Online Library of Liberty

A collection of scholarly works about individual liberty and free markets. A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.

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Banned Books Week (2013)

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Many of the works in the Online Library of Liberty have been banned or censored at various times by governments, established churches, and pubic schools for their content. Below is a list of authors in the OLL whose works have been banned at various times. The “Beacon for Freedom of Expression. Dedicated to the Library of Alexandria” website has a useful [database}( where you can search for your favourite author or title to see if they have been banned.

See our collection of Banned Books in the OLL.

The list below has been compiled from the following sources:

Authors who have Banned Books in the OLL (and some of their titles):

  • Francis Bacon: The Advancement of Learning 1605; Novum Organum 1620
  • Beaumarchais: The Barber of Seville, or the Useless Precaution 1775; The Marriage of Figaro (or the Follies of a Day) 1784
  • Calvin: The Institutes of the Christian Religion 1537
  • Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
  • Condorcet: Outlines of an historical view of the progress of the human mind 1795
  • Confucius: The Analects
  • Dante: The Divine Comedy
  • Descartres: The Method, Meditations and Philosophy of Descartes 1637
  • Erasmus: The Colloquies 2 vols. 1518; The Complaint of Peace 1521; The Manual of a Christian Knight 1501
  • Galileo: Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences (1638)
  • Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1776
  • Hobbes: Leviathan 1651
  • Homer: Iliad and Odyssey Hume: Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals 1777; The Natural History of Religion 1757; A Treatise of Human Nature 1739
  • Kant: Critique of Pure Reason
  • Locke: An Essay concerning Human Understanding 1689
  • Machiavelli: The Prince
  • J.S. Mill: The Principles of Political Economy 1848
  • Milton: Areopagitica 1664
  • Montaigne: Essays 1580
  • Montesquieu: The Spirit of the Laws (1751); The Persian Letters (1762)
  • Paine: The Age of Reason
  • Pascal: Pensées (Thoughts)
  • Rousseau: The Social Contract
  • Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice 1623; Twelfth-Night: or, What You Will 162; Macbeth 1623: King Lear 1608
  • Adam Smith: Wealth of Nations 1776
  • Spinoza: Tractatus-Theologico-Politicus, Tractatus Politicus 1670
  • Voltaire: Candide, ou l’Optimisme 1759; Philosophical Letters 1733; and Philosophic Dictionary

I was very interested to note that the 19th century French political economists were on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. In particular the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1852-53) which was put on the Index of Banned Books on 12 June 1856 for “religious reasons,” most likely for its articles on Malthus and population in which they advocated “moral restraint” in the planning of the size of one’s family.

See the “Beacon for Freedom of Expression” database of banned books and the entry for the DEP.

Last modified April 13, 2016