Copy of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ barred from leaving UK
An annotated copy of D.H. Lawrence’s novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” which featured sexual descriptions and prompted a much-publicized obscenity trial in the UK nearly 60 years ago, has been barred from leaving the country.
On Monday, UK Arts Minister Michael Ellis issued a temporary export block of the book in an effort to keep it inside Britain.
Last October, the book was sold at auction for a £56,250 ($72,921). While Ellis did not indicate where the auction winner lives, his statement says the copy is ‘at risk” of leaving the UK.
Monday’s temporary ban now gives a UK organization or individual up until October to match that buying price.
The 1960 criminal trial, which pitted publisher Penguin Books against the UK’s 1959 Obscene Publications Act, has been described as a turning point in Britain’s modern history, and one of the reasons that the arts minister is hopeful that it can find a buyer inside the country.
“The trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover captured the public attention in 1960,” Ellis said in a statement on Monday.
“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,” he added.
The famed copy was first owned and used by Judge Sir Laurence Byrne, who presided over the trial.
In preparation for court, Bryne’s wife Dorothy underlined up some of the most sexually explicit passages of the 118-page novel for her husband’s review, penciling in the words “love-making” and “coarse” where relevant. The judge also added notes.
After Penguin was acquitted, the book sold 3 million copies.
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) recommended the ban, saying that if the book left the UK it would be a blow to the country’s history.
In a statement, RCEWA Chairman Sir Hayden Phillips, said the book “may be the last surviving contemporary ‘witness’ who took part in the proceedings.”
“It would be more than sad, it would be a misfortune, if this last surviving ‘witness’ left our shores,” he added.
“Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” which was privately published in 1928 in Italy, was Lawrence’s final novel. It was not published in full in the UK until 1960, 30 years after his death, due to fear of prosecution.