An English Affair
Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo
Date of publication: January 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins
A sharp focus snapshot of Britain in the late 1950s and early 1960s, published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Profumo Affair. Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Profumo scandal, An English Affair is a sharp-focused snapshot of a nation on the brink of social revolution. Britain in the early 1960s was dominated by the legacy of two world wars.
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, the Edwardian stalwart, led a Conservative government dedicated to tradition, hierarchy and, above all, old-fashioned morality. But the tide was changing. A breakdown of social boundaries saw nightclub hostesses mixing with aristocrats, and middle-class professionals dabbling in criminality.
Meanwhile, Cold War paranoia gripped the public imagination. The Profumo Affair was a perfect storm, and when it broke it rocked the Establishment. In An English Affair, the masterly biographer Richard Davenport-Hines introduces us to the key players and brings seedily glamorous Swinging London to life.
The cast list includes familiar names such as louche society doctor Stephen Ward, good-time girls Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, and Secretary for War John Profumo himself. But here for the first time we also encounter the full complement of tabloid hacks, property developers and hangers-on whose roles have, until now, never been fully revealed. As the drama builds to its deadly climax, Davenport-Hines exposes the hypocrisy and prejudice of a country undergoing extraordinary change.
Sex, drugs, class, race, chequebook journalism and the criminal underworld - the Profumo Affair had it all. This is the story of how Sixties England cast off respectability and fell in love with scandal.