DURHAM Cathedral’s Refectory Library is preparing to display exploring a specially-curated collection of early printed banned books.

Historic books on display from Saturday, October 12, were all penned by writers who had their works censored – some by the Vatican and the Index Librorum Prohibitorum- the Roman Catholic Church’s List of Prohibited Books; some by Oliver Cromwell; some by the Royal families of Britain and France.

Some of these works led to writers being arrested, cast out from their cities, or put in the stocks. It is the of two Treasures of Durham Cathedral Library events

Alison Cullingford, head of collections at Durham Cathedral, said: "Books, and the incendiary concepts found within their pages, have long prompted controversy.

"This event gives us a wonderful opportunity to highlight some of the provocative concepts and ideas that have sat quietly amongst the volumes in Durham Cathedral Library for centuries.’

Highlights on display include a 14th century Durham Priory manuscript of the works of Aristotle, which was banned by the University of Paris, as well as a ‘false imprint’ of the works of Machiavelli, where the printer doctored the official print date of the book to avoid being charged with illegal printing.

There are also works by Dante, Milton, Galileo, Diderot, Hobbes and Defoe, amongst others.

Sarah-Jane Raymond, Assistant Librarian at Durham Cathedral, said: ‘Daniel Defoe was put in the stocks for the pamphlets he produced. Dante Alighieri was banished from his beloved Florence. John Milton went into hiding, fearing for his life while his criticisms of Charles I were burnt in public. Meanwhile, printers were having to come up with ever-more ingenious ways of flouting such bans. We are very happy to be able to tell some of these stories, and more, in greater detail, with the display of the very books that caused such furore."

Two sessions are running from 2pm-3pm and 3.30pm-4.30pm on Saturday October 12 – as part of the Durham Book Festival. The event will be repeated on Wednesday 27 November, with sessions running at the same times

Tickets are priced at £5 per adult and £4.50 concession. book online at www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/whats-on/oct-treasures-banned-books.