Lawrence as Fictional Character

  • Maurice Beebe


No author since Byron has been depicted in fiction more often than D. H. Lawrence. What we think of as the Lawrence Legend probably owes as much to the peripheral literature that has grown up around his name as to his own writings. Just as his carelessness over copyright made some of his works fair game for unscrupulous publishers, Lawrence himself seems to have entered the realm of public domain. James Thurber’s amusing spoof, ‘My Memories of D. H. Lawrence’ (1937), in which none of the recollections has any validity whatsoever, implies that some of the many memoirs of Lawrence that appeared after his death are fanciful and exaggerated enough to be considered at least partially as works of fiction. Lawrence compounded the difficulties of separating truth from fabrication by including distorted self-portraits in many of his novels and stories, and by collaborating imaginatively as well as literally with people who shared his experiences. Samuel Roth wrote anonymous sequels to Lady Chatterleys Lover, and J. I. M. Stewart includes in one of his recent novels a short poem, a ‘pensiero di D. H. Lawrence’, that reads as follows:

Lost to a world in which I crave no part, I sit alone and commune with my heart: Pleased with my little corner of the earth, Glad that I came, not sorry to depart.1


Fictional Character Passionate Nature Neutral Ground Similar Scene Young American Woman 
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  1. 1.
    J. I. M. Stewart, Young Pattullo (Boston: Little, Brown, 1974) pp. 304, 310.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The Collected Letters of D. H. Lawrence, ed. Harry T. Moore (New York: Viking, 1962) p. 1096.Google Scholar
  3. See also Lawrence’s verses ‘I Am in a Novel’ in The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence, ed. Vivian de Sola Pinto and Warren Roberts (New York: Viking, 1964) p. 489.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Letters of Aldous Huxley, ed. Grover Smith (New York: Harper & Row, 1969) p. 340. References to this book are made in the text as Letters.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Aldous Huxley, Two or Three Graces and Other Stories (George H. Doran, 1926) p. 148. References to this book are made in the text as TTG.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    George Woodcock, Dawn and the Darkest Hour: a Study of Aldous Huxley (New York: Viking, 1972) pp. 131–6.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    There are a considerable number of studies that trace the Huxley—Lawrence connection. Among the better ones are: Pierre Vitoux, ‘Aldous Huxley and D. H. Lawrence: an Attempt at Intellectual Sympathy’, Modern Language Review, LXIX (July 1974) pp. 501–22;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Joseph Goldridge Bentley, ‘Aldous Huxley’s Ambivalent Responses to the Ideas of D. H. Lawrence’, Twentieth-Century Literature, XIII (Spring 1935) pp. 96–108; andGoogle Scholar
  9. Jerome Meckier, Aldous Huxley: Satire and Structure (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969) pp. 78–123.Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    Peter Firchow, ‘Wells and Lawrence in Huxley’s Brave New World’, Journal of Modern Literature, v (April 1976) pp. 260–78.Google Scholar
  11. See also John Hawley Roberts, ‘Huxley and Lawrence’, Virginia Quarterly Review, XIII (Autumn 1937) pp. 546–57.Google Scholar
  12. 8.
    Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point (London: Chatto & Windus, 1928) p. 270. References to this book are made in the text as PCP.Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    Helen Corke, Neutral Ground (London: Arthur Barker, 1933) p. 192. References to this book are made in the text as NG.Google Scholar
  14. 10.
    D. H. Lawrence, The Trespasser (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) p. 226.Google Scholar
  15. The background of Lawrence’s novel is skilfully traced in Louise Wright’s ‘Lawrence’s The Trespasser: its Debt to Reality’, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, XX (Summer 1978) pp. 230–48.Google Scholar
  16. 11.
    Harry T. Moore, The Priest of Love: a Life of D. H. Lawrence (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1974) p. 134.Google Scholar
  17. 12.
    Helen Corke, In Our Infancy: an Autobiography, Part I: 1882–1912 (Cambridge University Press, 1975) p. 187.Google Scholar
  18. 13.
    Frieda Lawrence, The Memoirs and Correspondence ed. E. W. Tedlock, Jr (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964) p. 207.Google Scholar
  19. 14.
    Gilbert Cannan, Mendel: a Story of Youth (George H. Doran, 1916) p. 164. References to this book are made in the text as MSY.Google Scholar
  20. 15.
    See Diana Farr, Gilbert Cannan: a Georgian Prodigy (Chatto & Windus, 1978). The murder-suicide that ends Logan’s life in Mendel was actually based on the fate of a painter named John Currie who killed his mistress, Dolly Henry — see ibid., p. 140.Google Scholar
  21. 16.
    Peter Firchow, ‘Rico and Julia: the Hilda Doolittle-D. H. Lawrence Affair Reconsidered’, Journal of Modern Literature, VIII, no. 1 (1980) pp. 51–76.Google Scholar
  22. 17.
    John Cournos, Miranda Masters (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926) pp. 175–6.Google Scholar
  23. 18.
    Hilda Doolittle, Bid Me to Live (A Madrigal) (New York: Grove Press, 1960) p. 67. References to this book are made in the text as BML.Google Scholar
  24. 19.
    Janice S. Robinson, H.D.: the Life and Work of an American Poet (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982).Google Scholar
  25. 20.
    Cited in ibid., p. 133n.Google Scholar
  26. 21.
    A revealing letter from Lawrence to Cecil Gray on 7 November 1917 seems rather emphatic in the distinction it makes between the kind of ‘Hebridean’ relationship Gray had with Frieda and the ‘Orphic’ tie between Lawrence and some of his women friends: ‘my “women” [Esther Andrews, Hilda Aldington, etc.] represent, in an impure and unproud, subservient, cringing, bad fashion, I admit — but represent none the less the threshold of a new world, or underworld, of knowledge and being. … You want an emotional, sensuous underworld, like Frieda and the Hebrideans: my “women” want an ecstatic subtly-intellectual underworld, like the Greeks-Orphicism — like Magdalen at her feet-washing — and there you are’ (Letters, p. 532). Hilda’s name, omitted from the Huxley and Moore editions of Lawrence’s letters, was restored from the original manuscript by Paul Delany in D. H. Lawrences Nightmare: the Writer and his Circle in the Years of the Great War (Basic Books, 1978) p. 333. It will be remembered that Julia is writing her Orphic sequence at the end of Bid Me to Live. Perhaps the main weakness of the Robinson thesis is the way in which she tends to overlook simple literary influence. Much of what Robinson would like to think is the product of shared experience would appear to derive from Hilda’s devoted reading of Lawrence’s works over the extended period of years in which she revised her writings.Google Scholar

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© the Estate of Gāmini Salgādo and G. K. Das 1988

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  • Maurice Beebe

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