Menu

DHLSNA

D.H. Lawrence Society of North America

header photo

Essay on Lawrence & Women Scholars

SOME WOMEN and LAWRENCE

Virginia Hyde, Washington State University (2002, updated 2010)
        
(linked also to the University of Nottingham Lawrence site)

Students often ask how women view D. H. Lawrence, so I have collected over 100 names of women writers/scholars who have responded to his work.

Among creative writers who were influenced by Lawrence were H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Doris Lessing, Anais Nin, Joyce Carol Oates, Sylvia Plath, Eudora Welty, Elizabeth Bishop, Denise Levertov (with the other Black Mountain poets), Adrienne Rich, Kay Boyle, Carson McCullers, Meridel LeSeuer, Margaret Laurence, Dorothy Livesay, Margaret Drabble, Mollie Skinner, Katherine Susannah Pritchard, Barbara Hanrahan, Margaret Barbalet, Helen Dunmore, and A. S. Byatt. A number of these have written about Lawrence. Editors/poets who aided Lawrence and accepted his work for publication in his lifetime included well-known women--Amy Lowell, Harriet Monroe, and Marianne Moore. Rebecca West wrote a memorable obituary essay on him, and H. D.'s "The Poet" is thought to refer to him. (See also Leo Hamalian's D. H. Lawrence and Nine Women Writers [1996].)

Women who knew Lawrence in person and wrote book-length memoirs about him included Ada Lawrence, Jessie Chambers (E. T.), Helen Corke, Frieda Lawrence, Dorothy Brett, Catherine Carswell, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Achsah Brewster (co-author along with Earl Brewster), and Enid Hopkin Hilton. Several of the books below help "place" these memoirists in his life (Hahn, Feinstein, Maddox, and Talbot/Squires).

Following are some of the book-length studies that women have written about Lawrence; most are from university presses and most belong to the period after 1970. Only a very small handful may be uncritically celebrational (Nin's has been described this way but no doubt she has "poetic" license) and a very small handful harsher than others (notably Millett's Sexual Politics, from an earlier wave of feminism than today's rich variety of [plural] feminisms). More recent feminist scholars are prominent in Lawrence criticism and in criticism more generally--for example, the well-known editors Sandra Gilbert (co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women and co-author of leading volumes on women's literary history like The Mad Woman in the Attic and No Man's Land); Carol Siegel (co-editor of the periodicals Genders and Rhizomes as well as author of books of literary and cultural studies); Holly Laird (editor of the periodical Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature); and the late Evelyn Hinz (20-year editor of the interdisciplinary Mosaic and leading authority on Nin). Nearly all of the writers (if not all) count themselves feminists, whether studying primarily gender and family relations (as in Lewiecki-Wilson and Sklenicka) or other aspects of Lawrence's work.

All but four or five of the books were originally written in English although I include a dozen from countries where English is a foreign language; these should suggest the wider Lawrence studies throughout the world (with official societies in England, North America, Japan, Korea, China, Australia, and Italy and Lawrence scholarship in a dozen more countries).

There are notable shorter studies on Lawrence and l'écriture féminine (see Diane Richard-Allerdyce in the D. H. Lawrence Review 26.1-3 [1995-6]); Lawrence and postmodernism (see Joyce Wexler in the DHLR 27.1 [1997-8]); and Lawrence and Cixous (see Sandra Gilbert's* Introduction to The Newly Born Woman by Helene Cixous and Catherine Clement [1986], xvii, on Lawrence's anticipation of something like joissance, "the fusion of the erotic, the mystical, and the political that sometimes seems to characterize Cixous's thought on this subject. . . . [To DHL, coming to sexuality] is also a coming to selfhood and coming away from the historically hegemonic Western 'nerve-brain' consciousness").

See also the paragraphs that follow, naming still more women Lawrence scholars so that, in all, this list gives 66 book authors (73 books), nine memoirists (above), 24 creative writers (above), and more than 20 more women VIPS who study Lawrence and take a lead in professional activities, organizations, and/or publications regarding him and his circle.

