Saved at the tip! Century-old postcard from D H Lawrence

 
Credit: Hansons
Credit: Hansons
 
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A postcard penned by celebrated English writer and poet D H Lawrence to a young woman in Nottinghamshire more than 100 years ago almost ended up lost forever in a rubbish skip.

It’s relieved owner Mrs Patricia Endean-Rowe, 71, a retired teacher, from Eakring, Nottinghamshire, said: “It was literally saved at the tip four years ago. Our family always knew about the card but thought it’d been lost years ago. My late mother, Ella Walker, couldn’t remember where she’d put it.

“After she passed away, we had to clear her bungalow. A relative was about to throw a plastic box into a skip at Bilsthorpe tip but, just before he did, gave it a shake – and realised something was inside. It was the D H Lawrence postcard sent to one of my great aunts more than a century ago.”

Nellie Holderness. Credit: Hansons
Nellie Holderness. Credit: Hansons

The handwritten and signed postcard is now set to be sold at Hansons Auctioneers’ Library Auction on July 31 with an estimate of £200-£250.

It was sent to Miss N Holderness, School House, Eakring, near Newark, around 1911 – and reveals a long-forgotten friendship with a Nottinghamshire family.

The D H Lawrence postcard, circa 1910.
The D H Lawrence postcard, circa 1910.

The four Holderness sisters, Nellie (Ellen Mary), Mabel, Elsie and Kitty, became acquainted with David Herbert Lawrence as Kitty was at teacher training college with him in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.

Their father, George Holderness, was a schoolmaster in Eastwood, Notts, where Lawrence was born.

The postcard features a picture of Old School House and Rock Cottages, Shirebrook, and D H Lawrence was far from impressed by the north Derbyshire town.
He wrote to Nellie: ‘I have got here but had to bike – not a single train. It is an awful fag. Shirebrook is a most hideous place – I contrast it with Eakring. Keep well – love to all – D H Lawrence’.

The Holderness family, back from left, Nellie, Kitty. Their parents George and Catherine. Front from left, Mabel and Elsie. Credit: Hansons
The Holderness family, back from left, Nellie, Kitty. Their parents George and Catherine. Front from left, Mabel and Elsie. Credit: Hansons

Mrs Endean-Rowe said: “Kitty Holderness, my grandmother, went to college in Ilkeston with D H Lawrence. They were trainee teachers together. Family legend has it that Lawrence was enamoured with Kitty but we don’t know that for certain.

“Lawrence also gave two signed books to Kitty, a copy of Sons and Lovers and a poetry book, so they must have been fairly close.

“George Holderness became head of Eakring School and Lawrence visited the family at the School House. I’m told my great grandfather gave the author a wonderful reference for a teaching job in London. Lawrence wrote about a headmaster once and we did wonder if it was based on our great grandfather.

Nellie Holderness. Credit: Hansons
Nellie Holderness. Credit: Hansons

“Kitty was the only sister to have children, one of whom was my father. The sisters were all prolific postcard collectors.”
John Worthen, Emeritus Professor at the University of Nottingham, said the card was probably sent to Nellie on August 20, 1911, when her father, George, was running Eakring Public Elementary School.

Mr Worthen said: “Lawrence stayed with the family in Eakring from August 13-16, 1911. On August 19 he cycled to visit Alice and Henry Dax in Shirebrook and on August 20 sent his fiancée, Louie Burrows, a postcard featuring the same picture.”

Kitty and Elsie Holderness with children at Eakring School. Credit: Hansons
Kitty and Elsie Holderness with children at Eakring School. Credit: Hansons

Jim Spencer, books expert and associate director at Hansons, said: “This is a wonderful find. Lawrence is one of England’s most famous literary figures whose work created much controversy when first published. His impact is still felt today and some of his books, such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover, have been adapted for film and television.
“When you consider he was born in 1885 and died aged only 44 in 1930 that’s quite an achievement.”

The postcard will be sold on July 31 at Hansons’ Library Auction, Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, ST17 0XN. To find out more, email jspencer@hansonsauctioneers.co.uk.

Hansons offers free valuations in Nottinghamshire and will be at Newark Civil War Centre, 14 Appleton Gate, Newark, NGY 1JY, on August 6, 10am-1pm.

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