Rebecca West? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: The prominent British author and literary critic Rebecca West once compared book banning to infanticide. Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: In 1928 Rebecca West published a collection of essays and reviews titled “The Strange Necessity” which included a piece titled “The Tosh Horse” containing West’s bold statement. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide.
West continued by listing a few works that had offended censors and the censorious:
But one begins to remember what books have been banned during the last few years. Mr. D. H. Lawrence’s sincere and not for one second disgusting The Rainbow; Mr. Neil Lyons’s beautifully felt Cottage Pie; Brute Gods, that astringent product of Mr. Louis Wilkinson’s unique talent.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order
In 1985 the quotation together with a correct citation appeared in “A Teacher’s Treasury of Quotations”. 2
God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide. —Rebecca West,
The Strange Necessity: The Tosh Horse (1928)
In conclusion, Rebecca West deserves credit for this remark.
- 1928, The Strange Necessity: Essays and Reviews by Rebecca West, Chapter 11: The Tosh Horse, Start Page 319, Quote Page 324, Jonathan Cape, London, England. (Verified with scans) ↩
- 1985, A Teacher’s Treasury of Quotations, Compiled by Bernard E. Farber, Topic: Censorship, Quote Page 45, McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina. (Verified on paper) ↩
- 1987 Copyright, The Delights of Reading: Quotes, Notes & Anecdotes by Otto L. Bettmann, Chapter: Book Banners, Quote Page 102, Published by David R. Godine, Boston, Massachusetts, in association with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. (Verified with scans) ↩
- 1991, Bloomsbury Dictionary of Quotations, Edited by John Daintith et al, Entry: Dame Rebecca West, Quote Page 411, Bloomsbury Publishing Limited, London. (Verified with scans) ↩