To commemorate Banned Books Week, University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives features books in our collection which have been banned or challenged. One of the most frequently banned or challenged books in America according to lists maintained by the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom is Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Special Collections has multiple copies of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn included in its Mark Twain Collection. Here is an illustrator’s view of Huckleberry Finn from the 1886 edition of the book in Special Collections.
Since its publication in 1884, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has generated controversy. The first ban of the book occurred in Concord, Massachusetts just one month after its release when librarians there called it “trash and suitable only for slums.” Twain’s book has been repeatedly challenged based on its treatment of race and the author’s language. It ranks #14 on the 100 Most Banned or Challenged Books from 2000-2009. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been included in a Library of Congress exhibit, Books that Shaped America, that explores books “that have had a profound effect on American life.”