David Herbert Lawrence was born in 1885 in Nottinghamshire, England where his father was a miner. His experience growing up in a coal-mining family provided much of the inspiration for Sons and Lovers. Lawrence had many affairs with women in his life, including a longstanding relationship with Jessie Chambers (on whom the character of Miriam is based), an engagement to Louie Burrows, and an eventual elopement to Germany with Frieda Weekley. Sons and Lovers was written in 1913, and contains many autobiographical details.
Many of Lawrence’s novels were very controversial because of their frank treatment of sex, and both The Rainbow and Lady Chatterley’s Lover were banned during his lifetime. This controversial treatment of sex is evident as well in Sons and Lovers; Lawrences fear of negative public opinion may have been one reason for his vague use of language and the obscure treatment of sex in the novel.