There is perhaps no branch of work amongst the arts so free at the present time as that of the writing of fiction. There are no official prohibitions, no embarrassing or hampering limitations, no oppressive restraints. Subject and method of treatment are both free. A writer is under no special obligation, no preliminary guarantee; he may choose his own subject and treat it in his own way. In fact, his duty to the public—to the State—appears to be nil. What one might call the cosmic police do not trouble him at all. Under these conditions, hitherto kept possible by the self-respect of authors, a branch of the art of authorship has arisen and gone on perfecting itself in mechanical excellence, until it has become an important factor of the life of the nation. Today if the supply of fiction were to be suddenly withdrawn the effect would be felt almost as much as the failure of the supply of breadstuffs.
~ From “The Censorship of Fiction” by Bram Stoker, born on this day in 1847