D. H. Lawrence composed “The Horse-Dealer’s Daughter” in the winter of 1916 and completed it in January of the next year under the title “The Miracle.” The manuscript was tinkered with and revised and, of course, retitled before finally being published in the English Review in April, 1922. It would later be republished in a collection of Lawrence’s short stories titled England, My England. This particular story is aptly included in that volume as although the setting is not directly identified within the text, Lawrence scholars are agreed that it takes place in the author’s hometown of Eastwood.
The story is often considered an exemplary manifestation of a theme which recurs again and again throughout the body of Lawrence’s works: the redemptive properties of love, especially when situated within an otherwise bleak living condition. A central contributing factor to the bleak conditions at play in this particular example is the consequence of patriarchy and misogyny for women raised under conditions in which not only were present circumstances of existence fomenting unhappiness but the vision of what the future likely held adding hopelessness to the situation. Amidst this pervasively disconsolate landscape is Lawrence’s story of 27-year-old Mabel and the unexpected turn of events in her bleak living conditions that arise out of a single moment’s impulse to finally chart the course of her own destiny.