Banned books are books or other printed works such as essays or plays which are prohibited by law or to which free access is not permitted by other means. The practice of banning books is a form of censorship, from political, legal, religious, moral, or (less often) commercial motives. This article lists notable banned books and works, giving a brief context for the reason that each book was prohibited. Banned books include fictional works such as novels, poems and plays and non-fiction works such as biographies and dictionaries.
Since there are a large number of banned books, some publishers have specialized in them. The best-known examples are the Parisian Obelisk Press, which published Henry Miller’s sexually frank novel Tropic of Cancer, and Olympia Press, which published William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch. Both of these, the work of father Jack Kahane and son Maurice Girodias, specialized in English-language books which were prohibited, at the time, in Great Britain and the United States. Template:Interlanguage link multi, also located in Paris, specialized in books prohibited in Spain during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Russian literature prohibited during the Soviet period was published outside of Russia.
Books are still banned throughout the world. Nowhere in the world can everything be published, although the prohibitions vary strikingly from one country to another: hate speech, for example, is prohibited in a number of countries, such as Sweden, though the same books may be legal in the United States or United Kingdom, where the only prohibition is on child pornography. Some believe that the banning of specific books is appropriate, such as the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in Russia, or Hitler’s Mein Kampf, in Austria.