After a few reluctant rejections from Paris publishers, Histoire d'O was published in June 1954 by Jean-Jacques Pauvert who had previously published the entire works of the Marquis de Sade, sparking off a series of court cases that lasted eight years.
Histoire d'O was published, at the same time, in English by Maurice Girodias, a colleague of Pauvert's and the founder of The Olympia Press. Olympia was known for publishing risqué books in English in Paris for the consumption of foreign tourists, who because of censorship could not obtain such materials at home. French censorship laws had a loophole allowing English works to be published without domestic confiscation. Despite this Girodias consistently ran into difficulties with the authorities throughout his career. The Paris police, often pressured by British customs, seized and destroyed many copies of his books. Story of O was rushed through as a poor translation in less than three weeks as the publishers wanted to release both books together.



In February 1955, Histoire d'O won the literary prize Prix des Deux Magots, and the novel's standing was assured. The book quickly gained notoriety and public outrage led to a police investigation as the book became more well known.

Although Girodias had never had a contract for printing rights, it was understood that he would only print 2000 copies on one print-run. He changed the title of his version to The Wisdom of the Lash and had it retranslated before he printed it again. He also left out the preface by Paulhan. He put that down to a mistake by the printer, but never explained why he changed the title, or why he had run the book again.

Although The Story of O was never officially banned in Britain, censorship laws forbade publication here of the two English versions.

In 1963, Pauvert sold the American rights to Grove Press. Copies of the book were sent to the American publisher, but they were seized by Customs. On appeal they were released by the same official who had allowed Lolita five years previously.

Grove Press insisted on a new translation, by Sabine D'Estree, and it was published in 1965 in America, and five years later in Britain. Sabine was another pseudonym; one that was also kept secret for a long time. 'She' was Richard Seaver, a translator who had lived in France for many years.


Note: 1954 saw;