Life and legacy of Eastwood author captured in new digital archive

A letter written by a famous Eastwood author a few days before he died is one of thousands of documents currently being photographed for a new online archive.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 12:20 pm
Eastwood's own DH Lawrence. Photo: University of Nottingham, Manuscripts & Special Collections.

The DH Lawrence Collection at the University of Nottingham tells the story of the author’s personal and literary life and forms the largest single archive of his literary works and memorabilia in the UK.

Now, thanks to Arts Council funding, a two-year Covid-delayed project to capture more than 10,000 high quality images of these unique items is finally underway.

When the digitisation is complete, all of the items will be freely available to anyone with an interest in Eastwood’s most famous and controversial author.

Some of DH Lawrence's letters and postcards. Photo: ©University of Nottingham, Manuscripts & Special Collections.

The collection includes original manuscripts and artworks, handwritten letters and postcards, photographs, newspaper cuttings, research papers and ephemera.

A significant section of the new resource will consist of images of the handwritten manuscript of his first novel, The White Peacock, a tale of frustrated desire set in a community based around Moorgreen and Eastwood.

Mark Dorrington, keeper of manuscripts and special collections, said: “Literary manuscripts provide a truly invaluable window into the mind and creative process of the author.

"This is especially true of a writer like DH Lawrence, who revised many of his works over many months or even years.

"These revisions are evident at every stage in the life of his works, from the handwritten first draft to the finished publication.”

The archive will also include some of the university’s recent acquisitions which were not previously in the public domain.

One of them is a letter to his sister Ada, written in the south of France shortly before his death from TB in March 1930.

He wrote: ‘The doctor says I must lie quite still for two months – absolute rest. It is true, I’ve gone down badly this winter, really.

‘He wants me to go into a sanatorium above Nice – if this lying still doesn’t help, I shall have to do so. I’ve been in bed ten days – feel rather better.’

The digitisation work on the DH Lawrence Collection is planned to continue until the end of 2021.

The project runs until March 2022 when a special exhibition will take place at Lakeside on University Park, Nottingham.

Dr Andrew Harrison, director of the DH Lawrence Research Centre in the university’s School of English, added: “Nearly a century on from Lawrence’s death, his appeal as a controversial modernist writer persists – not least in the many adaptations for TV, film and theatre over the past few decades.

"We are very pleased and proud to be able to offer this extensive archive of materials to a wide public audience in this way. Nottingham is a UNESCO City of Literature and our new online ‘window on the world’ of DH Lawrence will be a fitting tribute to the region’s most celebrated author.”