Unmasking 'The Confessional Unmasked'

Arts building - lecture room 5
Tuesday 29 November 2016 (16:00)
  • 19th Century seminar

Speaker: Dr Katy Mullin (University of Leeds)

Venue: Arts Building, Lecture Room 5


In 1868, Regina v. Hicklin transformed British obscenity law by setting aside the question of authorial intention. The implication of the judgement would have lasting effects in the UK and the USA for nearly a century, preventing James Joyce, D H Lawrence, Radclyffe Hall and others from using the defence of artistic merit when charged with obscenity. Yet the text on trial in 1868 was The Confessional Unmasked, a religious tract circulated by an evangelical organisation, the Protestant Electoral Union. This paper will uncover the extraordinary story behind this landmark judgement to explore how hard cases make bad law.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities