The hills of Annesley, ‘bleak and barren’ to Byron after the marriage of Mary Chaworth in 1805, are now pleasantly wooded. The traveller on the M1 may notice them on one side, and on the other, to the southwest, catch glimpses of the country with which Lawrence was more familiar. From Annesley Hall, the home of Byron’s lost love, to Eastwood, the mining village where Lawrence was born on 11 September 1885, lie the principal settings for The White Peacock and Sons and Lovers. In December 1926 Lawrence described this landscape as the country of his heart. He associated it with happy farming activities and walks; less pleasurably, in retrospect, with his earliest love. Mary Chaworth rejected a young and oversensitive aristocrat; Lawrence, a miner’s son, caught in a tangle of feeling, complicated it further, and in the end renounced Jessie Chambers with little apparent compunction. With her he had experienced deep friendship, probably the greatest of his life.
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