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  Linguistics, Languages, and LiteraturesEnglish Literature1900-1960


Lady Chatterley's Lover

a novel by D.H. Lawrence that became famous as the subject of an obscenity trial

Penguin Books 1960 edition of Lady Chatterley's LoverLady Chatterley's Lover was first published privately in Florence, Italy, in 1928. The story concerns a young married woman, Constance (Lady Chatterley), whose upper class husband, Clifford Chatterley, has been paralyzed from the waist down due to an injury suffered during World War I. Her husband's inability to satisfy her sexually leads Constance into an affair with a gamekeeper, introducing both sex and class conflicts into the novel, which quickly became known for its explicit descriptions of sex and use of "naughty words." A heavily censored, abridged version of Lady Chatterley's Lover was published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf in 1928, and Martin Secker published a "toned down" version in Great Britain in 1932.

lining up to buy Lady Chatterley's LoverThe first full unexpurgated edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover to appear in the United Kingdom was published by Penguin Books in 1960. By publishing the work, Penguin became the test case for the Obscene Publications Act of 1959, which allowed publishers to escape conviction if they could show that a work was of literary merit. The six-day trial was a major public event, and ended with the jury returning a "not guilty" verdict on November 2, 1960.

Left: Cover the Penguin Books 1960 edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Right: Eager customers queue up in front of a London bookstall to purchase copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover in November 1960.

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  The Robinson Library > Linguistics, Languages, and Literatures > English Literature > 1900-1960

This page was last updated on 12/17/2015.

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