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Sons and Lovers The Biography of a Novel, by Neil Roberts

April 15, 2016

Sons-and-Lovers-scannedLawrence’s autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers was written in four drafts between August 1910 and November 1912. During that period Lawrence’s mother died, he broke for the final time with Jessie Chambers, the original of Miriam, had an affair with Alice Dax, the main model for Clara, had a year-long engagement to Louie Burrows, nearly died of pneumonia, gave up teaching, met Frieda Weekley who was to be his wife and life-companion, and lived abroad with her in Germany and Italy. When he began Sons and Lovers he was a schoolteacher in Croydon, South London. Writing after work in the evenings; when he completed it he was a full-time professional writer living with Frieda on the shores of Lake Garda. The writing of the novel and the life on which it was based were closely intertwined. Moreover, Frieda and Jessie crucially influenced the writing of the book. In Jessie’s case she wrote sections of it herself as well as well as encouraging Lawrence to make it more directly autobiographical. In many ways the book is the result of dialogues with Jessie and Frieda. Jessie was devastated by the outcome, which she considered a slander and a betrayal. But Lawrence incorporated her answering voice, as well as Frieda’s, in the text. This book combines biography and textual scholarship to bring to life the dramatic story of the writing of Sons and Lovers.

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