Miniature Book News #108: 2001 March Page: 1


Number 108 8 St. Andrews Dr., St. Louis, Mo. 63124 March, 2001

The process of procreation and
attempts to limit life's creation are
much in the worldwide news these
days and much discussed. Almost
two centuries ago these subjects
were taboo and avoided.
In 1832 a book, published in New
York, appeared on the subject of
contraception. It's title was the
Fruits of Philosophy. It was a
first, and it was published in
miniature format.
The publication of this miniature
book would lead to the author's
imprisonment in the United States,
ultimately to a sensational court trial
in Britain, and become a landmark in
the world birth control movement. It
would also become the major cause
of a dramatic and steady decline in
the English birthrate.
In 1981, Professor S.
Chandrasekhar, an internationally
respected social scientist, wrote a
scholarly book, published by the
University of California Press, on
this entire subject. Lets let excerpts
from his book's inside dust jacket
describe the situation:
"'I say that this is a dirty, filthy
book, and the test of it is that no
human being would allow that book
on his table, no decently educated
English husband would allow even
his wife to have it....' Such was the
uncompromising pronouncement of
Sir Hardinge Gifford, Her Majesty's
Solicitor General, who in 1877
prosecuted Charles Bradlaugh and

Annie Besant for publishing Dr.
Charles Knowlton's Fruits of
"Knowlton's work, the first American
medical handbook on contraception,
had become an incredibly popular
book among Britons who believed
the Neo-Malthusian dictum that the
only solution to poverty in Britain
was a limit on the growth of its
population. Effective birth control
measures were to make such a limit
practicable. ...Knowlton's book was
published in nine editions and sold
forty thousand copies without
arousing governmental ire; but
suddenly, in 1877 its publisher was
haled into court and pleaded guilty to

Title page from Fruits of Philosophy
by Charles Knowlton, New York,

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Edison, Julian I. Miniature Book News #108: 2001 March, periodical, 2001; St. Louis, Missouri. ( accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library,; crediting UNT Libraries Rare Book and Texana Collections.