An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding

Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. London: Printed by Eliz. Holt for Thomas Bassett at the George in Fleetstreet, near Dunstan’s Church, 1690.

Most Controversial

John Locke

Locke’s influential theory concerning civil, religious, and philosophical liberty was considered too radical for the time, and Locke fled to Holland where he lived under the pseudonym Dr. Van der Linden. His studentship at Oxford was then revoked by King Charles II.


The Historical Register for the Year 1736

Fielding, Henry. The Historical Register for the Year 1736. As it is Acted at the New Theatre in Hay Market. To Which is Added a Very Merry Tragedy Called Eurydice Hiss’d, or A Word to the Wise. Both Written by the Author of Pasquin. To These are Prefixed a Long Dedication to the Publick, and a Preface to that Dedication. London: J. Roberts, 1737.

Henry Fielding

As a result of political controversy engendered by this play, the British government concocted the Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737, limiting theatrical production to three theatres with Royal patents, thus effectively ending Fielding’s career as a dramatist. Fielding then pursued a study of law, and eventually turned his attention to the writing of novels.


Summary View of the Rights of British America

Jefferson, Thomas. Summary View of the Rights of British America Set Forth in Some Resolutions Intended for the Inspection of the Present Delegates of the people of Virginia, now in Convention. By a Native, and Member of the House of Burgesses, 1774. Williamsburg: Printed by Clementina Rind, 1774.

Thomas Jefferson

A Summary View, a precursor to the Declaration of Independence, was also printed in England by friends of Jefferson without his knowledge. A great furor ensued, and Jefferson’s name was subsequently proscribed by the British House of Parliament.



Joyce, James. Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Co., 1922.

James Joyce

As with his previous works, Joyce faced great difficulties in finding a publisher for Ulysses. Sylvia Beach, proprietor of the Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Co., agreed to publish Ulysses under her own imprint, and the first copies appeared on February 2, 1922. Ulysses was immediately banned in Great Britain and the United States.


Tropic of Cancer

Miller, Henry. Tropic of Cancer. Paris: Obelisk Press, 1934.

Henry Miller

Written in 1932, Tropic of Cancer was published in 1934 by Jack Kahane’s Obelisk Press. The book was immediately banned in Great Britain and the United States, a ban that was not lifted until the culmination of a protracted legal battle initiated by the decision of Barney Rosset and his Grove Press to publish Tropic of Cancer in 1962.


Naked Lunch

Burroughs, William. Naked Lunch. Paris: Olympia Press, 1959.

William Burroughs

Published by Olympia Press in 1959, Burrough’s controversial "Beat Manifesto" was banned in Great Britain and the United States. Along with Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch endured a protracted censorship trial in 1962, when it was published by Barney Rossett’s Grove Press.