Antique Lady Chatterley’s Lover to Be Auctioned

An antique copy of the infamous DH Lawrence novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, is set to be auctioned off at Sotheby’s soon. It is the copy which was used by the judge who presided over the obscenity trial that took place in 1960. Lady Dorothy Byrne, wife to Judge Sir Lawrence Byrne, annotated this copy of the book, and additionally made some notes on notepaper bearing the Central Criminal Court letterhead on her opinion of the language that Lawrence had used in the book. 

A Defining Moment In Social History

The trial has often been described as a defining moment in Britain’s social history, and is thought to mark the end of a restrictive era and the point where the move towards a more permissive, liberal society began. Judge Byrne carried the book to the trail in a damask bag that his wife had stitched, in order to hide it from view, something that seems ridiculous now, but was taken with utmost seriousness back then.

Lady Byrne also read and commented on his copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover ahead of the trial, which took place at the Old Bailey. It was during this trial that the prosecution asked the now famous question of whether this was the kind of book someone would choose to have lying around their house, and whether it was one that a person’s wife or servants should be allowed to read.

Penguin Gets Acquitted

Penguin, the publisher for the book, who was tried under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act, managed to gain a huge amount of public attention thanks to this, and 2 million copies of the book moved in just 2 years.

The copy going up for sale now was purchased over 25 years ago at an auction by Christopher Cone as a gift for his partner, the late Stanley Seeger, establishing, at the time the highest price ever paid for a paperback sold at an auction. It is now being offered with an estimate of between £10 000 and £15 000. Suffice to say that the rest of us would need to win a pretty penny from our Bingo for money entertainment before we could even conceive of spending this much on a book!

The Stanley J Seeger Collection

The Stanley J. Seeger collection has been sold off in a series of auctions over the last 25 years, starting things off with a public sale of 88 works by Pablo Picasso, which took place in 1993, in New York. Other lots included Contemporary Art, which was offered in Milan, and 18th to 20th century British Pictures, which took place in London. After Seeger passed away in 2001, Sotheby’s made more than 900 lots of collectables and books available in 2 installments in 2014. The items included in these lots consisted of wonders like a cocktail shaker belonging to Al Capone, and a working manuscript of an early abandoned novel by Joseph Conrad called The Sisters, which dates back to the years 1895 and 1896.

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