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Ellis, David

ELLIS, David

PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Kent, M.A. and Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—School of English, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, England CT2 7NX. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: University of Kent, Canterbury, England, currently professor emeritus of English.

AWARDS, HONORS: English Association fellowship.


Wordsworth and Freud and the Spots of Time:Interpretation in the Prelude, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1985.

(With Howard Mills) D. H. Lawrence's Non-Fiction:Art, Thought, and Genre, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1988.

(Editor with Ornella de Zorda) D. H. Lawrence: Critical Assessments, four volumes, Helm Information (London, England), 1992.

(Editor) Imitating Art: Biography and the Search forUnderstanding, Pluto Press (Boulder, CO), 1993.

D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, 1922-1930 (third volume in biography series), Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Literary Lives: Biography and the Search for Understanding, Routledge (New York, NY), 2000.

SIDELIGHTS: David Ellis has devoted his professional life to the study of English literature, paying particular attention to twentieth-century authors and is considered a leader in the study and criticism of British novelist D. H. Lawrence. Ellis is an emeritus professor of English literature at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

In D. H. Lawrence's Non-Fiction: Art, Thought, and Genre Ellis examines the travel writing and the material Lawrence produced on psychology, while coauthor Howard Mills considers Lawrence's literary criticism. Both authors argue that, for Lawrence, nonfiction served as an opportunity for experimentation, and was part of his efforts to find a genre that suited his expressive needs. Though Kingsley Widmer in Modern Fiction Studies faulted the book's scholarship and analysis, the critic found the essays "earnest and sometimes sensitive." Modern Language Review contributor Mark Kalnins, on the other hand, praised D. H. Lawrence's Non-Fiction as "discerning, lively, and critically illuminating."

Ellis's four-volume collection D. H. Lawrence: Critical Assessments, which he edited with Ornella de Zorda, includes a chronology of the subject's life, biographical and critical studies, and bibliographies. Also included are the poetry and nonfiction, the short fiction, including novellas and short stories, and the critical responses to these works. Ellis is the author of the third volume in the Cambridge University Press three-volume biography of Lawrence. D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, 1922-1930 covers the final years of Lawrence's life in 537 pages of text and 250 pages of notes. Lawrence wrote and traveled extensively in his final years, and details of these trips are presented, as are accounts of the subject's turbulent personal relationships. Critics have praised Ellis for his careful scholarship and insightful commentary. Chris Wood-head in New Statesman found the book "meticulously researched" and noted that "Every testament is weighed judiciously, every incident explored from every possible angle." Woodhead concluded that "We are unlikely to have a more definitive account of Lawrence's final years." Sandra Gilbert wrote in London Review of Books that "Ellis has scrupulously accumulated a host of fascinating details illuminating every facet of the writer's life," making D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game difficult to put down. As Tony Tanner observed in the Times Literary Supplement, the job of writing this final biographical volume "could not have been better done. It is a most impressive achievement, and fully maintains the quite exemplary high scholarly standards adhered to by the first two volumes."

Literary Lives: Biography and the Search for Understanding investigates issues Ellis thinks should matter most to biographers. His concern is primarily with the underlying principles of literary biography and the responsibilities of the biographer. "Biography is not a scientific discipline," he writes, "but then neither should it be one in which anything goes." He argues that the writing of a life must establish facts and also offer reasonable explanation and interpretation for those facts as they have accumulated to form a life. Ellis, according to Hermione Lee in New York Review of Books, "is considering, judicious, somewhat wry, and frequently inconclusive," but Lee does not necessarily consider this inconclusiveness a shortcoming. She writes: "In biography, Ellis says, incompatibles don't have to be resolved; 'totalizing' biographies make him develop a 'fondness for loose ends . . . inconclusiveness and disorder.'"



Biography, summer, 1996, William H. Epstein, review of Imitating Art: Essays in Biography, pp. 304-307.

Choice, March, 1989, J. C. Kohl, review of D. H.Lawrence's Non-Fiction: Art, Thought, and Genre, p. 1156; February, 2001, C. Rollyson, review of Literary Lives: Biography and the Search for Understanding, p. 1076.

Essays in Criticism, October, 2000, Hermione Lee, review of Literary Lives, pp. 297-305.

London Review of Books, March 19, 1998, Sandra Gilbert, review of D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, 1922-1930, pp. 9-10.

Modern Fiction Studies, summer, 1989, Kingsley Widmer, review of D. H. Lawrence's Non-Fiction, pp. 332-334.

Modern Language Review, January, 1990, Mara Kalnins, review of D. H. Lawrence's Non-Fiction, pp. 166-168.

New Statesman, January 16, 1996, Chris Woodhead, review of D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, p.44.

New York Review of Books, April 12, 2001, Hermione Lee, review of Literary Lives, pp. 53-57.

Philosophy and Literature, April, 2001, Michael McClintick, review of Literary Lives, pp. 171-173.

Reference Book Review, 1993, review of D. H.Lawrence: Critical Assessments, pp. 26-27.

Review of English Studies, May, 1990, Karen McLeod Hewitt, review of D. H. Lawrence's Non-Fiction, pp. 285-288.

Spectator, January 24, 1998, William Scammell, review of D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, pp. 32-34.

Times Literary Supplement, January 9, 1998, Tony Tanner, review of D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, pp. 3-4.


University of Kent Web site, (December 13, 2002).*

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