Krogman’s Law of the Month
By Zackary Krogman, Krogman’s Family Law
For November, the Law of the Month is the Obscene Publications Act of 1959.
Although this act was passed in August of 1959, this was an appropriate Law of the Month for November because it was on November 2, 1960, that Penguin Publishing was found not guilty of obscenity under this act for its publication of D.H. Lawrence’s book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
The case turned on Section 4 of the Act which made an exception for a work “in the interests of science, literature, art or learning, or of other objects of general concern”.
The case, known as “R v. Penguin Books” was the first big test of Section 4 of the Act. Prior to the Obscene Publication Act, there was no exception made for artistic merit. The decision ushered in an era of liberalization of publishing in Britain.
Originally published in 1928, Lady Chatterley’s Lover could not be printed in its original form in Britain. Londoners had to go to Paris to get an unedited version of the book and then make it back through customs with the contraband until this case was decided.
This was due to its explicit description of sexual activity, and a plot that involved an upper class woman carrying on an affair with a working class man. It is said that on November 10, 1960 there were 400 people lined up to buy Lady Chatterley’s Lover at a single London bookseller.
Without this case, British women would need to look for 50 Shades of Grey on the black market.
References for this Article:
Wikipedia – Available online at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Chatterley’s_Lover and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_v_Penguin_Books_Ltd.
Cornell Library, Banned Books – Available online at: http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/Paper-exhibit/banned.html
National Archives – Available online at: http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=The_Chatterley_Trial_1960
The Telegraph, “The tumultuous trial of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ – Available online at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/8096567/The-tumultuous-trial-of-Lady-Chatterleys-Lover.html