The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd by D. H. Lawrence

The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd

A Drama in Three Acts


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subjects: Plays, Playscripts

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This play by the English writer D. H. Lawrence is the dramatised version of the author s short story Odour of Chrysanthemums. An entertaining play that is thoroughly recommended for inclusion on the bookshelf of all Lawrence lovers. Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.

67 pages, with a reading time of ~2.25 hours (16,801 words), and first published in 1914. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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The kitchen of a miner’s small cottage. On the left is the fireplace, with a deep, full red fire. At the back is a white-curtained window, and beside it the outer door of the room. On the right, two white wooden stairs intrude into the kitchen below the closed stair foot door. On the left, another door.

The room is furnished with a chintz-backed sofa under the window, a glass-knobbed painted dresser on the right, and in the centre, toward the fire, a table with a red and blue check tablecloth. On one side of the hearth is a wooden rocking-chair, on the other an armchair of round staves. An unlighted copper-shaded lamp hangs from the raftered ceiling. It is dark twilight, with the room full of warm fireglow. A woman enters from the outer door. As she leaves the door open behind her, the colliery rail can be seen not far from the threshold, and, away back, the headstocks of a pit.

The woman is tall and voluptuously built. She carries a basket heaped full of washing, which she has just taken from the clotheslines outside. Setting down the basket heavily, she feels among the clothes. She lifts out a white heap of sheets and other linen, setting it on the table; then she takes a woollen shirt in her hand.

MRS. HOLROYD (aloud, to herself)

You know they’re not dry even now, though it’s been as fine as it has. (She spreads the shirt on the back of her rocking-chair, which she turns to the fire)

VOICE (calling from outside)

Well, have you got them dry?

[Mrs. Holroyd starts up, turns and flings her hand in the direction of the open door, where appears a man in blue overalls, swarfed and greased. He carries a dinner-basket.


You–you–I don’t know what to call you! The idea of shouting at me like that–like the Evil One out of the darkness!


I ought to have remembered your tender nerves. Shall I come in?


No–not for your impudence. But you’re late, aren’t you?


It’s only just gone six. We electricians, you know, we’re the gentlemen on a mine: ours is gentlemen’s work. But I’ll bet Charles Holroyd was home before four.

MRS. HOLROYD (bitterly)

Ay, and gone again before five.


But mine’s a lad’s job, and I do nothing!–Where’s he gone?

MRS. HOLROYD (contemptuously)

Dunno! He’d got a game on somewhere–toffed himself up to the nines, and skedaddled off as brisk as a turkey-cock. (She smirks in front of the mirror hanging on the chimney-piece, in imitation of a man brushing his hair and moustache and admiring himself)


Though turkey-cocks aren’t brisk as a rule. Children playing?

MRS. HOLROYD (recovering herself, coldly)

Yes. And they ought to be in. (She continues placing the flannel garments before the fire, on the fender and on chair-backs, till the stove is hedged in with a steaming fence; then she takes a sheet in a bundle from the table, and going up to Blackmore, who stands watching her, says) Here, take hold, and help me fold it.


I shall swarf it up.

MRS. HOLROYD (snatching back the sheet)

Oh, you’re as tiresome as everybody else.

BLACKMORE (putting down his basket and moving to door on right)

Well, I can soon wash my hands.

MRS. HOLROYD (ceasing to flap and fold pillowcases)

That roller-towel’s ever so dirty. I’ll get you another. (She goes to a drawer in the dresser, and then back toward the scullery, where is a sound of water)


Why, bless my life, I’m a lot dirtier than the towel. I don’t want another.

MRS. HOLROYD (going into the scullery)

Here you are.

BLACKMORE (softly, now she is near him)

Why did you trouble now? Pride, you know, pride, nothing else.

MRS. HOLROYD (also playful)

It’s nothing but decency.

BLACKMORE (softly)

Pride, pride, pride!

[A child of eight suddenly appears in the doorway.


Oo, how dark!

MRS. HOLROYD (hurrying agitated into the kitchen)

Why, where have you been–what have you been doing now?


Why–I’ve only been out to play.

MRS. HOLROYD (still sharply)

And where’s Minnie?

[A little girl of six appears by the door.


I’m here, mam, and what do you think–?

MRS. HOLROYD (softening, as she recovers equanimity)

Well, and what should I think?


Oh, yes, mam–you know my father–?

MRS. HOLROYD (ironically)

I should hope so.


We saw him dancing, mam, with a paper bonnet.




There’s some women at “New Inn,” what’s come from Nottingham–


An’ he’s dancin’ with the pink one.


Shut up our Minnie. An’ they’ve got paper bonnets on–


All colors, mam!

JACK (getting angry)

Shut up our Minnie! An’ my dad’s dancing with her.