D H Lawrence Letters

Image: One of DH Lawrence's letters to Molly Skinner

The Battye Library holds 17 letters from English novelist D H Lawrence to Mollie Skinner. They relate to a manuscript titled House of Ellis, later to be renamed The Boy in the Bush. Said to be the forgotten novel of Australia, it has been recently republished in a newly designed Australian edition. In his letters to her, Lawrence offers in the same breath both generous praise and damning crticism of her work.

With a storyline set in the 1880s the book is an example of early 20th century writing in the Australian genre. The book was conceived in 1922, while D H Lawrence and his wife Frieda were staying at Mollie's guesthouse in Darlington, an outer suburb of Perth. She wrote the manuscript, he made suggestions in these letters, then tidied up the text, took it to his publishers in London and New York, and undertook the business arrangements and contract for its publication.

Mollie Skinner was a novelist and nursing pioneer who was born in Western Australia in 1876. She returned to England in 1879 but resumed more or less permanent residence in WA in 1900. She and Lawrence collaborated on two novels, The Boy in the Bush published in 1924, and Eve in the Land of Nod which remained unpublished.

The Treasure

Further Reading

Lawrence, D.H. & Skinner, M.L., The Boy in the Bush, London: Martin Secker, 1924.

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