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

Lawson Glassop, We Were the Rats (banned 1946)

Lawson Glassop’s war novel We Were the Rats was published by Angus & Robertson in September 1944 and sold 10,000 copies in its first year. Then, late in 1945, a reader took exception to its language and referred it to the Tasmanian Women’s Non-Party League. In turn, the League approached the local Minister for Customs, who contacted the Chief Secretary of New South Wales, who took action against the book.

In April 1946 the publisher was taken to court and fined ten pounds for breaching the State’s Obscene Publications Act. The decision rested on only five pages of the novel; the police took particular exception to Chapter 31, in which Australian soldiers talk over a copy of an American girlie magazine.

Angus & Robertson withdrew We Were the Rats and it remained out of print for 15 years. It was finally republished in 1961 by another firm, which cut out most of the passages that had caused offence, including Chapter 31.


Lawson Glassop, Chapter XXXI in We Were The Rats, Angus & Robertson, 1944, pp, 177-79, © HarperCollins Pubilshers Australia

We Were the Rats


We Were the Rats


We Were the Rats

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