Labour History

The Right to Read: The Book Censorship Abolition League, 1934–37

Labour History (2014), 107, (1), 75–93.


The Book Censorship Abolition League, a group made up of academics and other public intellectuals that was active between 1934 and 1937, constituted the first sustained and substantial protest against government censorship in Australia. By the early 1930s, Australia had developed the most interventionist political and moral censorship regime in the English-speaking world, with the exception only of Ireland. From 1933, under the federal Minister for Trade and Customs Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Walter White, the political arm of this system was extended to one of its greatest historical extremes. The League, formed around William Macmahon Ball, then senior lecturer in political philosophy at the University of Melbourne, was initiated in response and was successful in forcing some alleviation of government censorship. While the League has been treated in passing in a number of general histories, this article is the first to examine the group in its own right, and offers new perspectives not found in previous briefer accounts.

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*The author would like to thank Andrew May and Sean Scalmer for their guidance in the research and writing of this article, Stuart Macintyre and the two anonymous referees ofLabour Historyfor their helpful advice and feedback, and Ai Kobayashi and Michael Crozier for assistance with research related to William Macmahon Ball. Google Scholar

1.On Irish censorship, seeAnne Enright, “Diary: Censorship in Ireland,” London Review of Books 35, no. 6(21 March2013):42–43;Julia Carlson, ed., Banned in Ireland: Censorship and the Irish Writer(:Routledge, 1990). Google Scholar

2.The others were the Post Office, the Police (which enforced a multiplicity of state laws that coexisted with the federal censorship regime) and the Attorney-General’s Department.Deana Heath, “Literary Censorship, Imperialism and the White Australia Policy,”inA History of the Book in Australia, 1891–1945: A National Culture in a Colonised Market, ed.Martyn Lyons andJohn Arnold(:University of Queensland Press, 2001), 69, 74–75;Nicole Moore, The Censor’s Library(:University of Queensland Press, 2012), 17–19. Google Scholar

3.The following discussion of the sedition provisions depends onH. K. Bailey, “Australia’s Laws to Censor Books,” Herald(Melbourne), 11 April1935;Council for Civil Liberties (CCL), Six Acts against Civil Liberties(:CCL, 1937), 19–20;Moore, Censor’s Library, 72–80;Roger Douglas, “Saving Australia from Sedition: Customs, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Administration of Peacetime Political Censorship,” Federal Law Review 30, no. 1(2002):135–75. Blasphemy was a marginal category that was rarely invoked.Moore, Censor’s Library, 8–9. Indecency and obscenity were near-synonyms. For definitions seeMoore, Censor’s Library, 9–10, 163–64;Deana Heath, Purifying Empire: Obscenity and the Politics of Moral Regulation in Britain, India and Australia(:Cambridge University Press, 2010), 39–42, 118–20. Google Scholar

4.Stuart Macintyre, The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from Origins to Illegality(:Allen & Unwin, 1998), 12–25. Google Scholar

5.Douglas, “Saving Australia from Sedition,” 148;Peter Coleman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition: Censorship in Australia(:The Jacaranda Press, [1962?]), 113. Google Scholar

6.Coleman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition, 111–12. However, subsequent scholars have found many of Coleman’s figures unreliable.Compare Moore, Censor’s Library, 29–30, 77–78;Stephen Payne, “Aspects of Commonwealth Literary Censorship in Australia, 1929–1941”(MA thesis,Australian National University, 1980), 2–3. Google Scholar

7. Herald, 5 February1935. Google Scholar

8.Payne, “Aspects of Commonwealth Literary Censorship,” 2;Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates(hereafter CPD), House of Representatives (HR) 146(27 March1935):347;T. B. Simonds, “Indecent Publications,”memo, 11 February 1935, in the papers of T. W. White, MS 9148/7/6,National Library of Australia (NLA). Google Scholar

9.The most detailed analysis of how White’s background and personality informed his approach to the administration of censorship is inCelestina Sagazio, “Censorship and the Lyons Government, 1932–39”(BA Hons thesis,University of Melbourne, 1978), 20–33. Google Scholar

