COLUMN: What would DH Lawrence think of Eastwood today?

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No look, however brief, at DH Lawrence’s letters should omit to mention his references to Eastwood.

He did once despair of the town, complaining to his sister Ada, in 1913: ‘But I hate Eastwood abominably and I should be glad if it were puffed off the face of the earth.’

But he continued to urge his Eastwood mentor, Willie Hopkin, to tell him ‘all the things that happen’ there and he wrote some vivid sketches of Eastwood.

By 1918, Lawrence had mellowed sufficiently as to write to an artist friend, Mark Gertler, that, having spent a day in Eastwood: ‘For the first time in my life I feel quite amiably towards it.’

In a letter to Hermann Piehler, written April 17, 1925, Lawrence openly gives the locations for several of his most important works.

He wrote: ‘The scene of my Nottingham-Derby novels all centre around Eastwood, Notts (where I was born) and whoever stands on Walker Street, Eastwood, will see the whole landscape of Sons and Lovers before him: Underwood in front, the hills of Derbyshire on the left, the woods and hills of of Annesley on the right. The road from Nottingham by Watnall, Moorgreen, up to Underwood and on to Annesley (Byron’s Annesley) - gives you all the landscape of The White Peacock, Miriam’s farm in Sons and Lovers, and the home of the Crich family, and Willey Water, in Women in Love.’

Lawrence continued: ‘The Rainbow is Ilkeston and Cossall, near Ilkeston, moving to Eastwood. And Hermione, in Women in Love, is supposed to live not far from Cromford... The Lost Girl begins in Eastwood - the cinematograph show being in Langley Mill.’

Then, of course, there is the world famous letter of December 3, 1926, to Rolf Gardiner, where Lawrence more lovingly recommends and describes in detail the view from Walker Street, declaring that area to be ‘the country of my heart’.

Those who have enjoyed guided tours with DHL Heritage staff will no doubt be familiar with this panorama and for Lawrence-lovers taking in this view is a pleasure.

What he would say about the town today we can only speculate.

How could this radical thinker not approve of a high street with exotic food outlets, a hairdresser with the heart to say “no to animal testing”, a health food shop named after the Roman goddess of fertility, with an abundance of herbal products, and even establishments offering such helpful alternative treatments as cognitive behavioural therapy and reflexology?

And, beyond the shops and houses, the Mellors-haunted woods, fields and streams seem still to await Lawrence’s return!