Whether you’ve written a book that has been challenged, or have simply been looking for the best examples of banned books from UK authors, it’s often a long and arduous (sometimes even seemingly futile) process to uncover the real reasons behind why a certain books gets banned.

For the purpose of answering the question, let’s get the short answer out of the way first. The most common reason that books get banned is because of censorship from authority.

Now, whilst that is a short answer it’s a sweeping statement, so let’s also look at some common examples of how books can get banned in the UK, and also some of the more notable examples of UK authors finding their selves in literary hot water.

Common reasons books get banned in the UK

1. Offensive Material

Some books cause offence for somewhat subjective reasons, whereas others are simply challenged, then banned, never to see the light of day. Governing bodies have to see all sides when choosing whether to deem a big worthy of a ban, and the following factors are just some of the reasons that they will take into account:

  • Racism
  • Violence
  • Provocative or Insulting Prose e.g. via sexual or religious references

2. Sign of the times

When we look at books that have been banned at the turn in the past such as Lady Chatterly’s Lover or Lolita, it’s can often seem a bit odd compared to the types of books that are being published these days!

However, put yourself in the shoes of commissioning bodies or governments when a book like Lolita was published. You can imagine it’d cause quite the stir!

3. Daring to be Provocative

Any books that challenge societal norms are instantly bound to be challenged, or possibly even banned.

This isn’t so much an issue these days, but earlier in the 20th century when books were regularly getting challenged (particularly in countries or localities with already rigid societal norms), anything that challenged government conventions or what was considered to make one a ‘good’ citizen was instantly on the list to be challenged at the very least.

Popular banned or challenged books by the government in the UK

  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover
  • Lolita
  • Rights of Man
  • Spycatcher
  • Ulysses
  • The Well of Loneliness

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