Odour of Chrysanthemums


D. H. Lawrence

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Odour of Chrysanthemums Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on D. H. Lawrence's Odour of Chrysanthemums. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of D. H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence grew up in a mining town as a frail child who was extremely close to his mother, a failed schoolteacher. He sympathized with her struggles as the wife of a coarse miner with a drinking problem, and many of his female protagonists—including Elizabeth in Odour of Chrysanthemums—similarly bear the challenges of difficult marriage. After Lawrence graduated from university, he became a schoolteacher, publishing poems and short stories at the same time. As his writing career grew, he left teaching and began to build a reputation as a controversial writer with works like The Rainbow, his second novel, which was seized by authorities for being obscene. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, were also viewed suspiciously in wartime England because of FriedaÕs German father, and the government asked them to leave in 1917. The couple traveled extensively afterwards, and Lawrence passed away in France in 1930.
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Historical Context of Odour of Chrysanthemums

In the late 19th century and early 20th century when Odour of Chrysanthemums was written, the coal mining industry was booming in England. Miners often lived in isolated villages where a majority of workers in the village were miners, and some communities had begun to form trade unions. Mining became a political issue due to the dangerous working conditions and low wages colliers faced. Lawrence's father was a miner himself, and likely served as inspiration for Walter's character in Odour of Chrysanthemums.

Other Books Related to Odour of Chrysanthemums

Lawrence won acclaim for many of his short stories, including The Rocking-Horse Winner and The Horse Dealer's Daughter.Odour of Chrysanthemums is one of his most highly regarded stories and was a major factor in launching his career, drawing the attention of Heinemann, a London publisher. A longer version of the story can be found in his collection, The Prussian Officer and Other Stories (1914).
Key Facts about Odour of Chrysanthemums
  • Full Title: Odour of Chrysanthemums
  • When Written: 1909
  • Where Written: 1909
  • When Published: 1911
  • Literary Period: Modernism
  • Genre: Short story
  • Setting: Mining town of Underwood, Nottinghamshire; early 20th century
  • Climax: Elizabeth and WalterÕs mother learn that Walter has died in a mining accident
  • Antagonist: Death
  • Point of View: Third person, primarily from ElizabethÕs perspective

Extra Credit for Odour of Chrysanthemums

Banned books. When Lawrence died, many of his contemporaries believed he had wasted his talents writing pornography. Due to the controversial and explicit nature of his work, his writing was responsible for some of the most famous censorship cases of the 20th century.

Sons and Lovers. Lawrence's mother hugely influenced his work. She was often overbearing and jealous—like Walter's mother in Odour of Chrysanthemums—and the female protagonist in his earliest masterpiece, Sons and Lovers, was based around the missed opportunities he perceived in her life.