Today, he seems chippy, callow, misogynistic, flashy and irritating, the worst kind of literary windbag.
Robert McCrum in the Observer, 27 March 2011
Oh dear! What are we to do with D. H. Lawrence? He is one of those writers that go and in out of favour, according to the tastes of the times and, frankly, in the early party of the twentieth-first century, when earthy sex is not all that high on the agenda, he looks more and more irrelevant. His reputation may well have been at its highest in the Sixties when the idea of getting back in touch with nature, primarily through sex, was more in tune with the Zeitgeist than it is now. Nowadays, his often tedious moralising cannot be ignored. His poems and paintings, frankly, have also started to looked tired and irrelevant. This is not to say that Lawrence is of no value. Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow and Women in Love are still fine novels but they are not the greatest novels in the English language that some of their supporters would have us believe.
David Herbert Lawrence was born in 1885 in Eastwood, near Nottingham. His father was a miner and his mother had been a schoolteacher. He had a difficult childhood as the family was poor, his parents quarreled all the time and he was frequently ill. He was very close to his mother, who wished to keep him out of the mines. He became a student teacher and started a relationship with Jessie Chambers, who became the model for Miriam in Sons and Lovers. While continuing to teach, he started writing poetry and then his first novels, but, after the death of his mother, he became very ill and gave up teaching.
In 1912 he met Frieda Weekley (née von Richthofen), the wife of his former professor, six years his senior and mother of three children. They fell in love and eloped to Germany. Much of the rest of their time together was spent travelling around. During the First World War, they were in England, where they were both persecuted by the police and Lawrence's novel, The Rainbow, was seized by the police and declared obscene. In 1919, they left for Italy but continued their travels - to Ceylon, Australia, the United States and Mexico. Their relationship became increasingly stormy and their financial situation was equally strained. Lawrence's health was getting worse and he found out that he had an advanced state of tuberculosis and only two years left to live. At this time, he became interested in painting, though he had the same trouble with his paintings as with his novels, when thirteen pictures were seized for obscenity by the police at an exhibition in London. In 1928 he finished his last and most controversial novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover, which was not published in England and the United States in an unexpurgated version for over thirty years. Frieda took him to Germany and then the South of France to find a cure but he died in 1930 in Vence.
Books about D. H. Lawrence
David Ellis: D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, 1922-1930
Mark Kinkead-Weekes: D. H. Lawrence: Triumph to Exile, 1912-1922
Robert E. Montgomery: The Visionary D. H. Lawrence: Beyond Philosophy and Art
John Worthen: D. H. Lawrence: The Early Years, 1885-1912
There are hundreds of books about Lawrence. The above are the most interesting. For more see here and here.