Sons and Lovers: The Biography of a Novel

BookSons and Lovers: The Biography of a Novel

Sons and Lovers: The Biography of a Novel

Clemson University Press


August 11th, 2016

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Lawrence's autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers was written in four drafts between August 1910 and November 1912. During that period Lawrence's mother died, he broke for the final time with Jessie Chambers, the original of Miriam, had an affair with Alice Dax, the main model for Clara, had a year-long engagement to Louie Burrows, nearly died of pneumonia, gave up teaching, met Frieda Weekley who was to be his wife and life-companion, and lived abroad with her in Germany and Italy. When he began Sons and Lovers he was a schoolteacher in Croydon, South London. Writing after work in the evenings; when he completed it he was a full-time professional writer living with Frieda on the shores of Lake Garda. The writing of the novel and the life on which it was based were closely intertwined. Moreover, Frieda and Jessie crucially influenced the writing of the book. In Jessie's case she wrote sections of it herself as well as well as encouraging Lawrence to make it more directly autobiographical. In many ways the book is the result of dialogues with Jessie and Frieda. Jessie was devastated by the outcome, which she considered a slander and a betrayal. But Lawrence incorporated her answering voice, as well as Frieda’s, in the text. This book combines biography and textual scholarship to bring to life the dramatic story of the writing of Sons and Lovers.


'Roberts’s fine-tuned critical savvy will delight both the lay reader and the D.H. Lawrence specialist as it strikes a fine balance between readability and archival examination of sources.'
Erik Martiny, The London Magazine

Author Information

Neil Roberts is Emeritus Professor of English Literature, University of Sheffield.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Abbreviations9
List of Figures11
1 Bert and Jessie, 1901–190919
2 ‘The Saga of Siegmund’ and the Test on Lawrence, 1909–191045
3 ‘Paul Morel I’ and the Death of Lydia Lawrence, August–December 191069
4 Betrothal and ‘Paul Morel II’, January–October 191181
5 Re-enter Jessie, 1911–191295
6 ‘The death-blow to our friendship’, ‘Paul Morel III’, February–June 1912109
7 From ‘Paul Morel’ to Sons and Lovers, July–November 1912143
8 Epilogue, 1912–1913171