The Rainbow Background

The Rainbow Background

DH Lawrence was an English novelist born on September 11, 1885 in Nottinghamshire, England. Son of a teacher and a miner, Lawrence lived a hard-knock middle class upbringing, which would influence his future works as a writer. Despite his financial struggles throughout adolescence, he was able to attend the University of Nottingham where he received a teaching certificate. During his college years, Lawrence won a short story competition, which marked the first time he received acclaim for one of his literary pieces. He would go on to publish numerous acclaimed novels and short stories, one of which is The Rainbow, published in 1915.

The Rainbow takes place over three generations from the 1840s to 1905. It tells the story of the Brangwen family, a lineage of farmers, and how their familial relations morph during the Industrial Revolution. The novel begins with Tom Brangwen inheriting his family farm and marrying Lydia, a Polish refugee. The story follows the lives of the Brangwens as they have children and conform to an increasingly capitalist society.

Throughout The Rainbow, Lawrence writes a great deal about sexual desire and the integral role it plays in romantic relationships. The mature content of the story caused an uproar amongst the public. As a result, on November 13, 1915, the novel was tried in an obscenity trial and over 1,000 copies were confiscated.

Despite the harsh reception Lawrence’s book received at the time, The Rainbow is praised by many critics today. Robert McCrum of The Guardian wrote that “The Rainbow is as close to perfection as any of [Lawrence's] mature fiction. It is conceived on a majestic scale, spanning a period from the 1840s to 1905, and showing how the Brangwen farming family is changed by Britain's industrial revolution, evolving from pastoral idyll to the chaos of modernity.”

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