9 December 2012

D. H. Lawrence (misspelt) and John Harvey in Nottingham

The Peacock, Mansfield Road, Nottingham.
'With a history of famous clientele [the Peacock] is reputed to have been a regular watering hole of D. H. Laurence [sic] (1885–1930), the inspired son of a Nottingham miner who went on to become one of the most important and controversial writers of the 20th century [no full stop] He is probably best known for his novels 'Sons and Lovers' and Lady chatterley's Lover'. (Yes, the 'c' is lower case.)
Can you believe just how lazy this piece of writing is, in large letters for all to see in the prominent space where the corner entrance was? 'The inspired son [ho hum] of a Nottingham [my italics] miner'? The person or persons responsible for it at least got the dates of his birth and death right, but then we have further rubbish: 'is reputed to have been [so they're hedging their bets, right?] a regular watering hole' of the man whose name they can't even be bothered to spell correctly? Where exactly did Lawrence get this reputation for drinking, as I'd love to know the reference. His father Arthur had a few 'watering hole's' certainly, but that was a big source of family discord. Maybe the writer(s) heard his first novel was The White Peacock, and just got confused.
The sign continues:
'More recently it is believed [more bet hedging] that fictional crime writer John Harvey (born in 1938) first penned his 'Charlie Resnick' detective novels whilst a patron at the Peacock. Former University of Nottingham lecturer Harvey, also a devout Notts County fan, is responsible for immortalising Nottingham and inner city life through this jazz loving Polish investigator.'
I don't know much about John Harvey, but at least his name and his character's name are spelt correctly. I don't think we're supposed to understand that he wrote books in the pub, although the first sentence could be interpreted that way.
So what do we learn from this? The Peacock's spreading its colourful fan with some exaggeration of course, but – and no matter how badly it may be done – a part of Nottingham's literary history is mentioned on a pub wall, which I suppose is all right (sort of). Nottingham, of course, has an impressive literary history. At the moment they're trying to raise enough money for a memorial to Alan Sillitoe – see the link below.
(In 2008 a statue was unveiled in Nottingham dedicated to, er, a football manager: it's a question of cultural priorities, you understand.)
The Alan Sillitoe website

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