ON THIS DAY    Witness      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1960: 'This book is a piece of history'

DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover was banned in the UK for more than 30 years because of its sexually explicit scenes and use of profane four-letter words.

The Obscene Publications Act of 1959 allowed publishers to escape conviction if they could show that a work was of literary merit. So Penguin printed off 200,000 copies and challenged the Director of Public Prosecutions to take the company to court.

After a much-publicised trial in 1960 the jury decided in favour of Penguin and within a year it had sold two million copies. Lady C, as it became known, has since been made into a film and a TV drama.

Your memories:

I was working in Ipswich Central Library. At this time the national Library Service was waiting on the outcome of the court case. We were not allowed to buy copies of the book for the general public until the jury verdict.

Copies were sold out in shops before libraries could order them. Demand for "Lady C" from library users meant many accusations of being "stuffy" and "old-fashioned were levelled at librarians, who had not been allowed a budget for so many copies of one book from their local authorities.
Gwen Williams, Wales

My grandad was a gamekeeper - suffice to say that when the book was published, my dad, who was at school at the time, got a right ribbing!
Scott, UK

As a 10-year-old I remember my 16-year-old sister bringing the book home in a brown paper sleeve. Mum thumbed through. On discovering the title she threw it onto the open coal fire. What a row!

Embarrassing for sister as she was the first reader of the syndicate of five who had clubbed together to buy the book.
Mike Hedley, UK

I was 10 when the book came out. I remember sneaking a copy off of a shelf from the local book shack.

I did not understand half of what was in it, but boy did I feel like the Great Train Robber!
Peter Bent, UK

I was in the third form at grammar school at the time, and our Geography mistress was one of the jurors at the Lady Chatterley trial.

You can imagine the reaction when, on her return to school, one brave soul said "Have you read any good books lately, Miss?"
Dimity, UK

I was 14 when the book came out, and worked after school and weekends for the Co-Op Butchers in Shaw (Oldham).

During my delivery rounds on the Saturday of the week that it came out I bought a copy and started to read it during my lunch break at the rear of the store.

Unfortunately one of the store staff was a staunch Catholic and almost had kittens when he saw what I was reading.

However the store manager was a bit more liberal and just told me to read it at home.
Peter Price, Canada

I wasn't around when the book was first published but I have read it and watched the television programme.

I believe that this book is a piece of history and there are far more explicit books on the market, so it is only right that they won the right to publish it. Go on, Lady C...
Claire Kelly, Belfast

Growing up in Belgium I studied English literature.

I remember the teacher told us about the book, advising not to show it in public but have it wrapped in brown paper so that nobody would know we were reading it.
Herman Dewulf, Belgium

When I first read Lady Chatterley. I revered the degree of insight, and literary brilliance of Lawrence.

I soon found out he had written a number of versions, the first being, John Thomas and Lady Jane. I found JT and LJ to be an extremely beautiful narrative: poetic, sensitive, and philosophical ... a literary masterpiece as relevant and alive as the time it was written, some 75 years ago.

People get mixed up over the plot and language Lawrence used .. they label it vulgar and obscene, but he was merely expressing a spiritual element which is pesent in the heart of humankind. The novel is almost as important as Ulysees or The Illyad.

Search ON THIS DAY by date   

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |