Beyond the Book: Background information when reading On Chesil Beach

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On Chesil Beach

A Novel

by Ian McEwan

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2007, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2008, 224 pages

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Selected Events from the early 1960s (from a British perspective)

1960:
Penguin Books put on trial under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover (30 years after it had first been published in Italy). They are found not guilty and the prosecution is widely ridiculed as being out of touch with changing social norms when the chief prosecutor asks if it were the kind of book "you would wish your wife or servants to read".

"The Pill" becomes the first FDA approved drug to be given to a healthy person for long-term use.

British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan delivers his Wind of Change speech indicating that the British Government intends to grant independence to many territories.

1961: Russia wins the space race; the Berlin Wall goes up and the pill arrives in Britain.

1962: Cliff Richard, Britain's answer to Elvis Presley, tops the charts; Bond takes on Dr No; 50,000 British women on the pill.

1963: Beatlemania.

1964: Topless swimsuits modeled and the no-bra bra frees women from padding and boning.

1965: Churchill dies, Vietnam explodes. The Who and Rolling Stones top the charts.

1966: Skirts shrink and the game Twister becomes all the rage.

1967: Flower Power.

1968: Movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

1969: Men on the moon and Concorde takes off. One million women on the pill in Britain, more than 12 million worldwide.

This article was originally published in July 2007, and has been updated for the June 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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