Last Saturday, my review of Nicholas Grene’s new book appeared in The Irish Times. A short excerpt and a link to the full review follow:
When Britain’s Lord Chamberlain read the script of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, he determined immediately that it would have to be censored before a London performance could be permitted. Any references to what his report called the “four-letter word” would have to be cut; so would any other sexual allusions (the word “rutting” particularly bothered him).
He also objected to the play’s explicit treatment of homosexuality. In Williams’s original, the heroine Blanche recounts the devastation she endured upon discovering her husband in bed with another man (a discovery that prompted her husband’s suicide). The censor declared that the husband should instead be found sleeping “with a negress” – a sufficiently “disgraceful” transgression, he thought.
That was not the strangest of the censor’s admonitions…