The Contemporary Period: 1939 to today

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In History
  • The Second World War

    In September 1939 Germany in vaded Poland, and
    Britain entered the war. The British felt again that
    they were fighting for the weaker nations of Europe,
    and for democracy.
  • Period: to

    The Contemporary Period

  • Japan and Germany's ally artacks British colonial possessions

    Japan and Germany's ally artacked British colonial
    possessions, including Malaya (Malaysia) , Burma
    and India
  • Germany attacks the Soviet Union and Japan attacks the Unired State

    Germany and Japan had made two mistakes which undoubtedly cost them the war. Whatever the advantages of surprise attack, the Axis of Germany, Italy and Japan had now forced onto the battlefield two of the most powerful nations in the world
  • Thomas Stearns Eliot

    His poems were the most important of the Second World War. ´Four Quartets´ were completed with ´East Coker´, ´The Dry Salvages´ and ´Little Gidding´ between 1940 and 1942.
  • Free secondary education

    The government promised free secondary education for all, and promised to provide more further and higher education
  • End of the Second World War

    Germany finally surrendered. In order to save further casualties among their own troops, Britain and the United States then used the ir bombing power to defeat Japan. This time they used the new atomic bombs to destroy most of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, two large Japanese cities.
  • The United Nations

    At the end of the war th e victorious Allies created the United Nations, which expressed the ideas of the Atlantic Charter. The Allies formed themselves into a "Security Council", into which they invited some less powerful nations.
  • Dylan Thomas

    He was in many ways the most important new voice of the 1940s. Thomas wrote several plays, one of them ´Deaths and Entrances´
  • National Health Service

    Labour government brought in a new National Health Service, which gave everyone the right to free medical treatment
  • Independence of India

    In 1947 the British finally left India, which then divided into a Hindu stare and a smaller Muslim state called Pakistan .
  • The loss of empire

    This was partly because of the rapid growth of local independence movements, but also because of a change in thinking in Britain itself. the ending of Britain's empire was a highly successful process, carried out in spite of some who opposed surrendering power, however costly this might be.
  • The National Assistance Act

    The National Assistance Act provided financial help for the old, the unemployed and those unable to work through sickness.
    Mothers and children also received help.
  • Death of King George VI

  • Coronation of Elizabeth II

  • Death of Queen Mary

  • Kingsley Amis

    She wrote ´Lucky Jim´, the most successful comic novel of the fifties.
  • Elizabeth Jennings

    In ´A Way of Looking´ she showed a new way of writing with a clear description.
  • Absurd Drama

    Absurd drama began in France in the 1940s and reached Britain with ´Waiting for Godot´ by Samuel Beckett.
  • Anthony Burgess

    The colonial setting for the novel appears again in the 1950s in ´The Malayan Trilogy´
  • Social Drama

    The new social drama of the 1950s brought into drama the young generation after the war. The most famous play of the time was ´Look Back in Anger´ by John Osborne, staged at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
  • The first nuclear energy power station

    Britain's leadership in nuclear power resulted in the development of nuclear weapons and of the first nuclear energy power st tion in the world
  • Suez Canal

    Until 1956 Britain had controlled the Suez Canal, but in that year Egypt decided to take it over. Britain, together with France and Israel, attacked Egypt.
  • Angus Wilson

    He is in some ways the most traditional of the new writers. His novels are full of ironic observation. ´The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot´ is one of his best-known works.
  • Graham Greence

    He wrote some of his most important novels in the 1940s. His style is simple and symbolic. In 1960 he wrote ´A Burnt-out Case´ which many people consider his best novel.
  • Edna O´Brien

    She is perhaps the best-known woman writer from Ireland. She wrote ´The Country Girls´ tilgory.
  • The Liverpool Group

    At the time of the success of the popular group ´The Beatles´ in the 1960s, the Liverpool Group of poets became famous.
    The poet most commonly associated with this label is Roger McGough.
  • Youthful Britain

    People had free time to enjoy themselves. At weekends many watched football matches in large new stadiums. In the evenings they could go the to cinema. They began to go away for holidays to low-cost "holiday camps". Young people had more money in their pockets than ever before, now that wages for those just starting work had improved. The result was that the young began to influence fashion, particularly in clothing and music. Divorce became much easier
  • John Betjeman

    He became Poet Laureate and was a very popular figure. His ´Collected Poems´ was a best-seller.
  • Political Drama

