ISBN 9781847945006,Classified



Harry Cocks


Random House Books



Random House Books

Publication Year 2009

ISBN 9781847945006

ISBN-10 1847945007

Hard Back

Number of Pages 240 Pages
Language (English)

Non Fiction

'Bohemian girl (London, S.W.) 24, in digs, interested most things, educated, lonely, desires man pal, London or abroad.'

On 1 September 1920 the Metropolitan police received a tip-off that a certain magazine, the Link, was running extremely dubious personal ads. An investigation and court case followed, and the editor of the Link, Alfred Barrett, found himself in the dock accused of promoting, among many other things, loose living, homosexuality, prostitution and white slavery. As he struggled to defend himself, the full weight of official disapproval and media outrage was brought to bear on him.

So begins Classified, a fascinating sideways look at the history of relationships - and attitudes to relationships - in twentieth-century Britain, explored through the medium of the personal ad. From First World War soldiers hoping for lady friends who would send them food packages, to lonely clerks and typists desperate for love in the cities of 1920s England, through to the swingers of the 1960s and 1970s and the internet junkies of today, it shows how the personal ad has mirrored and encouraged seismic shifts in society and popular attitudes to relationships. At the same time, it also unearths the stories of the heroes and villains of the personal ad - the former deb Heather Jenner who in 1939 set up a marriage bureau for Tatler-reading aristocrats, the shadowy Cyril Benbow whose cryptic 'Gentleman has books for sale' masked a burgeoning pornography empire, and the tragic figure of Irene Wilkins, strangled and bludgeoned to death in Bournemouth in 1921 by a man who scoured the personal ads in his search for victims. Together the tales of such individuals reveal the many-faceted nature of love and desire in the Britain of the past hundred years.

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