10.Thomas Walter White, Guests of the Unspeakable: The Odyssey of an Australian Airman, Being a Record of Captivity and Escape in Turkey(:Hamilton, 1928). White’s story is retold inFred Brenchley andElizabeth Brenchley, White’s Flight: An Australian Pilot’s Epic Escape from Turkish Prison Camp to Russia’s Revolution(:John Wiley & Sons, 2004). Google Scholar

11.As it happened, White retracted his resignation only to resign a week later in a public spat with Lyons over cabinet seniority.Brenchley andBrenchley, White’s Flight, 217–28;A. W. Martin, Robert Menzies: A Life, Volume 1, 1894–1943(:Melbourne University Press, 1993), 123–24, 230–32. Google Scholar

12.White, Guests of the Unspeakable, 297–310;Brenchley andBrenchley, White’s Flight, 177–88. The quoted phrase is fromTo-Day Magazine, September 1933, quoted inBrenchley andBrenchley, White’s Flight, 206. Google Scholar

13.Dunlop quoted inBrenchley andBrenchley, White’s Flight, 238; card file, interview with Ball, 13 November 1985, in the papers of Allan Martin, MS 9802/13/6, interviews section, NLA. Martin interviewed Ball while researching his biography of Menzies. Ball’s observation didn’t make it into the book. Google Scholar

14.Age(Melbourne) andHerald, 13 July 1933;Argus(Melbourne), 13 and 14 July 1933;Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), 14 July 1933; and White, cabinet submission, 3 May 1933; all are in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/7 NLA. The quoted phrase is from White, cabinet submission, 3 May1933, 3. Google Scholar

15.This fact was discovered by Margaret Kemp, secretary of the BCAL, and subsequently confirmed by Board chairman Sir Robert Garran.Star(Melbourne), 5 February 1935.Star, 26 March 1935; andArgus, 27 March 1935; both are in Book Censorship Abolition League, 1934–37, Newspaper Cuttings, vol. 201 (hereafter NC201), 12–13, Mitchell Library (ML). This is the BCAL’s own clippings file, donated by Rawson in 1940. Google Scholar

16.R. R. Garran, “When Books Are Banned,” Herald, 7 June1934, in the papers of L. H. Allen, MS 2113 NLA;Simonds, “Indecent Publications,” memo; list of Customs decisions attached to letter, E. Abbott to Garran, 21 February 1935, in Decisions, with Comments, on Literature Forwarded by the Customs Department to the Commonwealth Book Censorship Board, 1933–1957, A3023, Folder 1935/36, National Archives of Australia (NAA). The quoted phrases are from White, cabinet submission, 3 May1933, 1. Google Scholar

17.Douglas, “Saving Australia from Sedition,” 144. Google Scholar

18.The figures come from a count that Kemp conducted at the Victorian Customs House, seemingly on or about 9 January 1935. SeeHerald, 5 February 1935. OnThe Communist Manifesto, seeW. Macmahon Ball, “The Australian Censorship,” The Australian Quarterly 7, no. 26(1935):13;Douglas, “Saving Australia from Sedition,” 154. Google Scholar

19.If we followColeman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition, 111–12, political censorship was not even, quantitatively, at its greatest historical extent. However, even if so, this was not public knowledge at the time. Google Scholar

20.Joanna Parkinson’s study of the operation of the Customs Department between 1929 and 1937 concluded that while Customs officers had significant influence over the implementation, and thus nature and extent, of moral censorship in this period, political censorship was mainly determined by the minister in charge.Joanna Parkinson, “Australia’s Trustees: The Censors and Literary Censorship, 1929–1937”(BA Hons thesis,Australian National University, 1984), 68–71. This, combined with the particulars of White’s personality, is in keeping with the dramatic increase in political censorship under White’s ministership, as compared with the relatively gradual expansion of moral censorship in the same period. Google Scholar

