An "obscene" book on a woman's steamy affair was “forever banned” and taken to court over its explicit content.
D.H. Lawrence rattled the nation with his 1928 release of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which caused so much controversy that it took 32 years and a six-day trial for it to hit UK shelves.
The tale of an aristocratic woman's scandalous relationship with a working class man managed to evade banning orders in Italy but officials in Britain were not so open-minded.
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Lawrence's explicit description of sex and the use of the then-unprintable "f***" made sure Brits couldn't get their hands on a copy until publisher Penguin challenged the ruling in 1960.
In 1959 however, the Government introduced the Obscene Publications Act, with the aim to both strengthen the law concerning pornography and also to protect literature.
It created the publishing offence whereby it was an offence to publish material that was considered “obscene” – material that would deprave and corrupt persons who were likely to read, see or hear it.
At the same time however, any book considered obscene by some but that could be shown to have "redeeming social merit" might still be published.
This prompted Penguin to print off and store 200,000 copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, with the aim of completing a set of works by D.H. Lawrence to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death that year.
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Penguin then sent 12 copies to the Director of Public Prosecutions challenging him to prosecute, which he duly did.
The six-day trial at the Old Bailey began on October 27, 1960, and gripped the nation.
The jury, consisting of three women and nine men, were given copies in court, just before the trial began.
At the end of the first day, the judge adjourned the case, directing them to read the book but forbidding them from taking it home.
The defence produced 35 witnesses – both men and women – including bishops, leading literary figures, academics and even a headmaster, to speak in favour of the book.
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The lawyers had taken great pains to study the text in preparation for the trial, evident from prosecutor Mervyn Griffith-Jones who demonstrated in his opening to the jury that the words “f***” or “f***ing” occurred at least 30 times within the novel’s pages.
Ultimately however, the prosecution was unable to make a substantial case against the novel and at one point Mr Griffith-Jones shocked the jury by asking, “Is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?”
In the end, after three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict, with Penguin being acquitted.
Following the outcome of the trial, bookshops across the country sold out of Penguin’s first run of the controversial book, with 200,000 copies being sold on the first day alone.
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London's largest bookstore, W&G Foyle Ltd, said its 300 copies had gone in just 15 minutes and it had taken orders for 3,000 more copies.
Hatchards sold out in 40 minutes and also had hundreds of orders pending.
Selfridges sold 250 copies in minutes, with a spokesman telling the Times, "It's bedlam here. We could have sold 10,000 copies if we had had them."
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