S5 E4 Girls, girls: Mead ‘Growing up in Samoa’ (1928)

This short popular anthropology book made Margaret Mead into a prominent public intellectual. It’s full of radical ideas about family formation, gender roles and sexual expression. Written by a woman who believed in polygamy, it’s a wonder it took nearly 20 years for the Irish censors to ban it.

First edition cover art for ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’

S5 E3 All the antis: Shatter ‘Laura’ (1989)

A bestseller in 1989, nobody took any offense at this slim novel by a prominent politician and solicitor until 2013. A silly, weird and revealing referral of ‘Laura’ the censorship board led to some interesting political gymnastics.

In spite of the tagline, it’s not that memorable.

S5 E1 Mollocking: Gibbons, ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ (1932)

A hilarious sketch on the novels of Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and DH Lawrence seems like an odd target for the censors. But the satire couldn’t cover up the contraceptive advice and sexual deviance.

First edition cover art. Yes, there are anthropomorphic cows in this novel.

S4 BONUS Fecundshite: Joyce ‘Ulysses’ (1922)

James Joyce went way beyond smut when he wrote Ulysses, an epic modernist masterpiece. The censorship history of Ulysses is as mind boggling as the author’s bloody-minded determination to offend. In a bizarre twist, this filthy book was never banned in Ireland.

Cover of the first edition

S4 E10 Unsuitable for Irish: bold books as Gaeilge

The scrutiny of the censor was confined to the English language. But works in Irish, the other language of the state, were also censored by editors, bureaucrats and catholic reactionaries. No language was allowed to explore scandalous ‘sex feelings’.