Autograph letter signed relating to the clandestine publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Kesselmatte, Gsteig b. Gstaad (Bern): 28 July 1928 Stock Code: 137216
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Controversy hits Lady Chatterley

Autograph letter signed from Lawrence to Allen W. Steele of the book wholesalers William Jackson Ltd, requesting that they return to the bearer of the letter, Enid Hilton, over 70 copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover which they had ordered and subsequently rejected. Privately printed in Florence in 1928 with the help of the Florentine bookseller Pino Orioli, Lady Chatterley's Lover proved deeply controversial due to its frank eroticism. It was this controversy which led to William Jackson cancelling their order, fearing the rumours of a potential raid by the police, and forcing Lawrence to recover the copies. The incident is related in the Cambridge Biography of D. H. Lawrence: "The difficulties began in July when a London firm with a bulk order (William Jackson Ltd) looked at one of the more than seventy copies they had received and decided, on both legal and moral grounds, that on no account did they want to be involved. Because they had asked Lawrence where they should now send the books, he needed someone in London who could collect and store them for him (to tell the firm to send them back to Florence risked attracting more attention than he thought wise). The person he turned to was Enid Hilton... Lawrence was nervous about involving an essentially non-literary person in his literary affairs, someone from the more 'ordinary' world of his early friends and family, particularly as there was some risk of her being compromised if the authorities did decide to act against his novel. But the enthusiastic efficiency with which Enid collected the books, and then distributed them to individual subscribers as further orders came in, fully justified his choice" (David Ellis, D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, 1922-1930, p. 426). That Enid Hilton - who hid the books in her guest room - was able to distribute the copies to other customers shows the demand for the book, which proved very lucrative for Lawrence, even though censorship meant that the unexpurgated text was not published in the UK until 1960.

The letter reads in full: "Dear Sir, Will you please deliver to the bearer of this note Enid Hilton all the copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover that were sent to you from Florence before you cancelled your order. There should be either seventy-two or seventy-four copies in all - Mr. Orioli says sixty-six copies by registered book mail, and one parcel-post package of eight copies - making seventy-four. But elsewhere he said seventy-two. With thanks for your courtesy, yours faithfully D. H. Lawrence".

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1 page, quarto.


A few tiny holes and very light creasing, overall in excellent condition.


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