21.Stephen Alomes, “‘Reasonable Men’: Middle Class Reformism in Australia, 1928–1939”(PhD thesis,Australian National University, 1979), 114;Parkinson, “Australia’s Trustees,” 2;Coleman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition, 112. Google Scholar

22.George Orwell, “The Lion and the Unicorn,”inWhy I Write(:Penguin, 2004), 39. Google Scholar

23.For example,Coleman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition, 116;Jenny Lee, “Anti-Censorship Campaigns,”inBanned Books in Australia, ed.Stephanie Jaehrling, 2nd expanded ed. (:University of Melbourne Custom Book Centre, 2010), 87–88.Compare Heath, “Literary Censorship,” 77–78;Heath, Purifying Empire, 141–42. Heath views the League as a confused mixture of liberal and illiberal impulses, actively supporting moral censorship at the same time as it opposed political censorship. Robert Darby is also quite dismissive of the BCAL, on similar grounds.Robert Darby, “The Censor as Literary Critic,” Westerly 31, no. 4(1986):39. Google Scholar

24.Existing accounts of the League, all of which are brief, includeAlomes, “Reasonable Men,” 115–25;Coleman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition, 115–18;Don Watson, Brian Fitzpatrick: A Radical Life(:Hale & Ironmonger, 1979), 67–70;Martin, Robert Menzies, Volume 1, 201–2;Moore, Censor’s Library, 124–28;Ai Kobayashi, W. Macmahon Ball: Politics for the People(:Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013), 35–38. Google Scholar

25.These included Manning Clark, Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Sir Zelman Cowen.Manning Clark, “Melbourne: An Intellectual Tradition,” Melbourne Historical Journal, no. 2 (1962):21;Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Solid Bluestone Foundations: And Other Memories of a Melbourne Girlhood 1908–1928, 3rd ed. (:Melbourne University Press, 1998), 182; both are cited inAdam Carr, “Intellectuals and Politics in 1930s Melbourne: Events Leading to the Formation of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, 1914–37”(PGDipArts thesis,University of Melbourne, 1997), 3.Zelman Cowen, A Public Life: The Memoirs of Sir Zelman Cowen(:Miegunyah Press, 2006), 73–75, cited inKobayashi,W. Macmahon Ball, 234; see also 32–33, 151–52. Google Scholar

26.Farrago, 17 September 1929, quoted inDon Watson, “The Thirties: An Intellectual Proletariat,” Arena, no. 35 (1974):41. On Ball generally, seeKobayashi,W. Macmahon Ball. Google Scholar

27.W. Glanville Cook, “Fifty Years of Rationalism,” The Australian Rationalist, no. 64 (2003):26–27. Google Scholar

28.Quoted inJohn Sendy, Melbourne’s Radical Bookshops: History, People, Appreciation(:International Bookshop, 1983), 65. On Rawson generally, seeIbid., 61–75. Google Scholar

29. Herald, 2 November1934, in NC201, n.p.;J. M. Harcourt, “The Banning of ‘Upsurge,’” Overland, no. 46 (Summer1970–71), 33; Book Censorship Abolition League, resolutions of the initial meeting, in the papers of William Macmahon Ball, MS 7851/7/1 NLA, and in Book Censorship Abolition League Correspondence, 1934, MS 10061, State Library of Victoria (SLV). Google Scholar

30.A. F. Howells, Against the Stream: The Memories of a Philosophical Anarchist, 1927–1939(:Hyland House, 1983), 111. Google Scholar

31.On Reynolds, seeJoy Damousi, Freud in the Antipodes: A Cultural History of Psychoanalysis in Australia, (:UNSW Press, 2005), 210;Cook, “Fifty Years of Rationalism,” 26. On Lazarus, seeWatson, Brian Fitzpatrick, 17–18;Edward James Waghorne, “Defending Democratic Rights: The Australian Council for Civil Liberties, 1936–1965”(PhD thesis,University of Melbourne, 2007), 2. On Harcourt andUpsurge, seeMoore, Censor’s Library, 86–89;Harcourt, “Banning of ‘Upsurge’”; report onUpsurgeby J. M. Harcourt, forwarded to the Board 26 July 1934, banned 20 November 1934, in A3023, Folder 1933/34, 51 NAA. Google Scholar

