Free Libraries and Objectionable Books


  • Andrew Enstice
  • Janeen Webb


On Saturday May 15th, 1869, under the headline "The Bishop of Saluzzo on Bad Books", Australian readers of the Catholic periodical The Advocate were urged to: Avoid ... as much as possible, books, journals, and every kind of publication, in which things appear opposed to faith and Christian morals ... The reprinting in Australian periodicals of such articles from overseas sources is indicative of the range of international material offered to the Australian reading public as a matter of course in the second half of the nineteenth century. While the tone of the Bishop of Saluzzo's address is perhaps more energetically censorious than many, the religious and ethical bias of the periodicals of the time is emphasised by the sheer volume of such reprints from all manner of sources, and nowhere is it more evident than in the debates surrounding the nature of 'suitable' literature for the general reading public.