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The Edinburgh FestivalsCulture and Society in Post-war Britain$
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Angela Bartie

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748670307

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748670307.001.0001

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Convergence of Cultures: New Developments in the Arts, 1956–1962

Convergence of Cultures: New Developments in the Arts, 1956–1962

(p.78) 4 Convergence of Cultures: New Developments in the Arts, 1956–1962
The Edinburgh Festivals

Angela Bartie

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores a transitional period during which evidence of an awakening ‘cultural revolution’ began to emerge, and one in which churches across Britain experienced a staggering decline in membership. It seeks to understand this by considering the reaction of the Church of Scotland to its declining status and the role of cultural change in the growing challenges to traditional Christian morality. Innovations initiated in Edinburgh that were to have a far-reaching impact are explored, including Beyond the Fringe, which arguably ignited a satire boom, and The Paperback Bookshop, Britain’s first paperback-only bookshop and unique arts centre. Its founder and proprietor, Jim Haynes, teamed up with avant-garde publisher John Calder and writer Sonia Orwell (widow of George Orwell) to organise a large-scale writer’s conference in 1962. This was a controversial event which exposed (and provoked) debates over issues like sexuality (particularly homosexuality), drug-taking and new techniques in writing – most notably introducing William Burroughs and his ‘fold-in’ technique of writing to the wider British public.

Keywords:   cultural revolution, Beyond the Fringe, sexuality, homosexuality, International Writers’ Conference, morality, Church of Scotland, religion, satire

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