The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, November 1907

The Abolition of the Censor.

(A Peep into the Future.)

AS  I was passing through the Park
In 1912 a.d.
I heard a sudden rifle-shot,
Which rather startled me.
I said, ‘Policeman, what was that?’
He answered, courteously:

‘It’s that there persecuted cove,
The Licenser of Plays.
Those dramatists they wait for him
With guns where’er he strays.
We winks at it; for Genius, Sir,
Will have its little ways.

‘Another shot? I rayther think
That’s Mr. Barker. He
And Mr. Shaw comes every day,
Each to his special tree,
And tries to pick the Censor off
As he goes home to tea.

‘My chum, old Billy Jones, what’s on
The Cambridge Circus beat,
Tells me they’re playing the same old game
All along Oxford Street.
And Mr. Garnett’s shooting is,
He says, especial neat.

‘And Mr. Redford? Well, ’e don’t
Seem very much upset.
He don’t appear to think that there’s
Much call for him to fret:
For, as he very justly says,
’E ain’t abolished yet.’



Printed unsigned; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work as “The Censor.”


Mr. Redford: G. A. Redford was Reader of Plays in the Lord Chamberlain’s Office (responsible for dramatic censorship and licensing) at the time.
Dramatists mentioned are George Bernard Shaw, Harley Granville-Barker, and Edward Garnett (1868–1937), whose play The Breaking Point had been denied a licence in 1907, but who was able to publish it in book form, together with an open letter to the censor written by critic William Archer.