By Richard Davenport-Hines
Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Profumo scandal, An English Affair is a sharp-focused picture of a kingdom near to social revolution. Britain in 1963 – Harold Macmillan was once the leading Minister of a Conservative executive, devoted to culture, hierarchy and, especially, out of date morality. yet a breakdown of social obstacles observed nightclub hostesses blending with aristocrats, and middle-class pros dabbling in illegal activity. in the meantime, chilly battle paranoia gripped the general public mind's eye. The Profumo Affair was once an ideal hurricane, and whilst it broke it rocked the institution. In 'An English Affair', the writer of the critically-acclaimed 'Titainic Lives' Richard Davenport-Hines brings Swinging London to lifestyles. the forged of gamers comprises the standard – louche physician Stephen Ward, good-time ladies Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, and Secretary for warfare John Profumo himself. yet we additionally stumble upon the tabloid hacks, estate builders and hangers-on whose roles have, beforehand, by no means been absolutely published. intercourse, medicines, category, race, chequebook journalism and the felony underworld – the Profumo Affair had all of it. this is often the tale of ways Sixties England put off respectability and fell in love with scandal.
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Extra resources for An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo
Goethe always carried violet seeds on his country walks and scattered them. The violet held a secret. Along the hedgerow that ran down to the cliffs at Hordle deep purple violets grew — perhaps no more than a dozen plants. I stumbled across them late one sunny March afternoon as I came up the cliff path from the sea. They were hidden in a small recess. I stood for some moments dazzled by them. Day after day I returned from the dull regimental existence of an English 37 MODERN NATURE boarding school to my secret garden - the first of many that blossomed in my dreams.
It wakes me through the bedroom window and then stays with me all day. There are no trees or hills to hide it. When it sets over the flatlands in the west I sit and watch it on a throne-like chair that I rescued from a rubbish dump. I never miss the setting sun, however cold the weather. Tonight it hangs huge and scarlet after a day of dark clouds. It appears for a few brief minutes, a perfect circle before disappearing - then the darkness comes rushing across the sky to embrace the inky timbers of Prospect Cottage; but before the light is extinguished the house reflects gold, or, as this evening, blazes ruby, its panes of glass a dazzling scarlet.
On it is a reading lamp of tarnished copper, two pewter mugs full of stamps, loose change, paperclips, several bottles of ink, and pens, envelopes, scraps of paper on which to make notes for this diary, an iron spittoon used as an ashtray; in the centre a lead tobacco box in the shape of a little Victorian cottage, in which I keep my chequebook and money. To the left and right against the wall are two Red Cross medicine chests 32 MARCH from an army surplus store; here I keep my clothes. A large oak chest dominates the room: it has 15th century panels carved with decorative ogee arches, perhaps once part of a rood screen.