32.Harcourt, “Banning of ‘Upsurge,’” 33. The tone of a letter Ball wrote to Lyons appears to support Harcourt’s assertion: “The League has never had the slightest interest in ‘Upsurge,’ and it seemed, if I may say so with due courtesy, to be insulting and irrelevant for the Minister [White] to infer, by giving Mr. Harcourt such prominence in his remarks, that the League was moved by the desire to legalise indecency.” Ball to Lyons, 16 September 1935, in Ball’s papers, MS 7851/7/1 NLA. Google Scholar

33.Ball to Lyons, [August 1935], in Ball’s papers, MS 7851/7/1 NLA; also quoted inKobayashi,W. Macmahon Ball, 36. Google Scholar

34.Douglas, “Saving Australia from Sedition,” 170. Google Scholar

35.Darby, “Censor as Literary Critic,” 39. Google Scholar

36.On Ellery, seeSebastian Gurciullo, “Ellery, Reginald Spencer (Reg) (1897–1955),”inAustralian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 14(:Melbourne University Press, 1996), 89–90;Sendy, Melbourne’s Radical Bookshops, 66. On Fitzpatrick and Lucas, seeWatson, Brian Fitzpatrick, 17, 23–24, 77–78. On Davies, seeSheila Fitzpatrick, My Father’s Daughter: Memories of an Australian Childhood(:Melbourne University Press, 2010), 13–14. Google Scholar

37.Mark Finnane, J. V. Barry: A Life(:UNSW Press, 2007), especially80–86. Google Scholar

38.Star andHerald, 27 November1934;Age, 27 November1934, in William Macmahon Ball Scrapbook, vol. 1, copy held by Michael Crozier, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne. Google Scholar

39.Sun (Melbourne), 27 November 1934, in NC201, n.p.;Harcourt, “Banning of ‘Upsurge,’” 33; receipt, Rawson to Ball, 24 September 1934, in Ball’s papers, MS 7851/7/1 NLA; Kemp to L. M. Henderson, 20 November 1934, in MS 10061 SLV;Mercury(Hobart), 21 January1935. Google Scholar

40.Ball toLyons, 16 September 1935;Harcourt, “Banning of ‘Upsurge,’” 33.Compare Coleman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition, 115;Darby, “Censor as Literary Critic,” 39. Google Scholar

41.The role changed hands sometime between 12 April and 10 July 1935. [Star], 12 April 1935, in NC201, 19;SMH, 11 July1935. Google Scholar

42.Argus andAge, 27 November1934. Google Scholar

44. Mail(Adelaide), 19 January1935;West Australian(Perth), 29 January 1935;Mercury, 14 March1935. Google Scholar

45.Age, undated [February 1935?], clipping in NC201, n.p. Google Scholar

46.The most detailed analysis of the interconnectedness of the Australian and British moral regulatory regimes is inHeath, Purifying Empire. Google Scholar

47.CompareIbid., 141–42. Heath regards the BCAL’s position as incoherent because it did not oppose moral censorship with the same force as political censorship, however she does not account for its own distinction between the forms of authority – common law and Customs – upon which censorship rested. Google Scholar

48.For the circular manifesto, seeMail, 19 January1935;West Australian, 29 January1935;Mercury, 14 March1935. For the science congress resolution, seeStar, 23 January1935;Argus, 25 January1935. For Ball’s quote, seeStar, undated clipping titled “Censorship Revision,” in NC201, n.p. For the petition, see Petition Addressed to Parliament against Book Censorship, DOC 555 ML, and Ball’s papers, MS 7851/7/1 NLA. Google Scholar

