The Journal of the DH Lawrence Society of Australia

ISSN No: 1039-9658

Vol 19. No 1. June, 2012


HE DH Lawrence Society of Australia had much to celebrate on Sunday May 27in the Rose Garden Pavilion in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens.

First of all it was the 90th anniversary of the arrival in Sydney of Lawrence and Frieda.

Secondly, it was the 20th anniversary of the founding of the DH Lawrence Society of Australia - in the Rose Garden Pavilion in 1992.

A special anniversary cake was cut by outgoing President John Lacey, and in-coming President Rob Darroch offered a toast to DH Lawrence. Those present - more than 20 Lawrence "fans" - raised their glasses to the toast.

Artist Garry Shead, a patron of the Society, drew a special sketch of the occasion (see picture, right).

A three-minute-long AGM was then held where John Lacey expressed his regrets in having to resign due to continuous ill-health and Sandra Darroch thanked him for his 13 years of presidency, during which he took the Society on annual Harboor cruises on the historic VIP steam yacht, Lady Hopetoun, and a number of memorable steam train trips to Thirroul and other places of Lawrentian interest (see John Lacey's speech, page 2).

Outgoing President, John Lacey, cutting the Anniversary cake with Garry Shead and new committee member, Robert Whitelaw, looking on

Rob Darroch was elected the new President and Robert Whitelaw was elected to join the committee. Sandra Darroch remains Secretary and editor and publisher of Rananim, and Clif Barker, who was away in Berlin, stays on asTreasurer.

Sandra Darroch, on behalf of Treasurer Clif Barker, reported that the Society's finances were in good shape and that future talks and other events would be organised. She called for donations to help the Society, and Cerridwen Lee generously made a contribution.


Garry Shead's drawing of the
event, depicting Sandra
& Rob Darroch & John Lacey, with Paul Delprat and a
kangaroo behind them

Then followed a reading of the five entries in our Literary Competition to write the Missing Chapter that was excised from Lawrence's notebookswhen he wrote Kangaroo.

Rob Douglass was unfortunately away and unable to read his entry, titled "Chinatown", about an intriguing encounter Lawrence had with some mysterious Chinese during a trip up to Sydney from Thirroul. Rob Darroch read it on Rob Douglass's behalf.

Next, Sandra Darroch read her entry titled "Batten Down the Hatches" in which she told of how she had come upon the missing chapter which had been excised by Frieda because she was angry at what Lawrence had written about her in the chapter.

Third to be read was Lindsay Foyle's evocative chapter about Lawrence's visit to Sydney and a meeting with the family of Norman Lindsay.

Fourth was "Daemon", Rob Darroch's deeply-researched analysis of the correspondence Lawrence had recently received from England at the time of writing the missing chapter, and the influence one of the letters had had on him and the excised chapter.

Finally Paul Delprat told of how Lawrence met Paul's ancestor, the artist Julian Ashton. He illustrated his chapter "A Fellow Artist", with a drawing (see page 7).

The five entries were then voted on by those present and the winner was declared to be Paul Delprat, who was presented by Rob Darroch with a bottle of single-malt Scotch whisky.




By Sandra Darroch

NE of the most unusual, and amusing, books about DH Lawrence is Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage - Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence in which he sets out to write a book about Lawrence, but never actually gets around to doing so, yet produces a book that tells the reader a great deal about Lawrence.

This sort of contradictory conundrum seems to be part of Dyer's personality, as I discovered when I interviewed him for Rananim during his time in Sydney for Writers' Week.

In another of his books, Jeff in Venice, his protagonist Jeff (spelt with a J) is a freelance journalist (as Geoff himself is part of the time) who ruminates about the technique of interviewing. He decides after some years working as a journalist that the best technique is not to try to be smarter than the interviewee, but to appear rather stupid, thus making the interviewee feel superior.

So when we sat down at an outside table overlooking the Harbour and began the interview, I said to Geoff that I agreed with Jeff about the technique of interviewing. As I said this I felt as if I were looking into a mirror that reflected a mirror that reflected another mirror…

I refrained, however, from telling Geoff that he looked a lot younger than his 54 years. But I did grovel slightly, as the fictional Jeff did, when I asked the real Geoff if I could take his photograph.

Sandra Darroch interviewing Geoff Dyer

He said the reception of his book by Lawrence academics had been good, on the whole. But some scholars had been flummoxed, not knowing how to take such an unconventional book.

"I told people when I started that it was going to be a serious book about Lawrence because I needed their help. But I had always conceived of it as a 'crazy' book," Geoff said. A theme running through the book is Geoff's contention that Lawrence's best writing is in his poetry and his letters, not his novels.

Even now, Geoff still enjoys discovering new scraps of correspondence by Lawrence. He himself is now the proud owner of a letter by Lawrence to his sister-in-law, Else, in which he describes how he is writing less and less and painting more.

Geoff Dyer signs a copy of his book on
Lawrence for the Society

Geoff has the letter hanging in his study, framed so that both sides of it are visible.

He hadn't been to Australia when he wrote Out of Sheer Rage, but he has since visited our shores four times, and says that each visit makes him more aware of Lawrence's uncanny ability to see beneath the surface of Australia - to sense the dark presence of the original inhabitants.

Even though he has moved on from writing about Lawrence, Geoff still feels a strong affinity with him. "I feel this both as an Englishman and because like Lawrence, I come from the working class," he explained. "Lawrence was probably the first writer to emerge from the working class, the forerunner of John Osborne and all the others."

He regrets that Lawrence is no longer as highly-regarded by academics in England and Australia, and he also feels that Frieda should have had more attention paid to her.

Our conversation was then interrupted by Australian expat writer Kathy Lette, who came up to our table to tell Geoff she had organised a helicopter ride with local entrepreneur Dick Smith the next day.

"Make sure you ask Dick to fly you over Narrabeen," I said. "That was where Lawrence and Frieda got out at the tram terminus and walked to the lagoon where they had afternoon tea with the people who told him about the secret army."

Geoff said he'd make sure he saw the place where the "house set sideways to the lagoon" had been.

His publicist then arrived and gathered him up to take him to a radio interview, and I picked up the copy of his book he had signed. On the title page he had written:

"For the DH Lawrence Society of Australia from Geoff Dyer in Sydney 2012."