Lady Chatterley’s Lover is no stranger to controversy and it seems the 1928 novel has had yet another ban enforced.
The controversial novel written by DH Lawrence was at the centre of an obscenity trial in 1960, and the copy used by the judge presiding over the case is now in further trouble. The copy belonging to the judge, Sir Laurence Byrne, is full of highlighted explicit passages, marked up by the judge’s wife Lady Dorothy.
The book was sold last year for £56,250 and the new owner planned to take it abroad but the book has been temporarily stopped from leaving the UK. The new owners must apply for a licence to take the book out of the UK as it is an ‘item of cultural significance’.
The UK government’s block means collectors have until 9 August to declare their intention to buy it and then up to three months longer to find the funds.
Michael Ellis, Arts Minister, has stated how he hoped a buyer would come forward to “keep this important part of our nation’s history in the UK”.
The decision was made by a committee of experts chaired by Sir Hayden Phillips, who declared the copy was part of one of the most important trials of the 20th century.
Phillips told the press:
“The high court judge presiding in his red robes, his wife beside him on the bench (as was allowed in those days) as a succession of singular and distinguished witnesses for the defence were cross examined day by day. I was 17 at the time and studying DH Lawrence as a set text for A-levels – it was not Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but at least I could follow the riveting course of the trial in the daily papers. It would be more than sad, it would be a misfortune, if this last surviving ‘witness’ left our shores.”
There is hope that a buyer will come forward in the UK and stop the historically important book from leaving our shores.