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Sons and Lovers: The Biography of a Novel$
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Neil Roberts

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781942954187

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781942954187.001.0001

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Bert and Jessie, 1901–1909

Bert and Jessie, 1901–1909

(p.7) 1 Bert and Jessie, 1901–1909
Sons and Lovers: The Biography of a Novel

Neil Roberts

Liverpool University Press

This chapter traces Lawrence’s family history and relationship with Jessie Chambers over the period 1901-1909, focussing on key episodes in the autobiographical background to the novel, especially the crisis in 1906 when he told Jessie that he did not love her as a man should love his wife, as well as Jessie’s importance as the first reader of Lawrence’s youthful writing. The chapter also traces Lawrence’s early writing career, focussing on his mentoring by Ford Madox Hueffer and early texts such as The White Peacock, ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’ and the play A Collier’s Friday Night. The play, written before Lawrence began work on Sons and Lovers, dramatises a scene that was to be central to every surviving draft of the novel and can be considered the first draft of the ‘Strife in Love’ chapter. Lawrence’s struggle between notions of bourgeois literary taste and the expectation that he would be a writer of working-class fiction is also an important theme.

Keywords:   Jessie Chambers, The White Peacock, A Collier’s Friday Night, ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’, Ford Madox Hueffer, working-class, autobiographical

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