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David Kynaston was born in Aldershot in 1951. He has been a professional historian since 1973 and has written fifteen books, including The City of London, a widely acclaimed four-volume history, and W.G.’s Birthday Party, an account of the Gentleman vs. the Players at Lord’s in July 1898. He is currently a visiting professor at Kingston University.
Austerity Britain, the first in David Kynaston’s four-part history of Britain from 1945-1979, was published by Bloomsbury to absolutely unprecedented acclaim on 7th May 2007. Family Britain, published by Bloomsbury in November 2009 and in paperback in May 2010, offers an unrivalled take on a largely cohesive, ordered, still very hierarchical society gratefully starting to move away from the painful hardships of the 1940s towards domestic ease and affluence.
David Kynaston's history of post-war Britain has so far taken us from the radically reforming Labour governments of the late 1940s in Austerity Britain, through the growing prosperity of Family Britain's more placid 1950s, to the very cusp of the 1960s and the coming of a new Zeitgeist in Modernity Britain. The first part, Opening the Box, 1957-59, plotted the main themes of the new spirit of the age. Now, in part two - A Shake of the Dice, 1959-62 - through a rich haul of diaries, letters, newspapers and many other sources, Kynaston gets up close to a turbulent era as the speed of social change accelerated. By 1959 consumerism was inexorably taking hold (stripes for Signal toothpaste, flavours for potato crisps), relative economic decline was becoming the staple of political discourse (entry into Europe increasingly seen as our salvation), immigration was turning into an ever-hotter issue (the controversial coming of controls), traditional norms of morality were perceived as under serious threat (Lady Chatterley's Lover freely on sale after the famous case), and traditional working-class culture was changing (wakes weeks in decline, the end of the maximum wage for footballers) even as Coronation Street established itself as a national institution. The greatest shake of the dice, though, concerned urban redevelopment: city centres were being yanked into the age of the motor car, slum clearance was intensified, and the skyline became studded with brutalist high-rise boxes. Some of this transformation was necessary, but too much would destroy communities and leave a harsh, fateful legacy. This profoundly important story of the period of transformation from the old to the brink of a new world is now told brilliantly and in full for the first time.
As in Austerity Britain, an astonishing array of vivid, intimate and unselfconscious voices drive this narrative. The keen-eyed Nella Last shops assiduously at Barrow Market as austerity and rationing gradually give way to relative abundance; housewife Judy Haines, relishing the detail of suburban life, brings up her children in Chingford; and, the self-absorbed civil servant Henry St John perfects the art of grumbling. These and many other voices give a rich, unsentimental picture of everyday life in the 1950s. We also encounter well-known figures on the way, such as Doris Lessing (joining and later leaving the Communist Party), John Arlott (sticking up on Any Questions? for the rights of homosexuals) and Tiger's Roy of the Rovers (making his goal-scoring debut for Melchester). All this is part of a colourful, unfolding tapestry, in which the great national events - the Tories returning to power, the death of George VI, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth, the Suez Crisis - jostle alongside everything that gave Britain in the 1950s its distinctive flavour: Butlin's holiday camps, Kenwood food mixers, Hancock's Half-Hour , Ekco television sets, Davy Crockett, skiffle and teddy boys. Deeply researched, David Kynaston's Family Britain offers an unrivalled take on a largely cohesive, ordered, still very hierarchical society gratefully starting to move away from the painful hardships of the 1940s towards domestic ease and affluence.
The 'real' Sixties began on 5 October 1962. On that remarkable Friday, the Beatles hit the world with their first single, 'Love Me Do', and the first James Bond film, Dr No, had its world premiere in London: two icons of the future heralding a social and cultural revolution. On the Cusp, continuing David Kynaston's groundbreaking history of post-war Britain 'Tales of a New Jerusalem', is about Britain during the summer and early autumn of 1962, in the charged months leading up to that plates-shifting moment. The Rolling Stones making their live debut at the Marquee Club, the last Gentlemen versus Players match at Lord's, the issue of Britain's relationship with Europe starting to divide the country, Telstar the satellite beaming live TV pictures across the world, 'Telstar' the record an instant icon of romantic modernity - these were months thick with incident, all woven together with an array of fresh contemporary sources, including diarists both famous and obscure. Britain would never be quite the same again after these months. Sometimes indignant, sometimes admiring, always understanding, On the Cusp summons up a vanished world - of The Black and White Minstrel Show, of family holidays in Blackpool, of seemingly settled social and economic certainties - on the edge of fundamental change.
