Obscenity & the Arts began in an oblong room, the engine-house of a former mill, situated within an area once dubbed ‘Little Ireland’, surrounded as we were, by Anthony Burgess’s furniture. Indelible images of twentieth century criminality blazed large on a screen at the very end of the room. An articulate and astute Mark Blacklock […]

Reading Ulysses by James Joyce was perhaps the first time that Anthony Burgess had experienced forbidden literature. He first read Ulysses as a school boy, though his recollections of the event are inconsistent. In Little Wilson and Big God, he claims a teacher ‘had brought it back from illiberal Nazi Germany in the two-volume Odyssey […]

A Clockwork Orange is the most famous, and superficially the most controversial, of Anthony Burgess’s novels, with its themes of ultraviolence and state control, yet it never attracted the attention of the censors. His novel that was most profoundly affected by censorship, although not for reasons of obscenity or politics, was The Worm and the […]

A few months after Anthony Burgess had moved to Malta in November 1968, his personal library was inspected by officials of the Postmaster General’s Office in Valletta. Malta’s strict laws against the vilification of religion, obscenity and immorality meant that a number of Burgess’s books were confiscated and destroyed. The official documents relating to the […]

When the novel Lolita appeared in 1955, Vladimir Nabokov was a little known Russian novelist who had emigrated to the United States. After Olympia Press published the novel in Paris, Nabokov quickly became famous, not for his virtuosic control over language but for the scandal his novel had provoked. Olympia Press was generally regarded as […]

A year before Anthony Burgess moved to Malta in 1968, he became involved in a controversy about the banning of books closer to home. On the question of whether or not books should be suppressed because they might incite people to commit crimes, he robustly came down on the side of free expression. The Moors […]

  In 1968, Anthony Burgess sold his properties in Chiswick and Etchingham and moved to Malta. The journey to his new home was undertaken by road, in a Bedford Dormobile driven by his new wife, Liana. As they drove south across Europe, Burgess sat in the back of the motor-caravan with his typewriter. Later he […]

Our new exhibition reconstructs the collection of ‘indecent’ books owned by Anthony Burgess and destroyed by the Maltese government. In October 1968 Anthony Burgess married his second wife, Liana Macellari, and they decided to leave England for good. They bought an eighteenth-century palazzo in Malta and decided to begin a new life there. They packed […]