UK: important edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover acquired by the University of Bristol

University acquires judge's annotated copy of book at centre of obscenity trial.

The book had been sold at auction to an individual in the USA, but the UK government blocked the export of the work. Instead a campaign to raise matching funds to keep the book in the UK resulted in its acquisition by the University of Bristol.

This copy of the work was used by Mr Justice Byrne at the trial at the Old Bailey. It will be housed in the University Library’s special collections as part of the Penguin [publishing] Archive. Related material, also held at Bristol, includes transcripts of the trial, press cuttings, photographs, papers and personal copies of the book held by key Penguin staff.

It also features the archives of Michael Rubinstein, Penguin’s lawyer in the trial, including his working papers, witness statements and correspondence with witnesses and potential witnesses.

This article, by English Pen, explains the importance of the trial. Here's an extract:

The 1960 obscenity trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover was one of the most important cases in British literary and social history, and led to a significant shift in the cultural landscape. The trial highlighted the distance between modern society and an out-of-touch establishment, shown in the opening remarks of Mervyn Griffith-Jones, the lead prosecutor:

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 have lying around in your own house? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?

However, it took the jury just three hours to reach a decision that the novel was not obscene, and, within a day, the book sold 200,000 copies, rising to more than 2 million copies in the next two years.

The verdict was a crucial step in ushering the permissive and liberal sixties and was an enormously important victory for freedom of expression.

Sources:BBCUniversity of Bristol;English Pen.