'I loved every page, and ended up admiring David Kynaston, our greatest social historian, even more than I already did' Nick Hornby Brimming with wisdom and humour, David Kynaston's diaries written over one football season offer up his most personal take on social history to date. David Kynaston was seven and a half years old when he attended his first Aldershot match in the early months of 1959. So began a deep attachment to the game and a lifelong loyalty to an obscure, small-town football club. Though as he sits down to write his diaries almost sixty years on, he reflects that life might have been simpler if his father had never taken him to that first match at the Rec... Shots in the Dark is the diary David Kynaston kept in the football season of 2016/17, detailing the ups and downs of the 'Shots' in the year that saw a divisive referendum in the UK and the impending ascension of Donald Trump. Here Kynaston presents a social history of modern Britain with a difference - all through the prism of the beautiful game. A testament to the ways in which fandom gives solidity and security to our lives, particularly in these bewildering and rapidly changing times, Shots in the Dark gets to the heart of what it means to be a devoted follower of a sports team. This is a diary of the macro and the micro, as questions of loyalty, of identity, of liberalism and of nationalism all rub uncomfortably up against each other during nine charged months.
First published in 1976. This book covers working-class history from the decline of Chartism to the formation of the Labour Party and its early development to 1914. It gives a historical perspective to the essentially defensive, materialist orientation of twentieth century working-class politics. David Kynaston has sought to synthesise the wealth of recent detailed research to produce a coherent overall view of the particular dynamic of these formative years. He sees the course of working-class history in the second half of the nineteenth century as a necessary tragedy and suggests that a major reason for this was the inability of William Morris as a revolutionary socialist to influence organised labour. The treatment is thematic as much as chronological and special attention is given not only to the parliamentary rise of Labour, but also to deeper-lying intellectual, occupational, residential, religious, and cultural influences. The text itself includes a substantial amount of contemporary material in order to reflect the distinctive 'feel' of the period. The book is particularly designed for students studying the political, social and economic background to modern Britain as well as those specialising in nineteenth-century English history.
'An exemplary narrative history, with the archives plundered judiciously ... [Kynaston's] portrait of a globally influential institution is, in characteristic style, rendered on an entertainingly human scale' The Times 'Not an ordinary bank, but a great engine of state,' Adam Smith declared of the Bank of England in 1776, which for over 320 years has been central to British history. Yet to most people, despite its increasingly high profile, its history is largely unknown. Till Time's Last Sand is the first authoritative and accessible single-volume history of the Bank of England, from the Bank's founding in 1694 to Mark Carney's appointment as Governor in 2013. This history addresses the important debates about the Bank's purpose and modes of operation. Yet this is also a narrative that does full justice to the leading episodes and characters of the Bank, while taking care to evoke a real sense of the place itself, with its often distinctively domestic side. Deploying an array of piquant and revealing material from the Bank's rich archives, this is a multi-layered and insightful portrait of one of our most important national institutions, from one of our leading historians.
David Kynaston's history of post-war Britain has so far taken us from the radically reforming Labour governments of the late 1940s in Austerity Britain and through the growing prosperity of Family Britain's more placid 1950s. Now Modernity Britain 1957-62 sees the coming of a new Zeitgeist as Kynaston gets up close to a turbulent era in which the speed of social change accelerated. The late 1950s to early 1960s was an action-packed, often dramatic time in which the contours of modern Britain began to take shape. These were the 'never had it so good' years, when the Carry On film series got going, and films like Room at the Top and the first soaps like Coronation Street and Z Cars brought the working class to the centre of the national frame; when CND galvanised the progressive middle class; when 'youth' emerged as a cultural force; when the Notting Hill riots made race and immigration an inescapable reality; and when 'meritocracy' became the buzz word of the day. In this period, the traditional norms of morality were perceived as under serious threat (Lady Chatterley's Lover freely on sale after the famous case), and traditional working-class culture was changing (wakes weeks in decline, the end of the maximum wage for footballers). The greatest change, though, concerned urban redevelopment: city centres were being yanked into the age of the motor car, slum clearance was intensified, and the skyline became studded with brutalist high-rise blocks. Some of this transformation was necessary, but too much would destroy communities and leave a harsh, fateful legacy. This profoundly important story of the transformation of Britain as it arrived at the brink of a new world is brilliantly told through diaries, letters newspapers and a rich haul of other sources and published in one magnificent paperback volume for the first time.
