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Whatever happened to...?

Jessie or May? This picture was given to the HFPS by Jessie and May's niece Ann Howard, on the back is written Jessie but we think she looks more like May. What do you think?

Muriel May Chambers b. 20/10/1883 was the second child of Edmund & Sarah. The eldest of the three daughters, she was the one who had the most contact with DH Lawrence during his initial interaction with her family. Always of an independent nature, May resented his insistence on helping her with her studies when she was training to be a school teacher. Later, she taught at the British School in Eastwood, at the same time as Lawrence was training there, before she took up a teaching post at Beauvale School.


May married William Holbrook, who had followed his father's profession as a stonemason, on 1/11/1906 at the Congregational Church in Eastwood. They moved to a cottage at 42 Moorgreen in 1909. On the 1911 census he is listed as being a self employed dairyman. May corresponded with DHL when he moved to Croydon & he called to see them on his brief return trips to Eastwood. This is the cottage he visited on the afternoon of his mother's death on 9/12/1910 & where he took Frieda & her children for a visit in April 1912. It is also the place where Jessie & Lawrence met for the last time on 21/4/1912. The correspondence between May & DHL continued for a short time after he left England & he disclosed to her that he was living with Frieda. The cottage was semi derelict for many years before it was eventually demolished.


42 Moorgreen - May and Bill Holbrook's home

The Holbrooks along with two of May's brothers, decided to emigrate to Canada. Bill & the brothers undertook the journey early in 1914 & May arrived in Canada a year later. She had a variety of teaching posts before eventually gaining a position near their homestead in Cuffley, Saskatchewan. May was a keen gardener, involved in many local organisations & enjoyed writing short stories about life in Canada. She also contributed to 'DH Lawrence: A Composite Biography' by Edward Nehls.


In 1949 May & Bill moved to a bungalow in Sydney, British Columbia, which had been left to them by a friend of May's & much of their time was spent updating the property. She corresponded regularly with David, her youngest brother & assisted him with his research into the Chambers & Oates families. May died in 1955 & William in 1960.


Carol Mills

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Haggs Farm

Home of Jessie Chambers 

Where DH Lawrence found his 'first incentive to write.'

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