Back Print this page
Legalbrief   |   your legal news hub Friday 15 November 2019

Lady Chatterley's Lover to stay in UK, for now

A copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, used by a judge at the book’s landmark 1960 obscenity trial, with all the rude bits carefully and dutifully marked up by his wife, has been temporarily stopped from leaving the UK. According to a report in The Guardian, the Arts Minister, Michael Ellis, has placed an export bar on a copy of the DH Lawrence novel taken in to court by Sir Laurence Byrne. The government now hopes a UK-based buyer will be able to match the £56 250 asking price. The decision was made on the advice of a committee of experts chaired by Sir Hayden Phillips, who said the copy was a ‘witness’ to one of the most important criminal trials of the 20th century. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was Lawrence’s final novel before his death in 1930 and tells the story of an aristocratic wife trapped in a sexless marriage, finding passion with a handsome, lusty gamekeeper. It was not published in full in Britain until 1960 because of fear of prosecution. The trial at the Old Bailey, a test case for the 1959 Obscene Publications Act, was a sensation, a clash between the out-of-touch establishment and the permissive society of the 60s. It took just three hours for the jury to decide that the book did not deprave and corrupt, helping to redefine British attitudes to sex. Ellis said: ‘The trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover captured the public attention in 1960. It was a watershed moment in cultural history, when Victorian ideals were overtaken by a more modern attitude. I hope that a buyer can be found to keep this important part of our nation’s history in the UK.’