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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.”

a few words about the dialect


by amy stoller

espite its setting in a mining village near Lawrence’s hometown, there is relatively little mining jargon in The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd. The language is the dialect of the area, different (but not always by much) from various other dialects of England’s industrialized Midlands and North. The accent, however, differs considerably from other English accents (and even more from American).

Top: The wives of miners, 1912. Below: Easton Bristol coalfield, 1911.

Here are some features that may be new to you. Tha/ta/tuh and thee/thay are local variants of you; thi is used for your. Note (naught) means nothing and ote (aught) means anything. Parents are referred to as me father or me dad, me mother or me mam, when speaking to others—even other close relatives. And when calling a relative by name, local folk often preface it with our, as when Minnie says “Come back, our Jack.”

One last word may be helpful: Mrs Holroyd’s £120 legacy is a bit more than Holroyd would have earned in a year.

the dialect

Negative contractions end in “na” instead of “n’t.” So we hear are’na, isna, wasna, worna/were’na (aren’t, isn’t, wasn’t, weren’t); canna, dunna, munna, wunna (can’t, don’t, mustn’t won’t); didna (didn’t); hanna/hadna or ’anna/’adna (haven’t); and so forth. Other common words include han or ’an (have); wi’ (with); gev (gave, given); meck, teck (make, take); s’ll (shall); on (of); non (not); summat (somewhat, something). She is sometimes her or ’er. And the word that can become what or as (as in who or which), or yon (as in that man).

Profile for Mint Theater Company

The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd Program  

By D.H. Lawrence Directed by Stuart Howard

The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd Program  

By D.H. Lawrence Directed by Stuart Howard