English students visit former mining sites to understand more about Nottingham writer D.H. Lawrence

Students preparing for their final year dissertation chose to visit sites key to the writer’s history.

A group of English students joined BA (Hons) English lecturer James Walker on a tour of former mining sites in order to improve their understanding of the work of D.H. Lawrence. Lawrence is one of the most acclaimed writers of Nottingham’s history, whose works are heavily autobiographical. The experiences of his early years in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire influenced both his later life and his literary works.

The students are working towards their final year English and Creative Industries project, which will see them create a portfolio of critical and reflective writing. Students visited the twin headstocks of Brinsley Colliery, the mine formerly owned by the Barber, Walker & Company. D.H. Lawrence’s father worked at Brinsley colliery from the age of 10. D.H. Lawrence references the colliery in works such as the short story Odour of Chrysanthemums.

Then the group headed to Beauvale Priory, which was originally built for the Carthusian order of monks in 1343. It is now home to The Gatehouse Tearooms situated in the historic monk’s Gatehouse. This led to a discussion around how the Priory inspired D.H. Lawrence to write the short story, 'A Prelude', which won a prize in the Nottinghamshire Guardian competition in December 1907.

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Brinsley Colliery

The last stop on the tour was Breach House, now immortalised forever as 'The Bottoms' in 'Sons and Lovers' (1913). The home is full of artefacts from the Edwardian period, as well as containing numerous mining memorabilia. James recently presented a documentary on BBC Radio 4 called Tongue and Talk: The Dialect Poets, which referenced these works and the sites that inspired them, with a focus on the use of dialect in Lawrence's poetry.

Getting a full sensory experience in order to appreciate the complex mind of DH Lawrence will help students gain an understanding that can’t be achieved from books alone. The trip was also a fantastic way for students to learn more about the region’s rich literary past and influential mining heritage.

English students visit former mining sites to understand more about Nottingham writer D.H. Lawrence

Published on 11 February 2019
  • Subject area: English, history and philosophy
  • Category: Current students; School of Arts and Humanities

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