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When Field & Stream Magazine Reviewed Lady Chatterley’s Lover


Lady Chatterley's Love by DH Lawrence

This week a 1928 privately printed first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover sold for $3,500 on AbeBooks. No big deal but though slightly ironic as it is Banned Books Week.  This book’s past is well-documented in the long history of censorship – printed in Florence by Tipografia Giuntina at DH Lawrence’s expense. This particular copy had been rebound in black morocco.

However, the history of Lady Chatterley’s Lover isn’t all suppression and controversy. There’s also humor.

An issue of Field & Stream from January 1947

In November 1959, Field & Stream (a US magazine, founded in 1896, and dedicated to hunting, fishing and outdoor life) ran a review of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Written by Ed Zern, the review is short but memorable.

In 1959, Lawrence’s novel was back in the news. Grove Press had published an edition on May 4, 1959. It was the first complete, unedited, and legal American edition to be printed. It was an important moment for sex and publishing in the States. The book was not published in full in the UK until 1960 after Penguin won a famous obscenity trial.

Here’s Zern’s review from the November 1959 issue of Field & Stream:

Although written many years ago, Lady Chatterley’s Lover has just been reissued by the Grove Press, and this fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of considerable interest to outdoor minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the professional gamekeeper. Unfortunately one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savor these sidelights on the management of a Midland shooting estate, and in this reviewer’s opinion this book cannot take the place of J.R. Miller’s Practical Gamekeeping.

Practical Gamekeeeping did not exist. Mr Zern was pulling our leg. If we are referencing Zern’s review, then we should also mention  Philip Larkin’s poem Annus Mirabilis, which begins:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.
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