This week, in 1960, bookstores across Britain were inundated when the controversial novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover went on sale for the first time. Penguin Books, had just emerged victorious from a sensational six-day trial where the company was accused of violating the Obscene Publications Act by publishing DH Lawrence’s story.
Britain was about to be overwhelmed by the ‘Swinging Sixties’ and this became one of the first signs of a new age of freedom and emancipation. The sexually explicit novel about an affair between an aristocrat’s wife and his gamekeeper was published in Italy in 1928 and in France the following year, but it had always been banned in the UK.
After the go-ahead from the court, Penguin couldn’t cope with demand and rationed its first 200,000 copies to booksellers across the country. All were sold on the first day. 300 copies sold from Foyles, the biggest bookshop in London, in the first 15 minutes and took orders for another 3,000. Within a year of the trial, Lady Chatterley’s Lover had sold two million copies.
In 1930, at the age of 44, Lawrence died of tuberculosis, defending his book to the last against those who accused him of pornography. He could hardly have imagined the sensation and vindication of the trial 30 years later. I wonder how he would feel about the books of today such as Fifty Shades of Grey.
This week’s prompt comes from the still controversial novel. Have you read it?