Lady Chatterley's Lover Export Bar.jpg
A copy of DH Lawrence’s infamous novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, used by the judge who presided over the 1960 obscenity trial. The judge, Sir Lawrence Byrne, carried the book into the trial in a damask bag stitched by his wife, Lady Dorothy Byrne. The book has annotated notes and she also made notes on Central Criminal Court-headed notepaper on her opinion of the language used in the book.

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The government announced earlier this week that it had temporarily stopped the export of the book used in the infamous obscenity trial.

The annotated copy of DH Lawrence’s work once belonged to Sir Laurence Byrne, the judge who presided over the 1960 case.

The trial is now regarded as a defining moment in British social history, marking the move toward a more liberal and permissive society. The prosecution asked the now famous question: “Is it a book that you would have lying around in your own house? Is it a book that you would wish your wife or your servants to read?”

Lady Chatterley's Lover annotations.jpg

Notes on Central Criminal Court-headed notepaper made by Lady Dorothy Byrne, wife of Sir Lawrence Byrne, the presiding judge over the infamous 1960 obscenity trial.

Philippe Sands QC, president of English PEN, said: “DH Lawrence was an active member of English PEN and unique in the annals of English literary history. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was at the heart of the struggle for freedom of expression, in the courts and beyond.

“This rare copy of the book, used and marked up by the judge, must remain in the UK, accessible to the British public to help understand what is lost without freedom of expression. This unique text belongs here, a symbol of the continuing struggle to protect the rights of writers and readers at home and abroad.”

This copy of the book was sold at the auction of the collection of Stanley J Seeger at Sotheby’s in October 2018 for a hammer price of £45,000.

The government is asking for a buyer to match the £56,250 asking price (the hammer price plus fees) to keep it in the UK.

The decision on the export licence application for the book will be deferred until August 9, which could be extended until October 9. 

People interested in supporting the English PEN campaign can visit the GoFundMe page here.