This worn Penguin paperback provides a fascinating insight into legal and publishing history in this country. It paved the way for social reform far beyond D. H. Lawrence’s colourful text.
A test case of the Obscene Publications Act 1959, initiated by Penguin Books, was presided over by Mr Justice Byrne in 1960. Assisted by his wife, Byrne used this annotated copy of the novel together with page references and further notes made during the trial. The role of Mrs Byrne, including crafting a small damask bag to discreetly transport the book to court, provides a glimpse of life in the 1950s.
The Old Bailey trial of Regina v. Penguin Books Ltd. found that the book was not obscene, thus marking the end of the conservative 1950s. Scholars suggest this outcome led to a new liberal and permissive society and the modernisation of legalisation for homosexuality, abortion, the death penalty and divorce in the 1960s and beyond.