The copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover used by the judge in the landmark obscenity trial in the 1960s has been acquired by Bristol University with FNL's support.

R v Penguin Books Ltd [1961] Crim LR 176 was a test case brought to assess the boundaries of the law and here it was the publisher rather than the author who faced a prosecution for obscenity. This copy of the novel was used by the judge during the trial and includes annotations made by Dorothy Byrne and added to by her husband Mr Justice Laurence Byrne.

Sold at auction by Sotheby’s in October last year to a private individual in the USA, this special copy of Lawrence’s novel, became the subject of export deferral by the UK Government.  A process was initiated to find a UK buyer who would match the auction price and provide access to the book for researchers and the public.

Professor Lois Bibbings, who worked with the University Library in constructing the University’s successful bid to acquire the novel said:

"It is wonderful to know that the judge’s copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover is coming to Bristol. Special Collections is where it belongs, where it can rest alongside the Penguin Archive and, more crucially, the trial papers of Michael Rubinstein, the solicitor who acted for Penguin Books Ltd in the obscenity trial.

"I am looking forward not only to studying the novel’s annotations myself but also to using the judge’s copy in specialist postgraduate teaching workshops later this term. For the first time our students will be able to view it alongside the transcripts of the trial and the defence notes."

Image: University of Bristol Library, Special Collections

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