English PEN has set up a crowdfunding campaign to keep an historic copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover in the UK.
In a rare move, the Government is appealing for a buyer to pay £56,250 for the obscenity trial judge Sir Laurence Byrne’s copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover to stop it leaving the country. Arts minister Michael Ellis has ruled the hand-annotated copy should not be sold overseas.
The 1960 edition of D H Lawrence’s novel was sold at auction for £56,250 to an anonymous online bidder in October, well above the £15,000 asking price and a record for a Penguin paperback.
The new owner planned to take the copy abroad but under the temporary export ban, potential purchasers have until 9th August to declare their intentions to buy the book and up to three months to find the funds.
Launching the GoFundMe campaign, the free speech charity said the book "belongs" in the UK and said it aims to work with relevant organisations including the British Library and Arts Council England to identify an organisation who can house the artefact and guarantee its preservation.
Philippe Sands QC, president of English PEN, said: “D H Lawrence was an active member of English PEN and unique in the annals of English literary history. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was at the heart of the struggle for freedom of expression, in the courts and beyond. This rare copy of the book, used and marked up by the judge, must remain in the UK, accessible to the British public to help understand what is lost without freedom of expression. This unique text belongs here, a symbol of the continuing struggle to protect the rights of writers and readers at home and abroad.”
The landmark trial in 1960 saw the jury take just three hours to decide the novel was not obscene in a case highlighting the difference between the establishment and modern society.
Sir Laurence's copy of the book contains his wife Dorothy’s annotations and two pages of notes with a list of page numbers and content summaries. She also sewed a blue-grey fabric bag for her husband to carry the book back and forth from court.