Censorship and the working class reader - celebrating the bicentenary of William Hone's trials

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar


A free public talk with Fiona Milne (University of York) celebrating the bicentenary of a pivotal event in the history of British censorship.In December 1817, the radical satirist and publisher William Hone successfully defended himself in three high-profile prosecutions for blasphemous and seditious libel. Fiona Milne (University of York) will introduce Hone’s trials and political satires, examining why the state tried so hard to suppress Hone’s pamphlets, and why Hone’s victory was important.Dr Katherine Inglis (University of Edinburgh) will explore the case of Henry Vizetelly, prosecuted and imprisoned for obscene libel, for publishing Emile Zola’s works in translation. She will use Vizetelly's case to look at how censorship targeted working-class readers.The WCML has a wealth of related materials in its collections, and there’ll be a chance to handle original documents, including political pamphlets and published editions of trials.We hope to open up a discussion on these cases and the issues they raise, including censorship, working-class readers, political protest, “forbidden books”, and the changing legal face of censorship in Britain.
Period16 Nov 2017
Event typeConference
LocationSalford, United KingdomShow on map


  • censorship
  • history of reading
  • working-class readers
  • libel
  • sedition
  • blasphemy
  • obscenity
  • William Hone
  • Henry Vizetelly
  • nineteenth-century literature