34 pages 1 hour read

D. H. Lawrence

Odour of Chrysanthemums

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1911

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Authorial Context: D. H. Lawrence

David Herbert Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. He was an extensive writer, producing novels, poems, plays, essays, and short stories like “Odour of Chrysanthemums.” He came from a working-class background but won a scholarship to Nottingham High School. He developed a love of literature and writing, which grew through his friendship with Jessie Chambers, the daughter of a local farming family. She encouraged him in this early period and sent several drafts of his manuscripts to a journal, including “Odour of Chrysanthemums.” This resulted in Lawrence’s first publication.

Lawrence was the fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, an uneducated miner at Brinsley Colliery, and Lydia Lawrence (née Beardsall). Lydia was a former pupil-teacher—a promising student selected to apprentice as a teacher while continuing their studies—but was forced to abandon this to work in a lace factory due to her family’s financial hardship. The central relationship in “Odour of Chrysanthemums” is modeled on his parents’ lives, with Elizabeth and Walter Bates replicating the tensions between them, his mother’s frustrations at her circumstances, and his father’s alcohol addiction. In his later novel, Sons and Lovers (1913), he explores this dynamic further through Walter and Gertrude Morel (with Walter sharing the same name as Walter Bates).