Britain’s First Youthquake

Teenagers were agents of change in 1960s Britain, but the birth of youth movements such as the Mods was heavily indebted to the multicultural society from which they grew.

Skinheads, Piccadilly Circus, 1969.

Published in May 1959, Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners was the first novel to capture the new youth culture of coffee bars, jazz clubs and record shops centred in and around London’s Soho. Set in the previous year, MacInnes’ fast-paced prose conveyed the restless energy of this postwar ‘youthquake’, which divided society into teenagers on one side – the absolute beginners – and, on the other, the outdated adult world of ‘squares’.

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