Freedom of speech

King James Bible Gospel according to John

King James Bible

Until the mid-1500s, attempts to give lay people access to an English-language Bible had resulted in severe punishment. Finally, in 1611, came an officially approved version that also had enduring appeal: the King James, or Authorised, Version

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Cover of John Milton's Areopagatica

John Milton's Areopagatica

John Milton's Areopagitica of 1644, a reaction to the punishment of press-freedom campaigners such as John Lilburne, was a powerful call against censorship

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Petition to Cromwell

Petition to Cromwell

After Edward I expelled all Jews from England in 1290, it took over 350 years before they could return. This petition, by the noted rabbi and publisher Menasseh ben Israel, was instrumental in assisting their acceptance into British society

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Gordon Riots handbill

Gordon riots handbill

Amid the riots against pro-Catholic legislation, this printed handbill of 1780 urges Protestants not to wear blue cockades in their hat, or to associate with anyone who does, claiming they such cockades are the mark of a troublemaker

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Oz obscenity trial stickers

Oz obscenity trial

Three young editors of the satirical magazine Oz were put on trial for 'corrupting public morals' at the Old Bailey in 1971. The obscenity case turned into a farce, exposing hyprocrisy and corruption in the authorities, and its impact still reverberates many decades on

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