Title: The Trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover Author: Sybille Bedford
Publisher: Daunt Books
I was fifteen or sixteen I think when I first heard of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” from my mother. I think she read it and enjoyed it a lot. She even told me what it was about. It was her way of educating me about sex, I suppose. I went on to read it at the age of eighteen and while it didn’t change my life, it certainly had some impact.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover isn’t a book about sex, as much as it is about relationships and what binds people together or makes them search for love from other people. It is full of sex and words that we now so casually use like “fuck”. It was for this reason it was banned in the country to which the writer belonged. There was then the famous trial that took place in 1960, the trial of Penguin under the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which was a major event of its times.
This book is about that trial. Bedford was a first-hand witness to the trial. She saw it unravel and documented it. She speaks of the claustrophobia of Courtroom 1 at the Old Bailey. She presents everything that took place – word for word, play by play – from the prosecution’s objections of 13 sexual scenes to the listing of 66 instances of swear words to the testimony of dozens of witnesses including E.M. Forster.
The essay is honest and transparent. It doesn’t judge but just presents what happened and the outcome of it – of course the book won, and all those readers who were given the chance to read it.
The Trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover should be read by all, to understand why books are banned, and shouldn’t be. It should be read to make sense of what is moral and immoral, and how fact and fiction merge together to create a space which should be devoid of judgement.