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Timeline shows the where and why of history's most contentious reads, from Lolita to Charlotte's Web

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A new infographic sheds light on the murky and often ridiculous world of book censorship.

Throughout history, great and classic works of literature have been subject to suppression.

Vladimir Nabokov's provocative tale of a middle-aged scholar's obsession with a 12-year-old "nymphet" in Lolita created a firestorm of controversy and was banned in Britain from 1955-1959.

But the author fared better than poor old D.H. Lawrence, whose erotic masterpiece Lady Chatterley's Lover was banned in the UK on the grounds of obscenity for over thirty years; although it immediately sold out after Penguin won a landmark court case for publication in 1968. 

Charlotte's Web; "blasphemous and unnatural"?

Charlotte's Web; "blasphemous and unnatural"?

Other books have faced blackouts on religious or political grounds. George Orwell's Animal Farm is still banned in various countries, including Cuba and North Korea, for its allegorical critique of communism. 

And the graphic violence of American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis means it cannot be sold in the Australian state of Queensland, although of course, it's widely available via public libraries and the internet. 

Even children's books have come under fire, often on the most tenuous pretexts. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White may seem like a moving story of a talking pig and spider but a school district in Kansas once believed it to be "blasphemous and unnatural". While L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz apparently "brings children's minds to a cowardly level". And Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss was banned for 26 years for its portrayal of Marxism.  

The infographic casts light on these and other banned books, with a timeline that shows exactly where and why they were restricted. Come see the fascinating history behind history's most contended reads with this design from printerinks.com below:

Banned books

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