But what was Lawrence's own sex life like?
In this fascinating article from the Guardian Doris Lessing talks about Lawrence's sexual relationship with his wife, Frieda, and how the tuberculosis he suffered from while writing Lady C. heightened his sexuality and its feverish imaginations but at the same time cruelly caused impotence.
Lawrence lived in an era that "was sexually ignorant to the point these days that it is hard to rmember it or understand it" and Lessing claims that Lawrence was clued up about some aspects of sex, but totally ignorant about others. (I leave which and what for you to discover!)
Lady Chatterley's Lover for all it's reputation for being a racy read, a smutty book, is a beautiful novel about the power of sex to redeem the human spirit, and I was much moved by it when I read it as a teenager going through my Lawrence phase and feeling that no writer before had ever come so close to understanding what I felt. Lessing tells this wonderful story about another reader greatly affected by it:
I once owned a farm cottage on the edge of Dartmoor and I often drove up and down from London, giving lifts, as in those days we thought nothing of it. Once, coming up from Devon, I stopped near Salisbury Plain, where they train soldiers, to give a lift to a very young soldier who I at once saw was in an unusual state of mind. He was flushed, smiling, could not stop talking, sometimes exploding in a young laugh, surprising himself and me. He was in love. Scarcely conscious of me, the middle-aged woman driving him up to London and his true love, he had to talk, had to tell someone ... he wished he could tell me how he felt, he didn't have the words, but did I know this book here? And he brought out a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover. A friend had given it to him, saying it was all about love, and yes, he was right, this friend, he had never read anything like it, well, he wasn't really a reader, actually this was the only book he had ever read. But he had read it several times, and kept finding new things in it. Had I read it? he wanted to know, and if not I must look out for a copy. Then I would understand what he was feeling now ... and there he sat, all the way to London, Lady Chatterley's Lover in his hand, smiling, laughing.