50 Years Ago: The Obscenity Laws

  A denouncement of young women authors who write obscene books was made by Miss Christabel Pankhurst in a speech at the Æolian Hall, Bond Street, yesterday. She said that pagan novels were much in evidence today and she was grateful to the Home Secretary for the step he had taken regarding books that were not decent to read. This is not the sort of freedom for which we women fought and got the vote.

(Daily Chronicle March 7th)


We do not know by what standard Miss Christabel Pankhurst judges what is decent to read, nor do we remember any special protest being made during the war either by Miss Pankhurst or the present Home Secretary when reams of literature with plentiful details of war-time atrocities were circulated among young people in order to fuel the war fever. We gave it as our opinion at the time that under normal conditions such material would probably meet with the attention of the police. Evidently what is necessary to our masters at one time shocks them at another.


(From an article “An echo of the past” by comrade MacHaffie, Socialist Standard April 1929)