View Full Version : Books on UK life in late 50s...

26-08-2005, 04:48 PM
Hi! I am currently researching the late 50s-early 60s in the UK and wondered if there were any books out there besides the one I'm currently reading - Never Had It So Good by Dominic Sandbrook. I am looking for something else like it, that will give me a good idea of what it was like overall, though my particular interest is in pop culture and politics. Non-fiction is best, though if there's any fiction that's welcome too. Thanks!

12-11-2005, 05:07 PM
Anyone, anyone, Bueller, anyone?

line by line
24-11-2005, 05:55 PM
"British Society Since 1945: The Penguin Social History of Britain" is the standard undergraduate text and is good for the basics.

"The uses of Literacy" by Richard Hoggart might seem quite dated to the modern reader, but not only was it the first academic text to address working class culture in the 50's, it also did so with an authentically 50's mindset and as such is quite facinating.

In fiction, Colin MacInness (Absolute Beginners, City of Spades and Mr Love and Mr Justice), Kingsley Amis (Lucky Jim), John Osbourne (Look back in Anger), Alan Sillitoe (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner) and Colin Wilson (The Outsider) are all of interest albeit of varying literary merit. Iris Murdoch and Angus Wilson were both terribly popular in the 50's and far less so today ie dated but with the whiff of authenticity.

This looks like a list from my dead fathers bookshelf...

25-12-2005, 07:42 PM
Thanks so much! I've read some Murdoch but none of the others, and the non-fic titles look good too. One book that is very very specific about this time and how the 50s/60s altered is The Trial of Lady Chatterley, particularly since it went all the way to the Old Bailey and Lawrence was presumably the hero of all these writers...

01-01-2006, 09:21 AM
More early sixties than late fifties, but Generation X by ? (can't remember and can't find my copy) a series of interviews with teens and twenties in '63 is great and - possibly even harder to find - Personal Copy by Ray Gosling, an autobiog. about being young and hip in the East Midlands in the period in question is worth searching out

01-01-2006, 05:54 PM
My bro gave me Nick Cohn's "Wopbopaloobppawopbamboom" (s.p?) for Christmas.

By no means exclusively your subject, but will provide you with some priceless pop-cultural context

01-01-2006, 06:00 PM
Howard Jacobson's "The mighty walzer" is an excellent account of the cut and thrust of the jewish teenage table-tennis scene in early 60's Manchester. It sports a character with the wonderful name of Sheeny Waxman.

01-01-2006, 06:01 PM
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/George-Melly-Revolt-Into-Style_W0QQitemZ8368744740QQcategoryZ23923QQrdZ1QQc mdZViewItem

try this > george melly revolt into style

01-01-2006, 07:44 PM
He teaches in Calgary, but you might know of Maurice Yacowar anyway.

We shared house in Somerset, UK for a while last summer whilst he researched for a biogrpaphy of John Bratby, the kitchen sink painter.

He could be a very interseting person for you to talk to.

john eden
03-01-2006, 12:19 PM
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/George-Melly-Revolt-Into-Style_W0QQitemZ8368744740QQcategoryZ23923QQrdZ1QQc mdZViewItem

try this > george melly revolt into style

Yeah I was going to recommend that one. I think his autobiography "Owning up" is worth checking out as well, but start with "revolt".

There is some stuff in the John Savage punk book about 50s Stamford Hill and teddy boys etc iirc. (Christ, I can't remember ANY books I have ever read!)

04-01-2006, 09:24 AM
Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners is fiction about the Afro-Caribbean community in late-1950s London.

05-01-2006, 07:24 PM
Colin Macinnes novels, Absolute Beginners etc are worth checking out and also Jonathan Green's oral history of the Sixties, Days In The Life, actually starts in the 50s so gives a very good sense of the period.

The Generation X book mentioned earlier is by Charles Hamblett and Jane Deverson. Long out of print, but it turns up regularly (I got mine in an Oxfam).