Dr Nicole Moore

Margaret George Award 2004

Topic: An examination of records of the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board, part of a project to re-examine the history of 20th-century censorship in Australia
Dr Moore presented her findings in a public lecture at the National Archives in Canberra on 2 May 2005.

Biographical note

Dr Nicole Moore is a lecturer in English at Macquarie University, where she teaches in the areas of Australian Literature and Australian Studies. She has published broadly in the field of Australian literary studies and Australian cultural history, with a focus on the work of the women writers of the 1930s and 1940s. Her work explores the relationship of Australian literary culture to transforming ideas about Australia's past, and asking questions about the role of writing in delineating more or less acceptable forms of living and identity in our culture. She is the editor of the scholarly edition of Jean Devanny's 1936 strike novel, Sugar Heaven (Vulgar Press 2002), and is currently the review editor of Australian Humanities Review.


Dr Moore undertook a large project re-examining the history of 20th-century censorship in Australia. The history of Australian literary censorship is rich and long, but we did not know exactly what was banned, when and why. Even a complete bibliographic list of literary titles that were prohibited as imports under the formal powers of the Commonwealth censorship agencies had not been compiled. This project categorised and considered the significance of instances throughout the twentieth century.

Dr Moore used her award to examine the records of the federal agencies responsible for censorship prior to the current classification system. The National Archives is the repository for the records of the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board, an agent of the federal Department of Trade and Customs, which was responsible for the majority of censorship decisions under the prohibited imports Acts. From her detailed analysis of these records, a more systematic account of literary censorship practice in Australia has emerged.


Co-winner of the National Archives Margaret George Award, Dr Nicole Moore researched the archival history of decisions made by the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board from 1933 to 1967. Dr Moore has uncovered fascinating accounts by the censors for banning writers like George Orwell and Christina Stead, and is working towards the first accurate account of just how many books were banned, and why.


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