The Lady Chatterley trial ended sixty years ago today, when the twelve jurors, three women and nine men, unanimously returned a verdict of ‘not guilty’. Hannah Lowery, Archivist, outlines relevant holdings in the Penguin Archive at University of Bristol Library, Special Collections.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) had been privately published in Italy and France in the 1920s. In 1960 Penguin published a set of books by D.H. Lawrence to mark thirty years since his death, including the first full and unexpurgated version of the notorious novel to be made widely available in the UK. The publisher was then prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the watershed trial was held at the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court) in London from 20 October to 2 November 1960, Sir Lawrence Byrne presiding.
In October 2019, the University of Bristol received Mr Justice Byrne’s marked copy of the Penguin edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, as well as four handwritten pages of notes by Dorothy Lady Byrne and a hand sewn cloth bag, all of which Mr Justice Byrne had taken into court each day. This momentous book and associated items were acquired following a crowd funding appeal, with help from PEN England, Penguin Books, Friends of the National Libraries (FNL), the Penguin Collectors Society, and many kind individuals.
It is catalogued at DM2936.
Special Collections has held on deposit since the 1960s, extensive archives relating to the history of Penguin Books. Allen Lane and his brothers John and Richard lived in Bristol, setting up the company in 1935. As well as archives still belonging to Penguin Books (such as editorial files), the collection here has been a catalyst for additional gifts to the University, for which we are immensely grateful. Some of these have a distinctly ‘Lady Chatterley’ theme:
The papers of Michael Rubinstein, the lawyer who defended Penguin at the obscenity trial, are in DM1679.
DM1294 consists of items collected in 1985 to celebrate fifty years of Penguin Books, including papers relating to the trial, such as the court summons, a telegram from August 1960 calling Allen Lane back from Spain for the impending trial, and tickets for courtroom seats.DM1819: Allen Lane’s filing cabinets contain additional materials relating to the trial.
Boxes 1, 12, 13, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 33-37
DM1843: Eunice Frost materials relating to the trial.
Boxes 1, 27, 34, 53, 62, 68, 72, 73
DM2097/1 and DM2129/1: Proof copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
DM2725/4/12: Papers belonging to Hans and Tanya Schmoller relating to the Lady Chatterley Trial.
A search of the online archive catalogue includes 106 entries relating to Lady Chatterley.
Also in Special Collections are:
Copies of D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, in many different editions, with a range of cover designs.
C.H. Rolph editor, The trial of Lady Chatterley: Regina v. Penguin Books Limited, Penguin Special (S192), 1961 (transcript of the trial).
Montgomery Hyde (ed.), The Lady Chatterley’s Lover Trial (The Bodley Head Ltd., 1990).
D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, with notes by Steve Hare, Penguin Books, 2010, including copies of materials held in the Penguin Archive in Bristol.
And a wealth of other materials.
Sir Laurence Byrne (17 September 1896 – 1 November 1965) presided over the Old Bailey case, and his wife Dorothy (Dorothy Frances Tickell, born 1894, married 1928) was also present, taking notes on court notepaper, and marking up passages in the book, so it could easily be referred to. Byrne’s obituary can be found in ‘The Times’ of 2 November 1965, where he is described as ‘an outstanding advocate’. An article by Barbara Rich sheds more light on Dorothy Byrne. Details can also be found about Dorothy Byrne in Penguin Collectors Society publications.
Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about Lady Chatterley related materials in the Penguin Book Archive at the University of Bristol Library Special Collections.