Traveller's tales

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Our Bert

The lane to Zennor

'The greatest writer cannot see through a brick wall but unlike the rest of us he does not build one.' W.H. Auden

8a, Victoria Street lies in the heart of a working class colliery area, it was here Lawrence lived with his parents. His mother is believed to have always felt superior to her miner husband, it was his father who fostered the budding writers vivid imagination and it was from him that he inherited his love of the countryside.

After reading 'Sons and lovers' and then coming across a quote like this about Lawrence, it is easy to feel the truth of this: 'Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.' Willa Cather

Writing about Walter and his wife, Gertrude in that novel, Lawrence must have borrowed heavily from his childhood. Like all writers, he would not have merely related incidents from his youth, but would have synthesised them into something of his making, to say the things only he could say in the only way he could; a novellist is not a diarist.

And I think that by writing about people he had known and events he had witnessed and even taken part in, Lawrence came to understand more about them by the very act of writing; writing is one of the best ways of finding things out - even about things you thought you knew - especially those things.
Robert Leslie Fielding

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