Theodore Dreiser
Nov, 1933
Theodore Dreiser (1871 - 1945) was a famous American novelist and journalist. Dreiser's book "An American Tragedy" (1925) was banned in Boston in April 1927 on the grounds that it was obscene. Horace Liveright, an American publisher and stage producer, become involved in Dreiser's freedom of expression fight in an obscenity trial and Clarence Darrow was a witness for the defense and also assisted the defense team. Darrow read a chapter from the book to the jury. Darrow also argued that "not all literature should be tailored for the feeble minded and the very young." But the prosecutor asked the jury if they would want their fifteen-year old daughters to read the passages he had recited in court. An assistant editor for the publisher was convicted of obscenity for "selling an obscene, indecent, and impure book." The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the conviction. The litigation took a long time and cost both Dreiser and the Liveright firm's a lot of money. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, LC-USZ62-42486. Dreiser Letter to Darrow