49.That is, of those over the age of 21.Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia(:Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, 1935), 539. Google Scholar

50.Unidentified clipping titled “Censorship of Books,” March 1935 [no exact date];Telegraph(Sydney), 11 July 1935;Sun(Sydney), 18 August 1935; all are in NC201, 9, 39, 53.Mail, 24 August 1935. Some forms were circulating in February in South Australia, at least, through the trade unions.Advertiser(Adelaide), 26 February1935. Google Scholar

51.Unidentified clippings titled “Book Censorship Petition,” 4 February 1935; and “Censorship of Books,” March 1935 [no exact date]; both in NC201, n.p., 9.Star, 5 February1935. Google Scholar

53. “Trades Hall Council Resolution,”in NC201, n.p.;Argus, 23 February and 22 March 1935;W. G. K. Duncan to Ball, 12 March 1935, in Ball’s papers, MS 7851/1/2 NLA. Many of the church group resolutions are collected in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/8 NLA. They include, but are not restricted to, the results of a Methodist campaign from September–October 1935, in which individual congregations passed resolutions according to a templated wording. See alsoArgus, 19 February 1935;Age, 22 February and 18 April 1935;Star, 4 March1936. Google Scholar

54. SMH, 10 December1934;Star, 24 December1934;Argus, 2 and 9 February1935;Herald, 20 September and 22 October1935;Canberra Times, 23 October1935; all in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/6 NLA.HeraldandStar, 8 April 1935;Standard(Brisbane), 26 June 1935;News(Perth), 4 March 1936; all in NC201, 17, 45, 110.West Australian, 3 June 1936 and 25 September1936. Google Scholar

55. Argus, 3 September1935;Herald, 26 March and 24 May 1935;Manchester Guardian, 20 April 1936;Advertiser, 8 June 1936; all in NC201, 13, 29, 126–27. Google Scholar

56. Argus, 7 and 8 February1935;Star, 5 February1935. Google Scholar

57.Simonds, “Indecent Publications,”memo;CPD HR 146(27 March1935):352;Report of “The Star” Public Debate: “That Political Censorship Be Abolished,” [Star, March 1935], 16. In the latter, the figure of 400 is implied by the line “An average of one book a month since Federation has been prohibited for both indecency or sedition [sic].” Google Scholar

58.For White’s denial of the BCAL’s figures, seeCPD HR 146(27 March1935):354–55. For his acceptance of the average they implied, seeIbid., 352. White’s wording here is: “Since 1921, even including seditious and revolutionary literature the average of prohibitions during the most intensive period of censorship [ie since December 1933] has been only about six or seven publications per month.” Note that the use of “even including seditious and revolutionary” implies (incorrectly) that the average does not apply to the “seditious and revolutionary” alone. Compare White’s clear separation of the indecent and seditious categories in his use of this average inReport of “The Star” Public Debate, 16, though in that case the two categorieswereconflated in the other average reported (see previous note). Compare alsoMoore, Censor’s Library, 127. Google Scholar

59.The argument was made both privately and publicly: White to Keith Murdoch, 23 February 1935, in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/8 NLA;CPD HR 146(27 March1935):344, 350–51;Star, “Report of ‘The Star’ Public Debate,” 14. The quoted phrase is from a later iteration of it, Age, 27 August 1935, in Ball’s papers, MS 7851/7/1 NLA. Google Scholar

60.Herald, 27 August 1935, in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/6 NLA. Google Scholar

61.This argument is expressed most forcefully in “Report of Proceedings of Deputation Re: Censorship of Books [anti-censorship deputation],” 10 September 1935, 7–8, in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/4 NLA. See alsoCPD HR 146(27 March1935):343–44. Google Scholar

62.Ball, unidentified published letter, 27 March 1936, in Ball Scrapbook, vol. 1. Google Scholar

63.See, for example, Argus, 11 June 1930, quoted inMichael Pollak, Sense & Censorship: Commentaries on Censorship Violence in Australia(:Reed, 1990), 191. Google Scholar

