Keep this key piece of social history in the UK

£19,649 of £56,250 goal

Raised by 145 people in 2 months
The 1960 obscenity trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover was one of the most important cases in British literary and social history, and led to a significant shift in the cultural landscape. The trial highlighted the distance between modern society and an out-of-touch establishment, shown in the opening remarks of Mervyn Griffith-Jones, the lead prosecutor:

“Would you approve of your young sons, young daughters – because girls can read as well as boys – reading this book?

“Is it a book that you would have lying around in your own house? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?”

The book was published in Europe in 1928, but remained unpublished in the UK for thirty years following DH Lawrence’s death in 1930. Its narrative - of an aristocratic woman embarking on a passionate relationship with a groundskeeper outside of her sexless marriage - challenged establishment sensibilities, and publishers were unwilling to publish it through fear of prosecution.

However, it took the jury just three hours to reach a decision that the novel was not obscene, and, within a day, the book sold 200,000 copies, rising to more than 2 million copies in the next two years. The verdict was a crucial step in ushering the permissive and liberal sixties and was an enormously important victory for freedom of expression.

During the trial, the presiding judge, the Hon. Sir Laurence Byrne, referred to a copy of the book which had been annotated by his wife, Lady Dorothy Byrne. She had made notes of character names in the margins, underlined important sections, and had produced a list of page numbers relating to significant passages in the book (“love making”, “coarse”, etc).

This hand-annotated copy, which played an important part in an even more important trial, was recently sold at auction to an overseas bidder for £56,250.

Because of its unique importance in British history, the arts minister, Michael Ellis, has determined that it should remain in the UK, and has placed a temporary bar preventing its overseas export if a UK-based bidder can match its price.

English PEN works to support freedom of expression both in the UK and around the world. We believe that this historic artefact is of unique value and should remain in the UK, allowing the British public access to understand what is lost without freedom of expression.

Our aim is to raise £56,250 to keep this copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the UK. We will work with relevant organisations including the British Library and Arts Council England to identify an organisation who can house this artefact and guarantee its preservation.

If we are unable to secure the purchase of the book, any money we raise will go towards supporting the work of English PEN and defending freedom of expression, fighting for writers and readers around the world, or be returned to the donor at their request.

We want to ensure this piece of our cultural history remains in the UK. Please support us.
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Thanks so much to everyone who has supported the campaign so far - we are now more than a third of the way towards our target!

We're also very pleased to announce that PEN supporters Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer have generously donated five specially hand-annotated copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover for us to auction in order to raise additional funds. Amanda has also kindly offered a pair of tickets to any show on her tour ‘there will be no intermission‘ (in the UK/Ireland/Europe) to the successful bidders. The lots are now live on eBay.

Find out more and place your bids by 7 July!

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We're so grateful to have the support of Penguin, DH Lawrence's publisher, for our crowdfunding campaign and for their hugely generous donation.

(Image credit: The Penguin Archive, The University of Bristol)


"In its 84-year history, Penguin Books has led many seminal moments which have changed both the publishing and wider cultural landscape forever. From the moment the young publisher Allen Lane founded the company in 1935 – creating a paperback revolution that brought good writing to all – right through to the publication of Michelle Obama’s Becoming last year – we have always championed quality of writing, creativity, diversity of voice and freedom of expression.

Our decision to publish DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960 (in the face of a UK-wide ban of the book, sparking a subsequent court case) represents a cornerstone of our commitment to these values. We are delighted to be donating £10,000 to the crowdfunding campaign launched by English PEN – the worldwide writers’ association which promotes freedom of expression – to keep in the UK the original hand-annotated copy of the book which was used by the judge during the trial in 1960."
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'I do not regard Lady Chatterley’s Lover as obscene, and I should regard its suppression as deplorable'

- TS Eliot in a letter dated 19 August 1960 to Sir William Emrys Williams, then Editor in Chief at Penguin Books.

So grateful to everyone supporting our fundraiser to keep the judge's copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover accessible to the public! Special thanks to the TS Eliot Estate for their very generous contribution and to the team at 89up for all their support. Please do keep spreading the word.
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£19,649 of £56,250 goal

Raised by 145 people in 2 months
Funds raised will benefit:
The English Centre of PEN
Certified Charity
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London, London
Charity Number: 1125610
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