Real and Imagined Readers looks at an important period in South African literary history, marked by apartheid censorship and the extensive banning of intellectual and creative voices. Returning to the archive, this book offers a reader-centric view of the successive censorship laws, and the consequences of publication control on the world of books. Books and print culture created intersectional spaces of solidarity where ideas and knowledge were contested, mediated and translated into the socio-political domain. By focusing on these marginalised readers, Matteau Matsha sheds light on the reading cultures and practices that developed in the shadow of apartheid censorship, creating alternative literary spaces. Real readers engaged in an elusive dialogue with the censors’ imagined readers, and definitions of literature and readerships emerged from this unusual connection, leading to the formation of literary conventions that inform reading politics to this day. By understanding reading as a complex and dynamic activity, this book stresses the importance of appreciating books in relation to the social context in which they are written and, most importantly, read.