Grove Press edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover from Morris Library Special Collections Research Center.
When D.H. Lawrence published Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1928, he expected that the book would be widely banned for sexual content and profanity, and thus elected to have 1,000 copies of the book printed privately in Italy. The novel caused a sensation among readers, and high demand led to the creation of dozens of pirated editions in the following years. Because of the unusual method of publication, Lawrence did not hold an international copyright for Lady Chatterley’s Lover, so he had little recourse for the fact that he received no money from the sale of the pirated books. The United States declared the book to be obscene in 1929, and many copies were seized in the mail or at Customs. Booksellers who attempted to offer copies of the novel were actively prosecuted throughout the country.
In 1959, Grove Press challenged the ban by publishing an unexpurgated edition of the novel with the intent to distribute it in the United States. The Grove edition was immediately banned by the U.S. Postmaster, which resulted in the trial Grove Press v. Christenberry.
The ban on the novel was lifted in federal district court; Judge Frederick van Pelt Bryan argued that community standards of the time allowed for broader freedom of expression in dealing with issues of sexuality. The decision was upheld on appeal, but copies of the novel continued to be suppressed in the mail and in individual communities for many years<. Text by Melissa A. Hubbard, Assistant Professor, Morris Library Special Collections Research Center.
To read Lady Chatterley's Lover, click here.
To learn more about the life of D. H. Lawrence, click here.