Lady Chatterley takes centre stage at summer sale

Posted on 11th May 2018

A signed first edition of one of the most controversial books of the 20th century is to go under the hammer at our Fine Art Sale on Tuesday 15 May

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by the English novelist DH Lawrence was first printed privately as a limited edition in Florence in 1928 but it was not until 1960 that it was published in its entirety in Britain. Even then it was the subject of a watershed obscenity trial against the publisher Penguin Books and many were shocked by its explicit descriptions of sex and its use of then-unprintable words. Penguin won the case and quickly sold 3 million copies and the work is now regarded as a literary classic. 

With a price estimate of £5,000 to £7,000, it is one of these very first Italian editions that is included in our sale. The book is number 324 of 1,000 copies and is signed on original board with a paper label to the spine and a printed black phoenix on the front cover. 

Not only did the book become a household name due to its controversial content but the court case that it sparked marked a significant historical turning point. The verdict was seen by many – including the book’s great defender Gerald Gardener QC – as a crucial step towards the freedom of the written word and as such opened debate into other areas of human rights such as the legalization of homosexuality and abortion in the decade that followed. 

The book is one of many eye-catching lots in the Fine Art Sale, which starts at 10.00am on Tuesday 15 May.  The contents of the sale can be viewed on Saturday 12 May and Sunday 13 May between 10.00am and 1.00pm and on Monday 14 May from 9.00am and 4.00pm.

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