David Kynaston's ground-breaking history of the City of London, published in four volumes between 1994 and 2001, is a modern classic. Skilfully edited into a single volume by David Milner, it tells a story as dramatic as any novel, while explaining the mysteries of the financial world in a way that we can all understand. This is a story of booms, busts and bankruptcies, dress codes, eating habits, pay, humour, changing architecture and the unique culture of the Square Mile which brings us up to the modern age.
On a hot morning in July 1898, the sporting world gathered at Lord's to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of WG Grace, the greatest cricketer the game has ever seen. Grace was cheered onto the field by a packed crowd as he captained the Gentlemen, the privileged old guard of the Establishment. Their opponents in this annual match were the Players, cricketers for whom the sport was a precarious livelihood rather than a summer pastime. This three-day encounter represented the climax of cricket's Golden Age, and the unstoppable arrival of the professional game that would dominate the twentieth century. In WG's Birthday Party, David Kynaston tells the story of one of the most thrilling matches in cricketing history, as well as the colourful and sometimes tragically moving lives of the members of both teams. Using the Gentlemen vs Players contest as a lens through which to examine the hierarchy and tensions endemic in cricket at the beginning of the modern era, he presents a lively, moving, richly detailed and massively entertaining portrait of late-Victorian society. It is social history at its most compelling, from 'the most entertaining historian alive' (Spectator).
For the first time, the Sunday Times bestseller Austerity Britain is available in one complete paperback volume. Coursing through Austerity Britain is an astonishing variety of voices - vivid, unselfconscious, and unaware of what the future holds. A Chingford housewife endures the tribulations of rationing; a retired schoolteacher observes during a royal visit how well-fed the Queen looks; a pernickety civil servant in Bristol is oblivious to anyone's troubles but his own. An array of working-class witnesses describe how life in post-war Britain is, with little regard for liberal niceties or the feelings of their 'betters'. Many of these voices will stay with the reader in future volumes, jostling alongside well-known figures like John Arlott (here making his first radio broadcast, still in police uniform), Glenda Jackson (taking the 11+) and Doris Lessing, newly arrived from Africa, struck by the levelling poverty of postwar Britain. David Kynaston weaves a sophisticated narrative of how the victorious 1945 Labour government shaped the political, economic and social landscape for the next three decades.Deeply researched, often amusing and always intensely entertaining and readable, the first volume of David Kynaston's ambitious history offers an entirely fresh perspective on Britain during those six momentous years.
Illusions of Gold, the third volume of David Kynaston's magnificent quartet, The City of London, sweeps us from 1914 to 1945, through years of fluctuating fortunes that began with the City at an all-time high, and ended with the 'Square Mile' ravaged by bombs, at its lowest ebb ever. With unerring judgement and story-telling verve, Kynaston takes us through the City's vain attempt to recover the glory days before the First World War, in the return to the Gold Standard. He follows its tussles with government over control of monetary policy, investigates its increasingly important links with British industry and gives a pioneering account of its controversial role in the politics of appeasement. Kynaston's great strength is his combination of vivid narrative with meticulous scholarship, based on an unparalleled variety of unpublished sources. The City of London is now hailed as one of the most ambitious and rewarding historical projects of recent times.
Between 1890 and 1914 the City of London was all dominant as Britain's legendary gold standard reigned supreme across the globe. Golden Years anatomises an elite at the height of its powers. Combining brilliant scholarship with high entertainment, and drawing on an unparalleled range of original sources, David Kynaston brings the city triumphant into the mainstream of British and world history.
A World of Its Own tells the story of the City of London's nineteenth century ascent to its position as the world's leading international financial centre. We witness the rise of the merchant banks, the growth of the Stock Exchange, the internationalism of the money market, and the characters behind these developments, like the mercurial Nathan Rothschild or the dour Joshua Bates. High history is interwoven with high drama: the burning of the Royal Exchange on a snowy night in 1838, the hectic making of fortunes from South American guano; the Baring crisis of 1890, when the city's most respected house was rescued by its keenest rival. A World of Its Own is at once a powerful narrative, peopled with extraordinary characters, and a brilliant work of social and economic history.