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Writers, Readers, and ReputationsLiterary Life in Britain 1870-1918$
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Philip Waller

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.001.0001

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Pricking Censorship

Pricking Censorship

Chapter:
(p.975) 27 Pricking Censorship
Source:
Writers, Readers, and Reputations
Author(s):

Philip Waller (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.003.0027

This chapter examines writers' attitudes to censorship, particularly in regard to their treatment of sexual relations. It begins by outlining reactions to D. H. Lawrence's difficulties in publishing Sons and Lovers (1913) and The Rainbow (1915). An assumption that all agreed on the desirability of complete freedom of expression is wrong: both friends and admirers of Lawrence were disturbed and offended by his apparent obsession with sex. The chapter goes on to consider previous publications which excited outrage and, in certain instances, led to their being banned by public libraries or by the leading subscription libraries — Mudie's, W. H. Smith's, and Boot's — whose policy is discussed. Writers who encountered censure include Hall Caine, Thomas Hardy, Compton Mackenzie, W.B. Maxwell, George Moore, and H. G.Wells. The question arises why their work should have been deemed improper when others such as Elinor Glyn's passionate romances apparently did not. The particular problems confronting writers for the stage, because of the censorship of plays by the Lord Chamberlain's office, is illuminated through Hall Caine's evidence before the parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Censorship in 1909. Finally, changing attitudes over the period are considered, and how writers and publishers mostly policed themselves through self-censorship and self-restraint.

Keywords:   censorship, libraries, censorship of plays, attitudes

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