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Voting opens on Wednesday 18 July

The Handmaid’s Tale? Harry Potter? The Colour Purple? What’s your favourite banned book?

To launch Banned Books Week UK, which takes place this September, organisers want the public to vote for their favourite banned book. From Wednesday 18 July until 22 August, the Banned Books censored summer reads will suggest 5 titles each fortnight from books that have been banned, censored or challenged. The public will be encouraged to try books they might not have considered before and vote on their favourite to be in with a chance of winning their very own box of banned books.

Titles include texts well-known for having caused controversy, such as The Communist Manifesto and Lady Chatterley’s Lover but it also includes novels less well-known for having provoked the censors’ ire such as collections by Maya Angelou, who is one of the USA’s most censored authors; J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and even children’s book And Tango Makes Three condemned for highlighting gay parenting….by penguins.

The Banned Books censored summer reads opens on Wednesday 18 July and the results of the best banned book vote will be published in September ahead of Banned Books Week, which runs from 23 – 29 September 2018. Participants will be entered into a draw to win a box of 10 banned books donated by Vintage Books, which have all been challenged or subject to censorship including titles such as Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and the Margarita.

The list of suggested titles, compiled by Index on Censorship and Media Diversified, will be available on the Banned Books Week website www.bannedbooksweek.co.uk. The website will also offer additional material including a top 10 ideas of what to do during Banned Books Week, a  young adult banned books list and schools toolkit compiled by Islington Council’s Library and Heritage Service.

Banned Books Week UK mirrors a similar initiative in the United States and aims to highlight the importance of ensuring the freedom to read, write and publish. Libraries, bookshops, schools and reading groups are being encouraged to hold events that celebrate the freedom to read and challenge the silencing of voices and ideas.

Events already planned include a special evening at the British Library with Censored: Inside the Lord Chamberlain’s Office marking the enactment of the Theatres Act 1968, which abolished theatre censorship in the United Kingdom, as well as a Banned Books Week Quiz hosted by Saqi books plus readings and talks by partners and participants.

Resources will be available for schools, bookshops and libraries on the Banned Books Week website in the coming weeks.

For more information, please contact Anna Millward at anna@indexoncensorship.org or 020 7963 7296.

Notes to editors

  • Banned Books Week was launched in the United States in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in attempts to have books removed or otherwise restricted in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association.
  • The Banned Books Week UK coalition consists of: The British Library, British Publishers Association, English PEN, Free Word, Hachette UK, Index on Censorship, Islington Council’s Library and Heritage Services, Libraries Connected Media Diversified and the Royal Society of Literature.
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