Women in Love (1920) is a novel by British author D. H. Lawrence. It is a sequel to his earlier novel The Rainbow (1915), and follows the continuing loves and lives of the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun and Ursula. Gudrun Brangwen, an artist, pursues a destructive relationship with Gerald Crich, an industrialist. Lawrence contrasts this pair with the love that develops between Ursula Brangwen and Rupert Birkin, an alienated intellectual who articulates many opinions associated with the author. The emotional relationships thus established are given further depth and tension by an intense psychological and physical attraction between Gerald and Rupert. The novel ranges over the whole of British society before the time of the First World War and eventually concludes in the snows of the Tyrolean Alps. Ursula’s character draws on Lawrence’s wife Frieda and Gudrun’s on Katherine Mansfield, while Rupert Birkin’s has elements of Lawrence himself, and Gerald Crich is partly based on Mansfield’s husband, John Middleton Murry.
Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen are sisters living in The Midlands in England in the 1910s. Ursula is a schoolteacher, Gudrun a painter. They meet two men who live nearby, school inspector Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich, heir to a coal-mine, and the four become friends. Ursula and Birkin begin a romantic friendship, while Gudrun and Gerald eventually begin a love affair.
All four are deeply concerned with questions of society, politics, and the relationship between men and women. At a party at Shortlands, the Creches’ country manor home, Gerald’s sister Diana drowns. Gudrun becomes the teacher and mentor of Gerald’s youngest sister. Soon, Gerald’s coal-mine-owning father dies as well, after a long illness. After the funeral, Gerald goes to Gudrun’s house and spends the night with her while her parents sleep in another room.
Birkin asks Ursula to marry him, and she agrees. Gerald and Gudrun’s relationship, however, becomes stormy.
The two couples take a holiday together in the Alps. Gudrun begins an intense friendship with Loerke, a physically puny but emotionally commanding artist from Dresden. Gerald, enraged by Loerke and most of all by Gudrun’s verbal abuse and rejection of his manhood, and driven by his own internal violence, tries to strangle Gudrun. Before he has killed her, however, he realises that this is not what he wants, and he leaves Gudrun and Loerke and climbs the mountain, eventually slipping into a snowy valley where he falls asleep and freezes to death.
The impact of Gerald’s death upon Birkin is profound. The novel ends a few weeks after Gerald’s death, with Birkin trying to explain to Ursula that he needs Gerald as he needs her; her for the perfect relationship with a woman, and Gerald for the perfect relationship with a man