A Gallery to Play To: The Story of the Mersey Poets

By Phil Bowen | Go to book overview
Save to active project

1
The Fifties and the Beginning
of the Liverpool Scene

'We're all artists. It's a shilling!'

To understand the sixties is to understand the period that provoked them. As described in Ian MacDonald's account of the Beatles' music, Revolution in the Head, 'any domestic film of the fifties conveys the genteel, class-segregated staidness of British society at that time. The braying upper-class voices on newsreels, the tired nostalgia for the war, all of which conspired to breed unrest among the young.' John Lennon, in particular, loathed the decade's stiff and pompous soullessness, which may have been relatively comfortable for the generation that had endured the war, but was for the newly termed 'teenagers' a stifling time against which they reacted initially with rock'n'roll.

Fuelled by three closely connected events, there emerged in Britain between the years 1956 and 1958 a new and much-disputed 'angry generation'. On 8 May 1956 John Osborne's Look Back in Anger opened at the Royal Court in London. This was closely followed by the publication of Colin Wilson's The Outsider. A leader in The Times linked both with Kingsley Amis, whose Lucky Jim had created a new anti-hero described as a 'thoroughly cross young man'. Largely concerned with intellectual restrictions, the Angry Young Men came around the time of the Suez Crisis and went after Harold Macmillan's election triumph in 1959.

Less apparently significant was the opening of a club called The Cavern in Mathew Street in central Liverpool in 1957, only days after Anthony Eden resigned as Prime Minister in the wake of Suez, to be succeeded by the pragmatic Macmillan. Equally propitious was the 'Beat Generation' in America, whose heresy during the Eisenhower era, in a country of mounting racial tension, was a resonant foretaste of things to come. In September a state of emergency had arisen in Little Rock, Arkansas, when 200 of the National Guard's finest were ordered to prevent nine black children from entering a school. Two days later, Eisenhower had a stroke.

-5-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Gallery to Play To: The Story of the Mersey Poets
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 198

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?