The obscenity trial of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1960 remains a symbol of freedom of expression. It is also a seminal case in British literary and social history. It has been credited with being the catalyst which encouraged frank discussion of sexual behaviour so that it was no longer seen as a 'taboo' subject. This trial highlighted the gap between modern society and an out-of -touch establishment. When Penguin Books released a new unexpurgated edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1960, they were charged with publishing obscene material contrary to the Obscene Publications Act of 1959. The trial of R v Penguin Books Limited, which ended in an aquittal for the publishers, was an important victory for freedom of expression, and saw publishing in Britain become considerably more liberal. This work introduces readers to the trial itself, describing the prosecution and defence opening and closing speeches to the jury, the examination of witnesses, before culminating in the judge's summing-up of the case and the final verdict. The witness statements, together with counsel's questioning are based on the trial transcripts as they were reported at the time without any omissions. In this way, the reader is provided with all the evidence that was available to the jury, and invited to reach a considered assessment of the case.
The work concludes by posing a question for the reader to consider; 'Can certain literature 'actually' corrupt, or does it simply encourage expensive court trials and boost sales?'