November 10 in Literary History: Lady Chatterley Becomes a Bestseller

The most significant events in the history of books on the 10th of November

1619: René Descartes has the dreams that inspire his Meditations on First Philosophy.

1624: Henry Wriothesley (believed to have been pronounced ‘rizzly’), 3rd Earl of Southampton, dies. He is the dedicatee of Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece and probable ‘Fair Youth’ of the Bard’s Sonnets.

1728: Oliver Goldsmith is born. This Irish writer is probably best known for his novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, and his play, She Stoops to Conquer. He once remarked: ‘The first time I read an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had Gaiman1gained a new friend.’

1759: Friedrich von Schiller is born. The German writer had an unusual method of stimulating himself at the writing desk: he kept rotten apples within the desk, remarking that the smell of their decay would often help him write.

1871: Winston Churchill is born. No, not that one – the famous Prime Minister was born three years later. This Winston Churchill was an American novelist; the two men corresponded over the confusion.

1891: Arthur Rimbaud dies. Most of his poetry was written while he was still in his teens – virtually all of it, in fact. He more or less gave up creative writing altogether before he reached the age of twenty.

1960: Following its acquittal at the high profile trial, D. H. Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover sells 200,000 copies on this day in 1960, the first day it is legally allowed to be published, and some thirty years since its author had died.

1960: Neil Gaiman is born. The author has a huge following – including on Twitter where he once retweeted us (hooray!) – and, among many others, has written NeverwhereGood Omens (a novel he co-authored with Terry Pratchett), Coraline, Stardust, and the Sandman comic-book series. His first published book, though, was a biography of the pop group Duran Duran. Gaiman has since called it ‘the book I wish I’d never written’.

Image: Neil Gaiman, signing books after a reading from ‘Anansi Boys’ in Berkeley, 2005 © 2005 Jutta, share-alike licence.


  1. So many great literary anniversaries!

  2. Thank you for posting this!