Row over mini zoo shakes Eastwood poet society

Durban House, Mansfield Road
Durban House, Mansfield Road

A poetry fan has slammed the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre for “cruel” activities that the poet himself would condemn.

Editor of the society’s newsletter David Brock, 64, wrote in the last issue that the heritage centre on Mansfield Road was “supporting vivisection and the slave trade in exotic animals”, after using a mobile zoo for a children’s workshop.

The retired antiques dealer and avid volunteer for both the society and animal protection charity Animal Aid, said: “They held a wildlife workshop enticing young people and their parents with a mobile zoo. It’s appallingly cruel.

“As an individual I said I deeply disapproved of the mobile zoo, to paying for this and supporting the trade of captive animals.

“It is impossible to imagine the author of Lizard, Snake and Mountain Lion approving of magical wild creatures being kept caged.

“There was quite a heated debate about it at a meeting – the outcome of which was that members suggested I hold a talk on DH Lawrence’s relationship with wildlife.

An edition of the society newsletter containing an editorial on the subject was removed from public view, added Mr Brock, as well as the centre’s support of certain pancreatic cancer charities which he condemned for using animal testing.

He described this bid to “censure” the newsletter as “ridiculous and wrong”.

“Lawrence fought the dull, conventional, prudish, priggish, autocratic censor all his life. It would be absurd if the newsletter were to face similar problems,” he added.

Society chairman Malcolm Grey said: “There was some concern about one paragraph in the editorial – it was an issue, it was raised and it’s been sorted out.”

The DH Lawrence Society has enjoyed a peak in popularity, even forcing members to consider a new venue because their room at the centre is now being filled.

Mr Grey added: “It’s quite a nice problem to have. Everybody in the society has worked very hard to promote links with schools, our newsletter is going out and beaing shaired, and the festival was very successful last year.

“We want to maintain the standard of literary response to DH Lawrence, and incorporate more background history, like the history of Eastwood, the coal mining, the Ripley Ratlers and so on.

All these are contributing to more people responding to the society.”