Hidden in the ether

05 June 2014 | by D.J. Taylor

Most social historians would probably agree that one of the first large-scale British cultural revolutions of the twentieth century took place in the early 1920s. It was then, by degrees, and despite dire warnings from librarians and educators, that the great mass of the population transferred its allegiance from literature to cinema and radio. The generations of readers bred up by the Victorian educational reforms did not stop reading books, but by the era of Stanley Baldwin the idea of “family entertainment” had undergone a decisive shift. J.B. Priestley’s sprawling London novel Angel Pavement (1930) perfectly reflects this transformation in its account of the nightly recreations pursued by the desiccated clerk Mr Smeeth and his wife and children. Son and daughter vani

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