On 20 November 2018, Hannah Comer and Heather Green hosted ‘Walking with Lawrence’, a walking tour of Nottingham city centre which explored D.H. Lawrence’s connections to the city centre and how it inspired his work.

The talk in progress

The tour was part of this year’s Being Human Festival, with its theme of ‘Origins and Endings’.

Lawrence’s links to Nottingham and its surrounding areas, most notably Eastwood, are well-known but little formal attention has been paid to his connections to the city centre itself. Lawrence’s critical writings display a love-hate relationship with Nottingham and his hometown, but it was a landscape to which he felt a deep connection and one he always returned to in his works. Many well-known landmarks, such as Nottingham Castle, feature throughout his work, especially in his earlier novels like Sons and Lovers (1913) and The Rainbow (1915). The tour uncovered some forgotten literary landscapes that shaped Lawrence’s life and work, and opened up discussion about Lawrence, exploring the complexities of a writer and figure who is often dismissed or regarded as controversial. Hannah and Heather spoke about Lawrence’s work, not only as a novelist, but also as a poet, dramatist, critic and artist. They included extracts from his work and his descriptions of the locations featured on the tour.

Public square in Nottingham city centre

These locations included Market Square, the site of the Haywood’s factory, Nottingham Castle, Theatre Royal and Nottingham Trent University. Heather introduced the project, the outcomes and their research and began the tour at Market Square, speaking about Lawrence’s fascination with Nottingham’s annual Goose Fair and his short story ‘Goose Fair’ (1910). Heather also gave an insight into the history of Nottingham Castle and his connections to the site, as described in Sons and Lovers. Hannah spoke about Lawrence’s work as a clerk at the site of the Haywoods factory and the Theatre Royal, discussing the performances Lawrence attended as well as his own interest in drama. Hannah concluded the tour at the Arkwright building (Nottingham Trent University), exploring the start of Lawrence’s literary career, his time at College and how these experiences are reflected in The Rainbow. The event ended with further discussion at The Peacock, the pub Lawrence reputedly drank in.

Site of the Haywood Factory

'Walking with Lawrence’ is a digital humanities and literary heritage project jointly led by Hannah Comer, Heather Green and Séan Richardson, both researchers at Nottingham Trent University. The tour will be soon made available as a downloadable audio guide, hosted through the Modernist Podcast.

Portrait of Lawrence