Weekly Writing Prompt #40

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?

Brandi Redd

Weekly Writing Prompt #29

Charlotte Brontë sent her manuscript of Jane Eyre to a publisher in London on this day in 1847 from the little railway station near her home at Haworth in the north of England. Fearing prejudice against a female author, Charlotte chose the pen name of Currer Bell. The first review of the novel from the Quarterly Review of Smith, Elder & Co was mixed, stating that it was 'a very remarkable book...it is impossible not to be spell-bound'. Their thoughts on the character of Jane, however, were decidedly less positive:

Jane Eyre, in spite of some grand things about her, is totally uncongenial to our feelings from beginning to end. We acknowledge her firmness – we respect her determination – we feel for her struggles; but, for all that the impression she leaves is that of a decidedly vulgar-minded woman – one whom we should not care for as an acquaintance, whom we should not seek as a friend, whom we should not desire for a relation, and whom we should scrupulously avoid for a governess.

Nevertheless, many applauded the work. It has even been said that the author William Makepeace Thackeray was so moved by it that he wept. Over the years, it has remained consistently in the bestseller lists and claims an affectionate place in bookshelves across the world, including mine.

This week's prompt is one of my favourites from the book. Enjoy!

Mahir Uysal

Weekly Writing Prompt #27

On the back of every Penguin Classic is the story of the paperback. This week in 1935, British publisher, Alan Lane's dream of something affordable and good to read on his train ride home (from meeting with Agatha Christie no less) was realised. Penguin Publishing was born and the subsequent 'paperback revolution' began. Penguin started reprinting quality fiction and nonfiction in low-cost paperback editions. Lane revolutionised publishing with the introduction of the first ten Penguin paperbacks. Within a year, more than one hundred titles were in print and one million Penguin books had been sold. As the rest of the publishing world caught on, quality books became more affordable and available to everyone. Today, more than 80 years later, more than 600 million paperbacks are sold annually worldwide. Who said print is dead?!

With the well-loved and battered Penguin Classic on everyone's bookshelf in mind, this weeks prompt should be a familiar one.

Sharon McCutcheon