Banned Books in Australia A Special Collections-Art in the Library Exhibition

Honore de Balzac, Droll Stories (banned 1901–1923)

Balzac’s Droll Stories has the dubious honour of being one of the first books banned by the Commonwealth of Australia. In 1901, Customs seized the book as part of a consignment bound for George Robertson’s Melbourne bookshop. In Robertson’s ensuing trial for importing obscene books, Professor E. E. Morris of the University of Melbourne described the book as ‘filthy’; after reading it, he said ‘I felt I needed a bath.’ The judge found the charge proved but imposed a minimal penalty and Customs was pilloried in the press for taking action against a book that had already been in circulation for 40 years.

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