Curio Cabinet | June 02, 2021

The Great British Teddy Girls: Ken Russell’s Forgotten Photographs

When the Second World War ended in 1945 after six years of conflict, it quickly became evident that Britain had paid a high price for victory. The nation’s wealth was severely depleted. The German blitz had destroyed large swaths of English countryside and many cities were reduced to ash and rubble, resulting in a dire housing shortage and a reduction in the number of functioning factories and stores. Postwar London resembled the city of Charles Dickens’s novels, with overcrowding, rubbish-filled alleys, poor sanitation, and only intermittent running water and electricity. Social services struggled to serve the physically and mentally scarred people who grappled with loneliness, illness, and bereavement. It was also clear that the responsibilities of a large empire were handicapping the home economy. During the Age of Austerity, as it came to be known, meat and petrol were in short supply and sold at high prices, while basic household necessities such as milk, butter, and sugar, as well as clothing and shoes, were rationed. After almost ten years of impoverishment, austerity finally began to recede. Unemployment and the working and middle classes were able to participate in consumer culture for the first time in decades

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