashley Felton Memorial Library of American and British literature which Mrs. Elkins had established at Stanford in 1929. Approximately one-third of the letters are written to Lady Ottoline. Another large group is written to Cecil Gray, the Scottish composer and writer who was Lawrence's friend and neighbor in Cornwall during World War I. A third group is addressed to Mrs. Maria Cristina Chambers who offered her help to Lawrence in his negotiations with American publishers.
    There are also letters in the collection written by Lawrence to Sir Philip Morrell, John Beresford, J. B. Pinker, Mrs. Helen Thomas, Douglas Goldring and Mrs. Goldring, Charles Wilson, Dorothy Yorke, P. R. Stephensen and Charles Lahr. In addition to the letters presented by Mrs. Elkins, four post cards were the gift of Mr. William L. Stewart, Jr., four letters were purchased and two were acquired from unknown sources. Some of the letters in the Felton Library were published in the London Magazine in February 1956 in an article by Professor Schorer entitled I Will Send Address: New Letters of D. H. Lawrence.
    The exhibition features a collection of letters, post cards and notes written by Lawrence, manuscripts of poetry which Lawrence wrote as a young man, the manuscript of his short story The Thimble and copies of those books by Lawrence which are mentioned in the correspondence. A water color sketch of the Villa Miranda near Florence where Lawrence lived intermittently from 1926 to 1928, was borrowed from the Special Collections Division of the University of California Library at Berkeley. Mr. Keith M. Sagar of Manchester, England, lent an interesting group of photographs of the Lawrences from his collection. The exhibition has been arranged and prepared, and the list of Lawrence correspondence compiled by Oswalda M. Deva. First Library Assistant in the Division of Special Collections.
    Julius P. Barclay, Chief Division of Special Collections

    Scope and Contents

    This material consists primarily of correspondence from D. H. Lawrence to Lady Ottoline Morrell, Cecil Gray, Mrs. Maria Christina Chambers and a few others. There are two letters by Frieda Lawrence to Lady Morrell. Most of the letters are original ALS but there are some 60 typescript copies of these, some in a separate bound volume (#2). A few of the typescripts are not from originals in our collection and the location of these is unknown. The subject matter of the correspondence is primarily personal describing visitors, usually prominent literary figures, and trips. There is some correspondence regarding the censorship of Lady Chatterley's Lover which shows Lawrence's reaction to it. There are a few holograph poems, a typed article and the trial and proof pages for the first and second editions of Lady Chatterley's Lover which is included. The material spans the period 1913-1929 with a number of undated items. There is no material for the years 1914 and 1920-26. A set of microfilm has been made of the entire correspondence.
    About 180 items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item] D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence Collection, M0116, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gifts and purchases from various sources, including Kate Felton Elkins.

    Conditions Governing Use

    While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Authors, English.
    British literature -- 20th century.