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Having journalists gatecrash a quiet Sunday lunch was a complete shock for publicity manager John Curtis.This mood soon changed, however, and Penguin’s lawyer, Michael Rubinstein, accomplished a phenomenal amount in the eight weeks they had to prepare the case.The Act was designed to make it easier for the police to root out exploitative pornography, while protecting works of literary merit.However, by August 1960, prosecution of Penguin had become inevitable.Penguin had always boasted (though not entirely accurately) that it published 'complete and unabridged’ texts and the successful passage of the Obscene Publications Act seemed to clear the way for the unabridged Lady Chatterley’s Lover.Indeed, Penguin editors could not have countenanced the various expurgated versions, where 'penis’ was rendered as 'liver’ and 'purple’ passages deleted, to the undoubted confusion and disappointment of readers.Is it a book that you would have lying around in your own house?Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?
Rubinstein prepared responses to such putative attacks.'I don’t think this novel is one of Lawrence’s best, or a great work of art,’ wrote Doris Lessing when approached by the defence as a possible witness.'I’m sorry, if there is to be a test case, that it will be fought over this particular book.’ What becomes clear from the comprehensive archive of letters, notes and documents now held at Bristol University Library, is an initial sense of near panic at Penguin; the publishers simply had no experience of media frenzy.Don’t you think there’s something slightly comic about E B solemnly declaring that L C Lover is a fit and proper book for everyone’s reading?’ Rubinstein presumably agreed; she was not troubled further.