Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a somewhat infamous novel in the history of English literature. Written by D.H. Lawrence, the book was widely considered to be obscene when first published in 1928. Its stark depictions of the sexual relationship between a working class man and an upper class woman often employed language that, while commonplace today, had never before been printed in a novel. The appearance of uncensored versions decades later was often seen as a triumph of the sexual revolution.
The plot of Lady Chatterley’s Lover details the life of a young married woman, Constance, whose husband, the handsome and rich Clifford Chatterley, has been paralyzed in the First World War. Additionally, his emotional detachment, a result of PTSD, forces her into a sexual affair with Oliver Mellors, the gamekeeper.
Lawrence had the novel privately printed in Florence in 1928. A highly edited version appeared in Great Britain in 1932, as well as a censored version that had been published in the United States in 1928. A full, unexpurgated version did not appear in print in Great Britain until 1960, at which time the publisher was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959. The eventual not guilty verdict was seen as a vindication of literature and freedom of expression. In the United States, legal action kept the full version appearing until 1959. In Japan, the resulting obscenity trial, which ran from 1951 to 1952, led to a guilty verdict and fine for the publisher.