5 Books So Naughty You Almost Weren't Allowed to Read Them

These days it seems the world and her nan spends every spare minute devouring the bizarre adventures of bondage enthusiasts that passes for erotica these days. This sexual liberalisation of literature is a fairly recent development though, and there have been times when certain books were deemed so disgusting that society would literally melt if the general public was allowed unfettered access to their depraved and inhuman contents. Flowers in the Attic is one of these illustrious titles – here are five more novels that were too naughty for consumption...

1 Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence (1928)
An obvious place to start perhaps, but obvious for good reason. Banned for its, at the time anyway, salacious passages, daring as they do to show a woman freely enjoying the fringe benefits of having staff while getting some fresh air. For many though, it wasn't just the adulterous, outdoor sex that was controversial – it was a scandal of equal proportions that her Ladyship's special friend was... working class. Shocked in the extreme, the establishment rushed to ban the book before the oiks got any funny ideas – and banned it stayed until, unbelievably, 1960.

2 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
A novel about a middle-aged man's obsession and sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl who later becomes his abused step-daughter before dying in childbirth was banned? How shocking! Yes, whether intentional or not, Nabokov's allegedly ‘tragi-comic' novel about the fine line between being a voyeur and being a paedophile (hint, it's not that fine a line) was one of the most controversial of the Fifties. Banned in the UK for three years, and going on to inspire a pretty good movie, mediocre songs by Sting and word for teenage girls in bikinis who are not attracted to men old enough to be their granddads, Lolita has since been applauded as one of the best novels of the 20th Century.

3 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (1722)
When Defoe published his tale of a feisty woman living by her wits and the generosity/stupidity of the men around her in 1722, he can have no idea just how much trouble he would cause... over 150 years later. Yes, it seems even classic novels can sometimes be regarded by fresh eyes as an abomination, and Moll Flanders was banned in America in 1873 for, of course, obscenity. And if you think America was a bit behind, Australia waited until the 20th Century to ban it – twice.

4 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1856)
This tale of an adulterous woman and her string of affairs caused such a stir in Flaubert's native France that he was put on trial for ‘offences against public morals'. Emma Rouen's multiple partners and desire for a less boring husband offended much of French high Society at the time, and both Flaubert and his publishers were named in the suit. And, despite everyone being acquitted – and rightly so – the book was banned in Britain until the 1930s.


She wanted to die, but she also wanted to live in Paris.

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

5 Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)
Despite being named as the best English language novel of the 20th Century, Joyce's masterpiece wasn't always so well received. Banned in the UK until 1933 for its descriptions of, ahem, self pleasure among other things, Ulysses also has the honour of having been set on fire by members of US Postal Service. Since then, the novel has been lauded as an insane work of genius, and its main character – Leopold Bloom – even has his own day – Bloomsday. Which is June 16th if you're wondering. How things change...