A report on Penguin Books and Obscenity

Cover of an undated American edition of Fanny Hill, c. 1910
Plaque marking the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Penguin Books by Allen Lane at 8 Vigo Street.
The 18th century book Fanny Hill has been subject to obscenity trials at various times (image: plate XI: The bathing party; La baignade)
Penguin Crime editions.
Penguin's English edition of Yuri Krimov’s novel The Tanker “Derbent"
Penguin Classics editions
The 80 Little Black Classics published in 2015 marking the 80th anniversary Penguin Books
Four Pelican book covers, showing the gradual shift in the design. From left – 1937 (three bands), 1955 (grid), 1969 (illustrated), and 2007 (a "Penguin Celebrations" throwback edition)
Covers of two Penguin Education titles

The novel was at the time unpublished in the United Kingdom and the predicted obscenity trial, R v Penguin Books Ltd, not only marked Penguin as a fearless publisher, it also helped drive the sale of at least 3.5 million copies.

- Penguin Books

The trial of Penguin Books over their publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1960 failed to secure a conviction and the conviction in the 1971 trial of Oz magazine was overturned on appeal.

- Obscenity

2 related topics with Alpha


1932 UK authorised edition

Lady Chatterley's Lover

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Last novel by English author D. H. Lawrence, which was first published privately in 1928, in Italy, and in 1929, in France.

Last novel by English author D. H. Lawrence, which was first published privately in 1928, in Italy, and in 1929, in France.

1932 UK authorised edition
Translator Sei Itō (left) and his publisher Hisajirō Oyama (right) at the first Chatterley trial in Japan.

An unexpurgated edition was not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960, when it was the subject of a watershed obscenity trial against the publisher Penguin Books, which won the case and quickly sold three million copies.

The book was also banned for obscenity in the United States, Canada, Australia, India and Japan.

D. H. Lawrence, 1929

D. H. Lawrence

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English writer, novelist, poet and essayist.

English writer, novelist, poet and essayist.

D. H. Lawrence, 1929
Lawrence at age 21 in 1906
Photograph of Lawrence by Lady Ottoline Morrell, 29 November 1915
D. H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire

Both novels were highly controversial and were banned on publication in the UK for obscenity, although Women in Love was banned only temporarily.

This edition was posthumously re-issued in paperback there both by Signet Books and by Penguin Books in 1946.