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Lady Chatterley Trial

2 November 1960

Lady Chatterley Trial

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  • Intro

    Despite having been published in Italy in the1920s, D. H. Lawrence’s last novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, became the subject of much controversy in Britain in the 1960s when Penguin Books sought to publish it. The book describes the explicit affair between Lady Chatterley and her working-class gamekeeper. The sexual scenes are described in detail, and were considered shocking by the British establishment at the time, as was the use of strong language.

     

    The trial of the publishers, Penguin Books, under the Obscene Publications Act was much publicised, with eminent writers such as E.M. Forster giving evidence in court. The court case also served to question Britain’s publishing and decency laws which were seen by some as old-fashioned. After a six day trial, and a three hour deliberation, the jury at the Old Bailey found Lady Chatterley’s Lover to be 'not' obscene. It was published a month later, and all 200,000 copies were sold on the first day. The success of the trial significantly affected the publishing world, giving it more freedom to launch books with explicit content. In 1988 The Broadcasting Standards Council was set up in order to regulate published material and levels of decency. 

     

    Image Copyright: John Frost Newspaper Archive

     

    Shelfmark: British Library Newspaper Archive

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