Lawrence archive stays in county after being bought by university

The DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum in Eastwood.
The DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum in Eastwood.

A unique archive of treasures linked to Eastwood’s most famous son, DH Lawrence, has been acquired by the University of Nottingham.

The collection, which was formerly in private ownership, contains more than 600 items, many of which are invaluable or irreplaceable.

It features personal materials, such as drafts of published works, diaries, letters and notebooks that represent the last major cache relating to the life and work of one of the most influential and controversial writers of the 20th century.

Considered to be of huge cultural value, the collection has been bought by the university for an undisclosed fee to ensure that it stays within the county of Lawrence’s birth at Eastwood in 1885.

When it became available, there was a risk it might be purchased by overseas buyers or that certain items might be dispersed among private collectors.

But the university recognised the significance of the collection and sought out donations from charities and the National Heritage Memorial Fund to secure it.

Craig Davidson, of the university, said: “The natural home for these items is Nottingham. It is where Lawerence spent his formative years, and it is his geographical heartland that these materials evoke.”

The collection is a treasure trove of intimate items, including some of Lawrence’s possessions and personal papers. There are drafts of poems, doodles and sketches, and even a notebook from the author’s own time at University College, Nottingham (which later became the university).

Pages from his diaries describe days out, while a postcard to his younger sister, Ada Clarke, describes a trip to Sicily in 1920.

Mark Dorrington, the university’s keeper of manuscripts and special collections, said: “Our DH Lawrence collections have already been designated as of national and international importance.

“It was crucial that we attempted to secure this collection for the university, where it can be made available for teaching and research.

“I am absolutely delighted that our fundraising campaign has been successful.”