Calling out to 1960s men

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‘NO more lazy afternoons in the Union lounge, hoping that Pam will suddenly fall out of love with Martin and into love with me ... I must do things.

Love may have to wait, I guess, but I’ll be more ready for it if I’m backed by experience & struggle ... than if I’ve been a layabout.’ So began the diary of a 19-year old male undergraduate as he contemplated the start of the 1960s.

Many memoirs have been written of youthful hedonism in 1960s Britain. Stories of the Swinging Sixties’ tell of teenagers’ revolt into sex, drugs, the mini skirt, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. But little is understood about what it actually felt like to be an ordinary young man growing up in this extraordinary decade, trying to understand sixties girls and changing sexual codes, and how home and regionality shaped this experience.

I am assistant professor of Contemporary British History at the University of Copenhagen writing a new history exploring young men’s understandings and experiences of coming of age in post-1945 Britain. I am looking to conduct life history interviews with men who were born during or soon after the Second World War, who came from working or middle-class homes, and who attended university, art colleges, or any other form of professional education following secondary school.

I am also seeking any men, born in the same period, who kept diaries at any time between the ages of about 13 and 30 who would be willing for me to study these. The interviews and diaries will be used to tell stories of young men. To participate or find out more about this project, please email Dr Celia Hughes, CeliaPHughes@aol.com.

Dr Celia Hughes

University of Copenhagen