In 2003, New York audiences were introduced to D. H. Lawrence—the playwright—with a highly acclaimed production of THE DAUGHTER IN LAW. Five years later, Mint Theater returned to the same literary well with a production of Lawrence’s searing 1910 drama, THE WIDOWING OF MRS. HOLROYD

The story of a wife and mother trying desperately to make a safe home amidst the coarseness and grime of a coal mining village in England, Lawrence’s grim naturalist drama was so ahead of its time that it was not produced until 1916; receiving its world premiere in Los Angeles where it was hailed for its startling realism.

Eighty-seven years later, Lawrence’s neglected masterpiece received equally exuberant reviews. The New York Times hailed the production as “psychologically probing and characteristically intelligent.”1Frank Scheck of the New York Post echoed this praise, claiming “The Mint Theater has done it again… Stuart Howard’s atmospheric staging and the fine performances by the ensemble fully bring out the work’s strengths…THE WIDOWING OF MRS. HOLROYD demonstrates that the author never got his proper due as a playwright.”2

D.H. Lawrence was born in 1885 in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. He is best known as the author of Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love and the notorious Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), which was considered to be obscene and was widely banned; Chatterley was not officially legal in England until 1960.
Lawrence is the author of eight full-length plays, none of which he ever saw onstage in his lifetime (including The Daughter-In-Law, produced by The Mint in 2003). Though it seems that he never shook off the black mark of rabid literary censorship, his works remain to this day celebrated studies of human passion and desperation. At the time of his death, much of the public regarded him as a pornographer rather than a literary genius; yet in Lawrence’s obituary notice, E.M. Forster cited him as “the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation.”

Lawrence began to write plays at the same time he was establishing himself as a professional writer. In November 1909, his first works were published, a series of poems in the literary journal, The English Review. That year, he also began writing his earliest plays, inspired by his troubled childhood in a Midlands mining town.

Lawrence finished his second play, The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd by November, 1910. The play had its roots in an earlier short story, “The Odour of Chrysanthemums,” Lawrence wrote about the stormy relationship between his coalminer father and schoolteacher mother. Lawrence tried to get Mrs. Holroyd published or performed, but like all his plays, it baffled potential backers. His unconventional subject matter (working class life), rejection of standard dramatic convention, and use of Yorkshire dialect were anathema to the era’s theatrical protocol. Even Harley Granville Barker, the innovative playwright/producer who helped open the English stage to serious social debate, politely refused Mrs. Holroyd.
Finally, after a three-year struggle, Lawrence found a publisher, the American Mitchell Kennerly. Kennerly had previously published Lawrence’s second novel, The Trespasser. Once he read Mrs. Holroyd, he was eager to include it in his catalog. Accordingly, in April, 1914, the play was added to Kennerley’s “Modern Drama” series, alongside works by such leading dramatists as Ibsen, Strindberg, and Andrejev. Lawrence, so misunderstood in his own country, was the only English dramatist included in the series. In his introduction, editor Edwin Bjorkman writes:

In the hands of this writer, barely emerged out of obscurity, sex becomes almost a new thing. Not only the relationship between man and woman, but also that of mother and child is laid bare in a new light which startles — or even shocks — but which nevertheless compels acceptance. One might think that Mr. Lawrence had carefully studied and employed the very latest theories of such men as Freud, for instance, and yet it is a pretty safe bet that most of his studies have been carried on in his own soul, within his own memories.

Contrary to Lawrence’s hopes, publication did not result in an immediate production. It was not until 1916, that Mrs. Holroyd had its first production, at Los Angeles’ Little Theatre for one night only. The play was hailed as “poignant, gripping and vivid” but derided for being “repellently gruesome” in its realism. Consequently, the play did not become popular.
It was not until nearly forty years after Lawrence’s death that his reputation as a dramatist became assured. In 1968, acclaimed director Peter Gill revived three of Lawrence’s plays, including Mrs. Holroyd, The Daughter-in-Law and A Collier’s Friday Night at London’s Royal Court Theatre. Critics hailed Lawrence’s play as a major “new” discovery. The critic for The London Times wrote that Mrs. Holroyd was “a union of naturalism and ritual, which, in the depths of its grief and the dignity of its sorrow, none of the masters of ritual have surpassed, and few have equaled.”


More photos »


  • Mrs. Holroyd Julia Coffey
  • Holroyd Eric Martin Brown
  • Blackmore Nick Cordileone
  • Jack Holroyd Dalton Harrod /
    Lance Chantiles-Wertz
  • Minnie Holroyd Emma Kantor / Amanda Roberts
  • Grandmother Randy Danson
  • Rigley James Warke
  • Ciara Pilar Witherspoon
  • Laura Sheila Stasack
  • Manager Allyn Burrows
  • Miner Arthur Lazalde


  • Set Design Marion Williams
  • Costume Design Martha Hally
  • Lighting Design Jeff Nellis
  • Sound Design Jane Shaw
  • Properties Design Deborah Gaouette
  • Dialects and Dramaturgy Amy Stoller
  • Fight Choreographer Michael G. Chin
  • Casting
    Stuart Howard, Amy Schecter & Paul Hardt
  • Production Stage Manager Allison Deutsch
  • Assistant Stage Manager Andrea Jo Martin
  • Assistant Director Quin Gordon
  • Press Representative David Gersten & Associates
  • Illustration Stefano Imbert
  • Graphics Hunter Kaczorowski


Gregory F. Tague, associate professor of English at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, is the author of Character and Consciousness (2005), Ethos and Behavior (2008), and, most recently, is the editor ofOrigins of English Literary Modernism, 1870-1914 (2009).


Jonathan Bank and Mint’s resident dialect designer and coach, Amy Stoller, invite audiences for brunch at Le Petit Un Deux Trois and a primer on the Midlands dialect that Lawrence employs.


Elizabeth Fox is the current President of the D.H. Lawrence Society of North America, and has delivered and published papers using psychoanalytic theory to explore Lawrence’s works. Elizabeth teaches at MIT and The New England Conservatory of Music.


Jeffrey Berman is Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the University at Albany and the author of ten books, including Dying to Teach: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Learning.


Formerly an arts journalist for Back Stage and for 26 years, Victor Gluck is currently a drama critic for He has been a voting member of the Drama Desk, Outer Critic Circle, and American Theatre Critics Association since 1980.


Martin Meisel, Brander Matthews Professor Emeritus of Dramatic Literature, Columbia University and author of How Plays Work, draws upon his recently published book in discussing THE WIDOWING OF MRS. HOLROYD. Meisel articulates some of the most important aspects of drama as a performed art while exploring their workings in Lawrence’s play.

In this 90 minute session, Meisel examines how a play defines its world; how it creates and redirects expectation; how it organizes space and time; how it shapes action, uses words, creates meanings; and how, at its most fulfilling, it combines the experience of wonder with that of involved witnessing.