On the prosecution for obscenity in 1960 of D.H. Lawrence’s #LadyChatterley’sLover

music Beatles monument Ekaterinburg 812 2 (Beatles monument, Ekaterinburg, Russia, August 2012)

The opening statements of prosecution and defence having concluded, the court was required to consider how and where the members of the jury should read the book. The jury room was considered by Mr Justice Byrne as the appropriate place, notwithstanding [leading defence barrister] Gerald Gardiner’s submission that the ‘hard wooden chairs’ provided there were inimical to a comfortable reading of the novel.. In the end, the jury were given a special room provided with deep leather armchairs, and read in comfort. 

– Thomas Grant, Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories (2015)

The most famous moment of the trial is when prosecuting counsel invited the jury to ask yourselves the question when you read it through: would you approve of your young sons, young daughters – because girls can read as well as boys – reading this book? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read? My father, who loved Lawrence, had a copy of the Penguin edition of Lady Chatterley on his bookshelf. I certainly approve of him reading it, although I find it difficult to imagine discussing it with him.

Reading about the case is an excuse to look up Philip Larkin’s poem Annus Mirabilis:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP

I now realise that the dates in the Larkin poem are a bit odd: the Lady Chatterley case ended on 2 November 1960 while the Beatles’ first LP came out on 22 March 1963.

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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