Top Ten World’s Most Expensive Banned Books Many literary works regarded as classics today were originally banned from publication.
This list features the ten most valuable rare books that were once regarded as too obscene to print!
News-Antique.com - May 24,2012 - 10) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, regarded as one of the greatest in American literature, was published in 1939 and immediately courted controversy.
It was banned by several authorities in California for its depiction of the cruel treatment suffered by incoming migrant workers in the state, and several book burnings took place until the ban was lifted in 1941.
In 2002 a 1st edition presentation copy bearing an inscription by Steinbeck sold at Christie’s for $41,825.
9) Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H Lawrence
D.H Lawrence’s 1928 novel was banned on both sides of the Atlantic for its use of ‘obscene’ words and the depiction of sex. It became an underground hit, and led to a highly publicized obscenity trial in the U.K in 1960 when it was officially published by Penguin Books. Charged under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act, Penguin proved the book had literary merit and the ban was lifted.
In October 2002, Christie’s in New York sold a privately printed copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover (circa 1929) for $31,070.
8) Animal Farm by George Orwell
George Orwell’s allegorical story, which is highly critical the Soviet Union under Stalin, was initially banned in the U.K during the Second World War as the U.S.S.R fought alongside the Allies.
It was later banned in Kenya in the 1990s for its depiction of corrupt leaders, and in United Arab Emirates schools for its inclusion of a talking pig (which opposes the ideas of Islam).
A signed 1945 1st edition copy of Animal Farm sold at Sotheby’s in 2004 for a price of $50,400.
7) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Flaubert’s groundbreaking and highly influential work Madame Bovary was first serialized in La Revue de Paris in 1856, and published a year later in a single volume.
The book, which tells the tale of a frustrated wife who commits adultery, was banned by the French government and Flaubert was prosecuted (and later acquitted) for "offences against public morals".
In 2007, an 1857 1st edition copy signed and inscribed by Flaubert sold at Sotheby’s in Paris for a price of $51,960.
6) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘Magnum Opus’ The Scarlet Letter tells the story of adultery in the Puritanical society of the New World in the 17th century. A bestseller upon its release in 1850, the book was later banned in Russia and in schools throughout America for its themes of adultery and extra-marital affairs.
In 2005 a rare 1st edition presentation copy featuring an inscription from the author sold at Sotheby’s for $57,000.
5) Fanny Hill by John Cleland
John Cleland’s ‘Fanny Hill’ is one of the most banned books of all time, and regarded as the first British pornographic novel. Written by Cleland in 1748 whilst he was in a debtor’s prison, the book was banned a year later as Cleland and the publisher were arrested and charged with “corrupting the King's subjects”.