    Political drama has not usually been popular in Britain, but the plays like Edward Bond´s ´Saved´ in the 1960s and 1970s brought a new political tone into the theatre.
  • Tom Stoppard

    He wrote ´Rosencraniz and Guildenstern Are Dead´ became a great success. Stoppard´s kind of intelligent comedy uses theatre in new ways: it is theatre of ideas in comic style.
  • Samuel Beckett

    Samuel Beckett won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • Minimalist Drama

    Beckettian minimalism has come to be seen as one of the strongest symbols of modern life.
  • Nationalist Rebellion

    Ulster people , both Catholics and Protestants, began to gather on the streets and demand a fairer system. The police could not keep
    control, and republicans who wanted to unite Ireland turned this civil rights movement into a nationalist rebellion against British rule
  • The novel in the 1970s

    The novel took several directions. The four main directions were: the focus on foreing and local, regional voices; more female voices; the academic or campus novel; and the coming of the king of fantasy known as magic realism.
    Novelists born outside Britain, or foreign origins, have brought a new range of experience into the modern novel.
  • The European Community

    After several attempts, Britain joins the European Community in 1973
  • Scotland

    The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) showed its growing popularity by increasing its percentage of the national vote from 20 percent to 30 percent during 1974. The SNP became the second party in Scotland, pushing the Conservatives into third place. When Scotland was offered the same limited form of self-government as Wales, just over half of those who voted supported it. As a result the SNP itself collapsed at the next election, losing nine of its eleven seats.
  • The academic novel

    The academic novel, or campus novel, became popular among readers who had been to university, and could recognize many of the issues discussed. ´The History Man´ by Malcolm Bradbury was a great success.
  • Andrew Motion

    He is one of the most important of the yunger generation of poets. His first volume was ´The Pleasure Steamers´
  • Wales

    In Wales, a nationalist party, Plaid Cyrnru, the party of "fellow
    countrymen", became a strong political force in the 1970s. But Welsh nationalism lost support in 1979 when the people of Wales turned down the government's offer of limited self-government.
  • Britain's first woman Prime Minister.

    Margaret Thatcher had been elected in 1979 because she promised a new beginning for Britain.
  • Social Democratic Party

    The party was formed in alliance with the small Liberal Party.
  • Falklands

    Britain went to war to take back the Falklands after an Argentinian invasion. In spite of the great distance involved, British forces were able to carry out a rapid recapture of the islands. The operation was very popular in Britain
  • William Golding

    William Golding won the Nobel Prize for Literature and was one of the great story-tellers of his time, always exploring in his novels the things which form human behaviour.
  • Angela Carter

    Another kind of magic is found in her novels ´Nights at the Circus´ (1984) and ´Wise Children´ (1991). Magic realism novels as they move beyond the usual limits of the novel and the story, bringing in a new range of experiences.
  • Women´s movement

    They spoke out increasingly against sexism, in advertising, in employment and in journalism. They protested about violence against women and demanded more severe punishment for sexual crimes. They also tried win the same pay and to work opportunities as men. This new movement resulted from the growth in the number of working women
  • Inflation

    Between 1754 and 1954, prices had multiplied by six. Then, they multiplied by six again in the space of only thirty years between 1954 and 1984. In such circumstances it proved almost impossible to make sure that all workers felt that they were fairly paid.
  • Great Britain and Ireland agreement

    In 1985 Britain and Ireland made a formal agreement at Hillsborough that they would exchange views on Northern Ireland regularly. This
    agreement was bitterly opposed by Protestant political leaders in the province.
  • Mass immigration

    In the fifties, the first black immigrants started to arrive
    from the West Indies, looking for work. Later, Asian immigrants started to arrive from India and Pakistan and from East Africa. By 1985 there were about five millon recent inmigrants and their children out of a total population of about fifty-six million. The relationship between black immigrants and the white population of Britain was not easy.
  • Two Nations

    The most serious accusation against the Thatcher government by the middle of the 1980s was that it had created a more unequal society, a society of "two nations", one wealthy, and the other poor.
  • National industries

    By 1983, for the first time since the industrial revolution, Britain had become a net importer of manufactured goods. However , Thatcher could claim she had begun to return nationalised industries to the private sector. By 1987 telecommunications, gas, British Airways, British Aerospace and British Shipbuilders had all been put into private ownership.
  • Caryl Churchill

    Churchill is the best-known woman dramatist of the 1980s and 1990s. Her ´The Skriker´ is one of her best-known works