LONDON (AP) — A paperback copy of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” used by the judge in the landmark U.K. obscenity trial of the novel’s publisher has sold at auction for 56,250 pounds ($72,000), more than three times its pre-sale estimate.
The tattered Penguin paperback — along with a damask bag designed to stop photographers snapping the judge carrying the scandalous tome — sold to an anonymous bidder at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday.
Penguin Books was prosecuted in 1960 for publishing D.H. Lawrence’s novel about an affair between a wealthy woman and her husband’s gamekeeper, a landmark in the frank literary depiction of sexuality.
A prosecution lawyer infamously asked in court whether it was “a book that you would … wish your wife or your servants to read?”
It took jurors just three hours of deliberation to find Penguin not guilty, and the case is regarded as a landmark victory for freedom of speech and a sign of changing social mores.
Dorothy Byrne, the wife of judge Lawrence Byrne, stitched the bag that held the book. She also made notes for her husband detailing the explicit passages, with descriptions — “love making,” ”coarse” — and page numbers.