Work of the Fellows: Monographs

Capital Affairs: London and the Making of the Permissive Society

By Frank Mort (NHC Fellow, 2001–02)

New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010

From the publisher’s description:

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.

History / Gender and Sexuality / Cultural Studies / Sexuality / Politics / Morality / British History /

Mort, Frank (NHC Fellow, 2001–02). Capital Affairs: London and the Making of the Permissive Society. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.