 

SOME MORE WOMEN

Women editing for the Cambridge Lawrence Edition have included Helen Baron, Mara Kalnins, Lindeth Vasey, Bethan Jones, Elizabeth Mansfield, Margaret H. Boulton (all of Great Britain), Christa Jansohn (Germany), Simonetta de Filippis (Italy); and Virginia Hyde (US).

A number of other women have written introductions to individual Lawrence works (perhaps most notably in the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Series of the 1990s), using the previously-established CUP texts. These Penguin writers include Helen Baron, Mara Kalnins, Simonetta de Filippis, Anne Fernihough, Stefania Michelucci, Jill Franks, Carol Siegel, and Virginia Hyde.

Jennifer Wicke is author of the commentary on Lawrence in 2002's Longman Anthology of British Literature (vol. 2C).  She is co-editor (with Kevin Detmar) for the twentieth century.

For years Diana Trilling's Selected Letters of D. H. Lawrence (1958) was popular and readily available, along with her Portable D. H. Lawrence (as above).

The editor (Eleanor Green) and seven current members of the D. H. Lawrence Review's Editorial Board are women, as are eight of the 12 officers/Executive Committee members of the D. H. Lawrence Society of North America.  DHLSNA Presidents have included Judith Ruderman, Lydia Blanchard, Virginia Hyde, Eleanor Green, Betsy Fox, Jill Franks, and Elizabeth (Betsy) Sargent (current).  Holly Laird is President-Elect.

 

MORE VIP WOMEN

Sharon Oard Warner of the University of New Mexico founded and conducts an annual Taos Summer Writers' Conference for creative writers that awards a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship. 

Tina Ferris, a California poet and independent scholar, is the author (with Virginia Hyde) of the nomination to place the Lawrences' Kiowa Ranch on the National Register of Historic Places--a five-year task that succeeded in 2004.  She has published Lawrence-related poetry in the D.H. Lawrence Review and an essay titled "'White Wonderful Demons':  Lawrence and the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration" in the collection, "Terra Incognita":  D.H. Lawrence at the Frontiers (2010), edited by Virginia Hyde and Earl Ingersoll, as well as a condensed version of the essay in the James Caird Society Journal (No. 3) related to Polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.  She is also web-master for the D.H. Lawrence Review and the DHLSNA and moderates the Yahoogroups based Lawrence listserve "Rananim."  (Helen Croom is the owner and founder of the Rananim Society.)  Tina was honored at MLA (San Diego, 2003), at the national DHLSNA dinner, with an award for outstanding service to the society for first envisioning the ranch nomination and then contributing her talents for years to bring it to fruition.

I also want to mention Ginette Katz-Roy (as above), editor of Etudes lawrenciennes (Paris), host of international DHL conferences, and recipient of the Harry T. Moore Award for Lawrence studies; the late Evelyn Hinz, Canada, past chair (as editior of Mosaic) of the American Council of Learned Journals, recipient of an MLA best-article award, and member of the MLA Executive Council (and author of a number of excellent myth studies on Lawrence); Simonetta de Filippis (as above), chair of the Department of Anglistics at the Instituto Universitario Orientale, Naples, who organized and hosted the Eighth International DHL Conference (2001); Rosemary Howard, longtime editor of the Newsletter of the D. H. Lawrence Society of England; Masako Hirai (as above), who edited a special book of haiku (translated by English students of her Kobe College, Japan) and presented copies to visitors at the Ninth International DHL Conference (2003); Jungmai Kim (as above), past president of the DHLS of Korea, editor of Feminist Studies in English Literature (Korea) and past president of both the Society of Feminist Studies and the American Studies Association of Korea; Sandra Darroch, officer of the Friends of Wyewurk (Lawrence home in Australia); Jacqueline Gouirand-Rousselon, France; Sheila Lahiri Choudhury, India; Simonetta di Fillipis (as above), Italy; Marija Knezevic, Montenegro; and Maria Aline Ferreira, Portugal. And let us not forget Mieko Kawasaki, Japan, author/illustrator of a comics version of Lady Chatterley's Lover that contains themes of tenderness and negotiation!

 (Virginia Hyde, Washington State University--updated 2010)