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


James Joyce’s works had a chequered career in Australia, repeatedly being accused of blasphemy and obscenity. Ulysses was banned in Britain in 1923 and six years later it was declared a prohibited import in Australia, along with Joyce’s Dubliners.

The bans in both countries were lifted in 1937, but Catholic organisations in Australia soon began pressing for Ulysses to be banned again. In 1941, the book was again restricted against the recommendation of the Censorship Board. The Customs Minister, E. J. Harrison, said, ‘This book holds up to ridicule the Creator and the Church … Such books might vitally affect the standard of Australian home life. It cannot be tolerated in Australia any longer.’ The restriction, ineffectual now that so many copies were in circulation, was eventually lifted in 1953.

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