University of Virginia Library

Stage IIIa: the completion

Back in November, when Lawrence had first received Jessie's suggestion that he rewrite the novel keeping it "true to life", he had responded by asking her to write down some reminiscences for him to use (E.T., 193). He did not need these for revising the opening seventy-four pages in Croydon, but soon after his arrival in Eastwood on 9 February, and probably before 23 February when he reported himself underway with the novel again—"early in the week" as Jessie recalled (E.T., 195), and therefore possibly Monday 12 or Tuesday 13 February—he visited her to collect her notes.

On 4 February Lawrence had terminated his engagement to Louie, and he now wrote Stage IIIa with Jessie's moral support as he had written Stage II with Louie's. But the writing of this draft was more rapid, and as he lived nearer to Jessie he was able to give her pages of manuscript to read continuously as he wrote it, delivering them first by hand and later posting them.

On 23 February Lawrence officially resigned from his teaching post, and he now worked single-mindedly on this novel, turning away nearly all other offers of publication, whether short stories or poems. There were, however, a few other things that he allowed himself to do. From 2-8 March he took a trip to visit some old friends including the Daxes in Shirebrook.[24] From 25-31 March he was in Bradnop, Staffordshire, in fulfilment of a promise to visit his old school-friend George Henry Neville. (During this period he also met, or re-met, Frieda Weekley.)

All the while he continued to work hard at his novel, even taking it with him when he went to Shirebrook: there are letters on j paper on 1 March from Eastwood (no. 396) and 4 March from Shirebrook (no. 397), and on k paper on 6 March from Shirebrook (no. 399) and on 8 March from Eastwood again (no. 400), so presumably he wrote those parts of his novel that made the transition from the one paper to the other in Shirebrook.

His sense of urgency derived firstly from his determination to fulfil as nearly as possible his deadline for delivery to Heinemann, which he now set at May. Secondly, he had received in January while ill an invitation to visit


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relations in Germany, which had apparently given him the idea of writing a book of travel sketches,[25] and he had at once set his heart on going in the spring. When it was that he also began to think of this trip as an opportunity for an affair with Frieda it is not possible now to know for certain.

There are not the same detailed accounts in Lawrence's letters of his progress with this draft that there had been for Stage II, partly because of his direct contact with Jessie Chambers, and partly because she later destroyed his letters. Instead, there is an unusually full, and, in a sense, first-hand reminiscence in Jessie's memoir, written from her special perspective.

At first sight there seems to be a discrepancy between her account and the impression given by Lawrence's letters concerning the date at which he completed this draft. Jessie recorded that it was written "in about six weeks" "at a white heat of concentration" (E.T., 204, 201) and implies it was finished before 25 March 1912. Lawrence's letters indicate that it was finished about 11 April, which was seven weeks from 23 February (the latest date by which he had taken it up again).

In describing how Lawrence brought pages of the novel to her as he wrote it, Jessie does not state that he collected the pages she had already read, but gives the impression instead that he left it all with her to accumulate—as he must have done when he stopped bringing it personally and began to send it by post. This latter change may have had something to do with his trip to Shirebrook, but Jessie was convinced his motive was solely embarrassment at what he had done with her reminiscences, and, in effect, what he had written about herself (E.T., 201). When she had read the last pages, she proposed a date for a meeting, but Lawrence replied that he was already committed to visit Neville: since that visit took place from 25-31 March, he had, according to Jessie, completed the manuscript sometime before 25 March (E.T., 205). This is rather surprising in view of the fact that only on 13 March Lawrence had been predicting to Heinemann's editor, Walter de la Mare, that it would take him another month.[26] The most satisfactory interpretation is that Lawrence


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was allowing himself time for an immediate read-through after he had written to the end, and after Jessie had, like Louie, "corrected and collected" the manuscript and told him her opinion of it.

On Monday 1 April, the day after his return from Bradnop, Lawrence visited Jessie to collect the novel and hear her comments. But she was so overwhelmed by the injustice she felt he had done her by his portrait of Miriam, that she declined the inevitable quarrel, and, instead, "put some notes in with the [parcel of] manuscript" (E.T., 210-211). That parcel must have contained the twenty-three pages that now survive annotated with Jessie's objections and revisions, together with four pages of commentary entitled Chapter IX in which she expounded her criticisms, and at least one of the episodes written out by her.[27]

Thus the apparent discrepancy between E.T. and Lawrence's letters may be explained: when on 3 April he wrote to Edward Garnett (no. 411), "I shall finish my Colliery novel this week—the first draft. It'll want a bit of revising", he was presumably "finishing" it in the sense of pondering Jessie's criticisms and perhaps rewriting chapter IX—now too disfigured to submit it to a publisher—and tidying up the other pages she had annotated.

For example, on page 311, which was later transferred to the Final manuscript (where it became page 352), Jessie had pencilled in a correction of fact on the bottom line, overflowing to the top line of the next page. Lawrence did not rewrite the pages but penned his slightly different revision over hers so as to obliterate hers. His text had first read:

Miriam read this letter a thousand times. It was very dreadful to her.
Jessie's correction, which is hard to read now, was intended to replace "a thousand times":
twice, after which <it was> she sealed the envelope. Paul had given it her opened. A year later she broke the seal to show her mother the letter.
Lawrence overwrote this in ink changing the first two sentences to:
twice, after which she sealed it up.

On 11 April, after a week of (I suggest) such work on his manuscript, he reported to Walter de la Mare at Heinemann's (no. 415): "I have finished in its first form the colliery novel. Now I want to leave it for a month, when I shall go over it again. There are parts I want to change. Shall I send it to you for your opinion now at once, before I do any revising, or shall I pull it closer together before you see it?" There is nothing in the surviving


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'Miriam Papers' to suggest that Jessie had advised him to pull it together: perhaps this was the result of his reading it through during this week. In the event, he took it to Germany on 3 May and revised it there.

Lawrence called Stage IIIa the "first draft" and the "first form" of the novel because he had recast it so radically it no longer resembled Stage II, and because now that he had produced the first version of the whole in the form it was ultimately to take, he wanted to work it up. Unfortunately the end of this version is now lost, but Lawrence did give a clue as to how long he expected this draft to be when he wrote to Edward Garnett from Shirebrook on 6 March 1912 (no. 399) that he had "done two thirds or more". This letter was written on k paper, and the changeover from j to k paper, which happened in Shirebrook, took place between pages 281 and 309. If this was two thirds, the whole would be about 450 pages. (By contrast, the Final manuscript was 533 pages, much of it written much smaller on much larger paper.)