Lady Chatterley's Lover
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Lady Chatterley's Lover

LAWRENCE, D.H. Lady Chatterley's Lover.

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“Obscenity only comes in when the mind despises and fears the body, and the body hates and resists the mind.”

LAWRENCE, D.H. Lady Chatterley's Lover. Florence: Privately Printed, 1928.

8vo., rebound in full black morocco with half gilt border and title in gilt to lower corner; gilt titles in decorative borders to spine; marbled endpapers; pp. [vi], 3-307, [i]; with title vignette, chapter head illustrations, initials and headpieces designed by [Wallace Smith?]; a lovely, bright copy, the pages with a couple of damp marks and spots (some minor warping to the final few pages); the paper stock lightly and evenly toned.
Pirated Edition, the same year as the first. Lawrence first published his controversial eleventh novel privately in Italy, with copies then distributed to subscribers in the UK. Printing in this way cost Lawrence the ability to retain an international copyright, paving the way for the publication of numerous “pirated” editions.
Lady Chatterley's Lover tells of a passionate affair between an aristocrat, the titular Lady Chatterley, and Oliver Mellors, her husband’s gamekeeper. Albert Sperisen identifies the printer of this particular edition as Lawton Kennedy from San Francisco, who had been a partner in the Black Vine Press between 1935 and 1937. Wallace Smith (or an imitator thereof) is believed to be the illustrator, who is particularly noted for his fine press work as design, as well as a sinister pictorial narrative.
The novel was published the following year in France and Australia, with an unexpurgated edition not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960, when it was the subject of a watershed obscenity trial against the publisher, Penguin Books. During the trial, prosecutor Mervyn Griffith-Jones famously asked whether the novel was "a book that you would... wish your wife or your servants to read?", although Penguin were found not guilty after only three hours. The verdict helped to bring about a more liberal and permissive Britain, and over 3 million copies quickly sold.
The book was also banned for obscenity in the US, Canada, Australia, India and Japan for its story of the physical (and emotional) relationship between a working class man and an upper class woman, its explicit descriptions of sex, and its use of then-unprintable four letter words.
The judge’s own copy in the Penguin Obscenity trial, annotated by his wife, recently sold at auction for over £50,000.

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