by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Memento : Issue 30
Another famous case was the banning of novelist Robert Close’s Love Me Sailor in 1946. The Victorian Courts tried to prosecute Close and his publisher Georgian House under the antiquated criminal charge of obscene libel. After an aborted trial and an appeals trial the prosecution was eventually successful, and in 1948 Close was sent to prison for 10 days. On his release he left Australia immediately, declaring he’d never return. His offending novel, Love Me Sailor, was published in France by Maurice Girondias’ Olympia Press, the provocative publisher of ‘erotic classics’, and became an international bestseller. In 1951, the attempted importation of the English edition of Love Me Sailor into Australia failed. Customs referred the novel to the Literature Censorship Board, in its capacity as expert advisory board on literary titles, and although they unanimously recommended releasing the novel, their decision was overruled by the Minister. Customs was able to act broadly under its own legislation to remove and confiscate material, and the Archives holds hundreds of individual case files on less famous instances in which material deemed to be obscene or over-emphasising sex or crime was discovered. Some interesting examples include titles from the late 1930s such as The Why and How of Birth Control, Modern Marriage and Birth Control, and New Birth Control Facts – all books banned or examined because they discussed birth control and sex. There are also individual files on books like Campus Sex Pot, Love Town, The Sex Behaviour of the American Housewife, detailing their progress through the Customs offices. These slim, paperback, pulp ‘sex thrillers’ of the 1950s and 1960s were considered by successive Customs ministers to be a threat not only to national morals but also to national literary standards. They were further considered part of a new threat to Australian cultural values from the surging wave of American popular culture imports. This same threat was at issue in banning the importation of American comics, few titles of which were handled individually. Evidence of the mass of imports handled and confiscated by Customs, particularly from the early 1950s, can be found in card indexes held by the Archives. These list the titles of adult comic series in all genres, including detective stories, true crime, horror, fantasy, sci-fi and some hybrid genres. We can see from the mass of files held by the Archives that banned material comprised a wide range of genres and forms, from postcards and photographs, to colourful comics and nudist magazines, to hardback novels by famous writers. The definition of offensive content in such material varied widely and changed significantly over the decades. The legacy of evidence about Australia’s censorship regimes that we have inherited via the collecting policies of these government agencies is fascinating. These files are a wonderful reminder of the Archives’ function as a storehouse for the nation’s memory. They allow us to go back and reconsider the sexual and social morals underpinning the censors’ decisions, and discover something of what was not allowed to be seen. Perhaps these files on censorship can also be said to reveal something of Australia’s repressed unconscious, as we find box after box of banned material and censors’ decisions, and the reach of both censorship and its rude object is gradually uncovered. Dr moore is writing a book about literary censorship in australia; preparing a research guide to censorship records in the archives’ collection; and assisting the archives with material for a future exhibition on censorship. Spring–Summer 2005 memeNto 15