So Penguin printed off 200,000 copies and challenged the Director of Public Prosecutions to take the company to court.After a much-publicised trial in 1960 the jury decided in favour of Penguin and within a year it had sold two million copies.
In her introduction Doris Lessing discusses the influence of Lawrence's sexual politics, his relationship with his wife Frieda and his attitude towards the First World War. Lawrence (1885-1930), novelist, storywriter, critic, poet and painter, was one of the greatest figures in 20th-century English literature.Lady Constance Chatterley feels trapped in her sexless marriage to the Sir Clifford.Paralysed in the First World War, Sir Clifford is unable to fulfil his wife emotionally or physically, and encourages her instead to have a liaison with a man of their own class.The now super-posh Connie Chatterley (in the book, she marries up) had become an unlikely proto-feminist who always took the lead, in the boudoir and everywhere else.(Was it, I wonder, thanks to this new-found confidence, or in spite of it, that she consistently managed to reach orgasm in five seconds flat?Change it too much and you’re left with something so crude – yes, even cruder than Lawrence! In particular, you lose its underlying preoccupation with social class, a system that its author sensed was in flux, the trenches having thrown up all sorts of in-betweeners (the novel was published in 1928).