64.TheStar‘s brief history is outlined inR. R. Walker, “A Star is Born, Burns Brightly, and Goes Out,” Age, 29 October1983; alsoBridget Griffen-Foley, “The Battle of Melbourne: The Rise and Fall of the Star,”inFrom the Frontier: Essays in Honour of Duncan Waterson, ed.Paul Ashton andBridget Griffen-Foley, special joint issue ofJournal of Australian Studies, no. 69, andAustralian Cultural History, no. 20 (2001):89–102. Google Scholar

65.Age, 8 February 1935, in Ball’s papers, MS 7851/7/1 NLA;Age, 28 August 1935, in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/6 NLA.The Sunday Times(Perth), which appears to have escaped White’s notice, was just as critical of the BCAL, but compared withThe Ageits influence was minimal.Sunday Times, 3 and 17 February1935. Google Scholar

67.White to Robertson, 19 March 1935; see also Jack Waters [StarEditor] to White, 7 February 1935; both in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/8 NLA. Google Scholar

68.Star, 27 February 1935;Cyril Pearl, “Sense, Censors, and Nonsense,” The Australian Author 1, no. 3(1969):7. Google Scholar

69. Star, 27 February1935;Report of “The Star” Public Debate, 3–13. The Labour Club, which viewed the debate as a distraction from more serious anti-censorship activism, took particular affront atThe Star‘s description of the debate as a form of entertainment: “It would have seemed grossly out of place in such an atmosphere to have exposed the brutal facts that form the basis of the ban on books,” namely, the conditions of capitalism.Wilbur N. Christiansen, “How to Fight the Book Ban,” Proletariat, April–June1935, 29. Christiansen’s criticism did not spare Ball on account of his being the Club’s co-founder. Watson has identified a radicalisation of the Club following Ball’s departure as president in 1929.Watson, “The Thirties,” 41. Google Scholar

70.For letters to the press, seeStar, 27 February, 1, 5 and 6 March 1935; clipping titled “Charge of ‘Hypocrisy,’”Star, [March 1935], in NC201, 10;Argus, 5 March 1935. On Lyons’ travels, seeWest Australian, 26 February 1935;Argus, 13 August1935. Google Scholar

71. BrisbaneCourier-Mail, 12 March1935;CPD Senate 145(12 December1934):1051–57;CPD HR 146(27 March1935):326–55;Mercury, 14 and 29 March 1935;Examiner(Launceston), 29 March1935. Google Scholar

72. Argus, 3 May1935;Age, 3 May1935, in NC201, 29;Mercury, 25 April1935. Google Scholar

73. SMH, 11 and 20 July1935;P. R. Stephensen, The Foundations of Culture in Australia: An Essay Towards National Self Respect(:W. J. Miles, 1936), 7–8. Google Scholar

74.“[Sydney] Book Censorship Abolition League: Aims and Objects,” in NC201, n.p.;SMH, 29 August 1935; Jessie Street letter to the editor, SMH, 11 September 1935.The Quick and the Deadwas subsequently published inFlora S. Eldershaw, ed., Australian Writers’ Annual(:Will Lawson, for the Fellowship of Australian Writers, 1936), 91–95. Google Scholar

75.These arguments are surveyed inCarr, “Intellectuals and Politics,” 22–24. The quoted phrases are from Clark’s 1962 article, “Melbourne,”20. Google Scholar

76.Duncan to Ball, 12 March1935. Google Scholar

77.Herald, 24 August 1935;Sun(Melbourne), AgeandArgus, 26 August 1935; all in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/6 NLA.Star, 26 August 1935, in Ball’s papers, MS 7851/7/1 NLA. Google Scholar

78.StarandHerald, 28 August 1935, both in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/6 NLA. Google Scholar

79. “Report of Proceedings [anti-censorship deputation],”10 September 1935, 1, 23. Google Scholar

