An unexpurgated edition was not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960, when it was the subject of a watershed obscenity trial against the publisher Penguin Books.
Penguin won the case, and quickly sold 3 million copies.
The book was also banned for obscenity in the United States, Canada, Australia, India and Japan.
The book soon became notorious for its story of the physical (and emotional) relationship between a working class man and an upper class woman, its explicit descriptions of sex, and its use of then-unprintable words.
The story is said to have originated from events in Lawrence's own unhappy domestic life, and he took inspiration for the settings of the book from Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, where he grew up.
According to some critics, the fling of Lady Ottoline Morrell with "Tiger", a young stonemason who came to carve plinths for her garden statues, also influenced the story.
The story concerns a young married woman, the former Constance Reid (Lady Chatterley), whose upper class husband, Sir Clifford Chatterley, described as a handsome, well-built man, has been paralysed from the waist down due to a Great War injury.
In addition to Clifford's physical limitations, his emotional neglect of Constance forces distance between the couple.
The class difference between the couple highlights a major motif of the novel which is the unfair dominance of intellectuals over the working class.The novel is about Constance's realization that she cannot live with the mind alone; she must also be alive physically.This realization stems from a heightened sexual experience Constance has only felt with Mellors, suggesting that love can only happen with the element of the body, not the mind.In Lady Chatterley's Lover, Lawrence comes full circle to argue once again for individual regeneration, which can be found only through the relationship between man and woman (and, he asserts sometimes, man and man).Love and personal relationships are the threads that bind this novel together.Lawrence explores a wide range of different types of relationships.The reader sees the brutal, bullying relationship between Mellors and his wife Bertha, who punishes him by preventing his pleasure.There is Tommy Dukes, who has no relationship because he cannot find a woman whom he respects intellectually and, at the same time, finds desirable.There is also the perverse, maternal relationship that ultimately develops between Clifford and Mrs. Richard Hoggart argues that the main subject of Lady Chatterley's Lover is not the sexual passages that were the subject of such debate but the search for integrity and wholeness.Lady Chatterley's Lover focuses on the incoherence of living a life that is "all mind", which Lawrence saw as particularly true among the young members of the aristocratic classes, as in his description of Constance's and her sister Hilda's "tentative love-affairs" in their youth: So they had given the gift of themselves, each to the youth with whom she had the most subtle and intimate arguments.The arguments, the discussions were the great thing: the love-making and connection were only sort of primitive reversion and a bit of an anti-climax.