University of Nottingham: Editing DH Lawrence: new exhibition sheds light on writer’s response to censorship

A new exhibition on DH Lawrence, one of the most iconic, but also controversial figures in English literature, is opening at Lakeside Arts next month.

DH Lawrence battled with publishers throughout his career to express himself in the way he wanted.

‘Editing DH Lawrence’ visitors will see these struggles in Lawrence’s own words, and those of his editors, via a wide range of items including manuscripts and typescripts, and rare first editions, which trace the ways in which the author’s writing was amended and censored.

The exhibition showcases material from the University of Nottingham’s DH Lawrence collection, which is designated as being of outstanding national and international significance by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. It also marks the culmination of a two-year digitisation and preservation project ‘Unlocking the DH Lawrence Collection’, funded by the Arts Council England Designation Development Fund.

The show brings to the fore the innovative approaches to publishing that Lawrence developed in response to censorship, including his engagement with the expensive editions business, and private publication. It also explores how his writings have been edited and published since his death in 1930.

An intimate picture emerges of Lawrence’s painstaking writing practice as an author who constantly revised his work, and of his extraordinary courage to face down the authorities to publish his more outspoken fiction and poetry, and to display and publish his paintings. Lawrence’s self-image as the indomitable, phoenix-like outsider refusing to be silenced is considered alongside the many versions of his life and works in adaptations for TV and film, and in contemporary fiction inspired by him.

The exhibition has been curated by experts at the University, including its Libraries, Manuscripts and Special Collections team, and Doctor Andrew Harrison, Director of the DH Lawrence Research Centre in the School of English, and Emeritus Professor John Worthen.

“The exhibition offers a multi-layered insight into Lawrence. It allows one to glimpse his life as a professional author interacting in an enterprising way with literary advisers, agents, printers and publishers, and the ways in which his work has been presented to publics during his lifetime and since his death. It also shows how he cultivated his own image as a man and writer, and how he has been understood and represented both inside and outside academia.”
Doctor Andrew Harrison, Director of the DH Lawrence Research Centre in the School of English

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