Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (John Murray, 1859) has been named the most influential banned book following a public vote during Academic Book Week (4th to 9th March).
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (PRH, 1960) and George Orwell’s 1984 (PRH, 1949) were declared runners-up.
On the Origin of Species introduced the idea of ‘natural selection’ and speciation and was first banned in 1859 by the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, where Darwin had been a student. In 1925, Tennessee banned the teaching of the theory of evolution in schools; the law remained in force until 1967. The book was also banned in Yugoslavia in 1935 and in Greece in 1937
Emma Bradshaw, head of campaigns at the Booksellers Association, said: “It’s fascinating to see the results of the Academic Book Week public vote to find the most influential banned book. On the Origin of Species has shaped the way in which we think about our entire history as a human race, despite attempts to ban it.”
Selected by academic booksellers across the UK and Ireland in association with Index on Censorship, the shortlisted books were variously banned on the grounds of their political views, indecency, sexual explicitness, blasphemy, racism, violent content, and offensive language.
Academic Book Week’s shortlist of most influential banned books featured A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller (PRH), Beloved by Toni Morrison (PRH) and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (PRH). The full shortlist can be found here.
On the Origin of Species was also chosen as the most influential academic book of all time during the inaugural Academic Book Week in 2015.