Published Jan 2013
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 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.