Hannah Comer, a doctoral researcher in the Centre for Modernist Cultures, outlines the thinking behind and preparations for ‘Walking with Lawrence’, a CMC-sponsored event due to take place on 20 November 2018.
What is ‘Walking with Lawrence’ and how did the project come about?
‘Walking with Lawrence’ is a tour of Nottingham’s city centre as experienced by the renowned writer and artist D. H. Lawrence. It will be both a guided walking tour of Nottingham (as part of this year’s Being Human Festival) and a downloadable audio tour hosted through the Modernist Podcast. With the ‘Walking with Lawrence’ project, we want to encourage audiences, along with visitors to and residents of Nottingham city centre, to engage with the links between Lawrence, his writing, and the city.
As a UNESCO City of Literature, much emphasis is placed on Nottingham’s literary heritage. At present, however, the majority of Lawrence’s heritage is located in Eastwood (his birthplace), and there is little recognition of his links to the city centre. The project came about as a way to rectify this predicament in some form and to explore new ways of interpreting literary heritage, especially in relation to Lawrence, as a writer for whom place is such an important concept.
How did you decide on the format of the tour?
The tour includes places that Lawrence visited and featured in his literary works. It will look at aspects of those works in relation to different sites in Nottingham. We decided on the format of the tour by focusing on the key locations that feature in Lawrence’s early life and fiction, and which represent important connections to the city.
For the podcast, the tour will use a fictive ‘voice’ of DH Lawrence. We want it to be an engaging and creative way to introduce the landmarks or explore how these places inspired him and were part of his everyday life. It has definitely been an interesting task to try and get into the mindset of Lawrence!
What inspired you to make it into a podcast rather than a one-off event?
We wanted to make the tour not only a one-off event, but also something which could continue to be accessible and used in various ways afterwards—whether it be on a visit to Nottingham or as something to listen to for those who have an interest in Lawrence. We were also inspired by other audio tours in connection with literary figures, such as the tours of James Joyce’s Dublin.
What sorts of locations does the tour bring into its scope?
The tour takes us through Nottingham’s city centre and consists of locations that played an important role in Lawrence’s early life, such as Nottingham High School, the Theatre Royal, the Arkwright Building at Nottingham Trent University, the Old Market Square, and Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery (although this is closed at present).
Who has worked on and funded the project?
The project has been organised by PhD candidates from the University of Birmingham and Nottingham Trent University. I have been working on the project with Heather Green and Séan Richardson, both at NTU. The tour is part of the Being Human Festival and has been supported by the School of English, Drama, and American & Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham.
When will it be launched?
The walking tour will take place on Tuesday 20 November 2018, at 12-1pm. For more information please see: https://beinghumanfestival.org/event/walking-with-lawrence/
The podcast has yet to be confirmed.
We hope that you will enjoy the project and hopefully see you at the tour!