80.Ibid., 2–3, 7. White was referring to the objective printed on the BCAL letterhead: “Immediate Objective: Right of entry into Australia without censorship of all books at present published and circulating freely in Great Britain.” A document on BCAL letterhead is held in Ball’s papers, MS 7851/7/1 NLA. Google Scholar

81. “Report of Proceedings [anti-censorship deputation],”10 September1935, 25–26, 29. Google Scholar

82.Theo Lucas, “Progress Report,” n.d. [after 16 September 1935], in the papers of Samuel MacMahon Wadham, accession no. 1964.0014/9/66, University of Melbourne Archives; “Report of Proceedings of Deputation Re: Censorship of Books [pro-censorship deputation],” 10 September 1935, in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/7 NLA. Google Scholar

83.FollowingColeman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition, 114, the reinstatement of the Attorney-General’s Department is usually dated from September. Coleman in turn probably took this date from a line in CCL, Six Acts, 23, in reference to the September delegation, that “it was about this time that he [White] finally threw all responsibility for the banning of political works on the Attorney-General’s Department.” However, White had claimed the Attorney-General’s Department’s involvement as early as March, and did so again in late August, though these claims may not have been truthful.CPD HR 146(27 March1935):348;Age, 27 August 1935. What is certain is that Ralph Fox’sCommunismhad been referred to the Attorney-General’s Department in June or early July, though the case may have been an outlier. Customs report onCommunism, 3 September 1935, in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/6 NLA. The book was detained on 7 June 1935; a legal opinion was provided by the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department on 11 July1935. Google Scholar

84.SMH, 7 September 1935. Customs report onCommunism; Age, 3 September 1935;HeraldandStar, 5 September 1935; all in White’s papers, MS 9148/7/6 NLA. Google Scholar

85.Martin, Robert Menzies, Volume 1, 202. See also CCL, Six Acts, 23;John Hilvert, Blue Pencil Warriors: Censorship and Propaganda in World War II(:University of Queensland Press, 1984), 37. Google Scholar

86.Rawson toLucas, 21 July 1937, in the papers of Brian Fitzpatrick, MS 4965/1/9906 NLA. Google Scholar

87.The quoted phrase is fromSMH, 17 June 1937. Ball to Lyons, 16 September 1935; and Ball to Lyons, 22 October 1935; both in Ball’s papers, MS 7851/7/1 NLA.Herald, 6 December1935. Google Scholar

90.Quoted inWatson, Brian Fitzpatrick, 81. Google Scholar

91.Ibid., 78;Carr, “Intellectuals and Politics,” 3–4;Argus, 8 May1936. Google Scholar

92.See the motion to merge the BCAL into the CCL, CCL executive committee minutes, 16 April 1937, in Fitzpatrick’s papers, MS 4965/1/9 NLA, but also the press reports on the League from June 1937:Herald, 16 June 1937, Advertiser, 17 June 1937; compareMoore, Censor’s Library, 125andWatson, Brian Fitzpatrick, 70. Google Scholar

93. CPD HR 150(May1936):1430–31, 2243; CCL, Six Acts, 23; see alsoDouglas, “Saving Australia from Sedition,” 150–51. Google Scholar

94.Customs(Literature Censorship) Regulations 1937, copy in Allen’s papers, MS 2113 NLA;ArgusandHerald, 16 June 1937;SMH, 17 June 1937. The most notable instance of subsequent ministerial involvement in the censorship process was the 1941 rebanning, following its release in 1937, of Joyce’sUlyssesby the then-Minister for Trade and Customs E. J. Harrison.Moore, Censor’s Library, 115–17. Google Scholar

95.Coleman, Obscenity, Blasphemy, Sedition, 117. The only evidence I have found of the League’s activities between May 1936 and June 1937 relates to the proposed release in March 1937 ofBrave New WorldandA Farewell to Arms; SMHandAdvertiser, 26 March1937. Google Scholar

96.Rawson to Lucas, 21 July 1937;Douglas, “Saving Australia from Sedition,” 156. Google Scholar

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Author details

Barnes, Joel