This week our lovely shop team leader Emma has been working on a fabulous display for Banned Books Week 2017. Banned Books week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read without censorship.
We often imagine the banning of books to be something of the past and which no longer happens. But the chief executive of Index on Censorship has recently suggested that modern forms of censorship, owing to 'online mobs' on social media, has actually caused a surge of censorship complaints to publishers and authors put under a huge amount of pressure to succumb to their demands.
Banned Books week first started in the US in 1982 after the American Library Association had reported a sudden surge in attempts to have books taken out of libraries, bookshops and schools. Since that time, more than 11,300 books have been 'challenged' - and the number per year is said to be rising all the time.
Here is just a small selection of previously banned books we were able to find after a quick sweep of our shop.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' was banned in 1955 during South African Apartheid for being 'objectionable and obscene'. The book also roused controversy in the US upon publication for its depiction of the God-like creation of life.
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)
L. Frank Baum's classic story about a girl and her friends travelling through the land of Oz came under fire in Detroit, USA, where it was banned from libraries for having 'no value' to children and 'supporting negativism'.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1884, and by 1885 it was banned by Concord Public Library, due to claims that it was "absolutely immoral in its tones" and that "all through its pages there is a systematic use of bad grammar and an employment of inelegant expressions".
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most controversial novels in the world. It has been banned in multiple countries, being challenged mostly due to its discussion of rape and the use of racist language. Even as recently as December last year, it was being removed from school classrooms and libraries in Virginia due to parental complaints that continuing to allow children to read the novel "validates racial slurs and offensive wording".
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
A Clockwork Orange, the story of Alex, a sociopath, was banned during the seventies in Colorado and Alabama due to its "objectionable language". A Bookseller was even arrested in 1973 for selling the novel!
We have been pleased to draw attention to Banned Books Week in our shop, reminding all of our customers (and booksellers!) to exercise their freedom to read.