Category Archives: Readings

Book reviews.

A reading list on the 1960s London counterculture

I have come to be fascinated by the counterculture of the 1960s and early 1970s, mainly the scene in London, though I’d like to read more about idealistic, highly mobile youth culture in other parts of Western Europe as well. Here I want to share the resources I’ve discovered so far. I generally limit the list to books written by active participants in the counterculture, as opposed to histories compiled by younger generations of writers.

  • David Tomory, A Season in Heaven: True Tales from the Road to Kathmandu (Melbourne: Lonely Planet, 1998) ISBN 0864426291. A collection of oral histories of Western Europeans who travelled in the 1960s and early 1970s from Europe through Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan to the Indian Subcontinent, the so-called ‘hippie trail’.
  • Richard Neville, Playpower (London: Cape, 1970). Neville, one of the major figures in the London underground press, penned this chronicle of the social changes that he had witnessed while the era was still ongoing.
  • Richard Neville, Hippie Hippie Shake (London: Duckworth, 2nd ed. 2009) ISBN 0715637800. Written in the 1990s, Neville’s memoirs of his youth start with his student years in Australia and end with his 1971 prosecution for obscenity along with two other editors of the underground newspaper Oz.
  • Roger Hutchinson, High Sixties: The Summers of Riot & Love (Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992) ISBN 1851584374. The author, a student in the late Sixies and editor of underground publications in the early 1970s, has written a sweeping view of the decade based on memories of older acquaintances and archival material.
  • Nigel Fountain, Underground: The London Alternative Press, 1966–74 (Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1989) ISBN 0415007283. Fountain tracks the rise and fall of such countercultural periodicals as It, Oz, Black Dwarf, Friends/Frendz, Gandalf’s Garden, Ink, 7 Days, Suck and Time Out. Fountain has much to say about the development of feminism out of the rather sexist counterculture.
  • Jonathon Green, Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground, 1961–1971 (London: Pimlico, 1998) ISBN 0712666656. First published in 1988, Green carried out interviews with over 100 prominent figures in the Underground and assembled this massive oral history.
  • A Technicolor Dream (2008). This documentary film by Stephen Gammond is split between the counterculture and the early days of Pink Floyd, the “house band of the underground”. There are interviews with Barry Miles, John “Hoppy” Hopkins and others. The film goes no further than the end of 1967, by which time the counterculture had grown too commercial, according to some of the participants.