Capital Affairs London and the Making of the Permissive Society Frank Mort

Publication date:
30 Jun 2010
Yale University Press
528 pages: 235 x 156mm
34 b-w + 8 color illus.
Sales territories:

An arresting history of sex and politics in London during the 1950s and ’60s that charts the course of modern British society and the birth of the so-called permissive society

A series of spectacular scandals profoundly disturbed London life during the 1950s in ways that had major national consequences. High and low society collided in a city of social and sexual extremes. Patrician men-about-town, young independent women, go-ahead entrepreneurs, Westminster politicians, queer men, and West Indian newcomers played a conspicuous part in dramatic encounters that signaled a new phase of post-Victorian sexual morality.

These dramas of pleasure and danger occurred not only in the glamorous and shady entertainment spaces of the West End but also in Whitehall, as well as the twilight zones of the inner city. Frank Mort uncovers the ways in which they transformed national culture. Soho and Notting Hill became beacons for anxieties over the changing character of sex in the city and the cultural impact of decolonization. The “old” European migrants and the “new” Caribbean presence were significant factors in the readjustment of urban sexual mores. Mort’s arresting history of sex and politics in London illustrates a key moment in the making of modern British society.

Frank Mort is Professor of Cultural Histories, University of Manchester. His books include Cultures of Consumption: Masculinities and Social Space in Late Twentieth-Century Britain.

"Mort’s attention to detail and storytelling skills makes this a compelling and brilliant cultural and sexual history."—Julie Anne Taddeo, Journal of British Studies