More than 600 DH Lawrence ‘treasures’ bought by University of Nottingham

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An extract from The Piano

More than 600 DH Lawrence ‘treasures’ including diary entries, notebooks and personal papers have been bought by the University of Nottingham.

The collection also includes correspondence with family members and a notebook from his time spent as a student at University College Nottingham which has drafts of poems, doodles and sketches.

The items were formerly in private ownership and the university said it was at risk of being purchased by overseas buyers or items would be dispersed among private collectors.

The University of Nottingham then decided to purchase the collection with funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and a number of charities.

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Postcard to Ada Clarke

Craig Davidson of the university’s campaign and alumni relations office, who led the fundraising appeal to acquire the collection, said: “The natural home for these items is Nottingham.

“It is where Lawrence spent his formative years and it is his geographical heartland which these materials evoke.

“Lawrence also had strong connections to our institution and so we felt very strongly that the collection should remain at its rightful home at the University of Nottingham.”

Among the other personal items is a page from Lawrence’s diary dated August 9 1906 describing a day spent in Lincolnshire along with drafts of the poems ‘My Love, My Mother’ and ‘The Piano’.

The collection also includes fond and intimate correspondence between Lawrence and family members.

From his travels in Italy there is a postcard sent from Sicily by Lawrence to his younger sister Ada Clarke in 1920 and a postcard sent to his nephew ‘Jack’ Clarke in 1927.

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A sketch by DH Lawrence’s elder brother

Keeper of manuscripts and special collections Mark Dorrington said: “Our DH Lawrence collections have already been designated as of national and international importance.

“As a former student of the university 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 and our already rich DH Lawrence collections strengthened.”

David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) was born and brought up in late Victorian industrial England in the mining community of Eastwood.

From his working-class background he won scholarships to Nottingham High School and University College Nottingham, eventually taking up a post as a certified elementary school teacher in Croydon, south-east London.

He then surpassed all expectations of a miner’s son by becoming one of the greatest and most influential writers of his time.

Commenting on the national importance of this archive chair of NHMF Sir Peter Luff, said:  “DH Lawrence remains one of the 20th century’s most influential writers.

“This intimate collection provides unprecedented context to his life and work.

“As the founder of the UK’s most precious heritage at risk, the trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund felt it imperative to help secure it intact and here in the UK for future generations to explore and enjoy.”

Items from the collection can be viewed at the Manuscripts and Special Collections Reading Rooms at the University of Nottingham’s King’s Meadow Campus.

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