D. H. Lawrence
Bio: D. H. Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England. His father was a coal miner, his mother a former lace worker and unsuccessful haberdasher. He began school just before the age of four, but respiratory illness and a weak constitution forced him to remain home intermittently. Two months before his sixteenth birthday, he went to work as a clerk in a badly ventilated factory that made medical supplies, and eventually contracted pneumonia. After a long convalescence, he got a job as a student teacher, but privately he resolved to become a poet. He began writing seriously in 1906 and entered University College, Nottingham, to earn his teacher's certificate. Two years later he started teaching elementary school full time. He published his first poems in the English Review in 1909. When he contracted pneumonia a second time, he gave up teaching.
His first two novels, The White Peacock and The Trespasser, were published in 1911 and 1912. About three weeks after the publication of The Trespasser, he left England with Frieda Weekley, née von Richthofen, the German wife of Ernest Weekley, a British linguist who had been his French and German instructor at University College. He wrote the final version of his autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers (1913)--begun when his mother was dying of cancer in 1910--during their year-long courtship in Germany and Italy. It was immediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the oedipal drama, but, like most of Lawrence's novels during his lifetime, sold poorly. They married in London in July 1914, immediately after Frieda's divorce became final, and lived peripatetically and in relative poverty.
They spent World War I in England, a country they both essentially disliked, and endured a series of clumsy surveillance and harassment campaigns by local police because of her nationality (several of her relatives were diplomats, statesmen, and politicians, and she was a distant cousin of Manfred von Richthofen, the 'Red Baron') and his apparent lack of patriotism (among other charges, The Prussian Officer, a collection of stories, published in November 1914, several months after Great Britain entered the war, was considered politically and morally offensive by conservative booksellers). Exempt from active service because of his health, he wrote The Rainbow and Women in Love, arguably his two greatest novels. The former was seized and burned by the police for indecency in November 1915, two months after publication; Lawrence was unable to find a publisher for the latter until six years later. Composition of these two novels coincided with bouts of erratic behavior in Lawrence that bordered on mental instability, sexual confusion and experimentation that threatened to undermine his marriage, and endless health reversals, including a diagnosis of tuberculosis. Twilight in Italy, a collection of acerbic travel essays believed by some to show a sympathy for fascism that became more explicit in, for example, his novel The Plumed Serpent (1926), was published in 1916. He recorded the vicissitudes of his marriage in an autobiographical poem cycle, Look! We Have Come Through (1917).
The Lawrences departed for Europe in late 1919 and spent most of the next two years in Italy and Germany.