Frances Wilson is an award-winning biographer and critic. She has always been drawn to writing about difficult men, making Lawrence her perfect subject. Her previous biographies on Thomas De Quincy and Bruce Ismay, she admits, “…are cardboard cut outs in comparison to the tangle of contradictions that composed DH Lawrence.”
When she began writing Burning Man, she expected to quarrel with Lawrence throughout, but quickly realised that she had fallen completely under his spell – the Lawrence she had read as a teenager bore no relation to the man she uncovered.
Frances will also be running an online Writing Workshop in the morning: How to Write A Life Story: A Beginner’s Guide to Biography and Memoir
DH Lawrence is no longer censored, but he is still on trial – and we are still unsure what the verdict should be, or even how to describe him. History has remembered him, and not always flatteringly, as a nostalgic modernist, a sexual liberator, a misogynist, a critic of genius, and a sceptic who pioneered the genre we now celebrate as auto-fiction. He was also the first writer to be ‘cancelled’, not once, but twice.
Lawrence has never recovered his reputation, nor has he ever been properly understood beyond his imperfect and often self-sabotaging novels. Where is the real Lawrence in all of this, and how can we hear his voice above the noise?
In Burning Man, Frances Wilson – his first woman biographer in almost three decades – tells a new story about the author, focusing on his decade of superhuman writing and travel between 1915, when The Rainbow was suppressed following an obscenity trial, and 1925, when he was diagnosed with TB.
His journey began deep in the Midlands mines where his father worked and ended 8000 feet above sea level in the Lobo mountains of New Mexico, where his ashes are mixed into the cement of his memorial chapel. In bringing the true Lawrence into sharp focus Frances show how he speaks to us now more than ever.
“…She makes Lawrence live and breathe, annoy and captivate you.. she conjures the past with such clarity and wit and flair that it feels utterly present.” Katherine Rundell
“A brilliantly unconventional biography, passionately researched and written with a wild, playful energy.” Richard Holmes