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Everyday Life

Everyday life in Britain

The period between the end of the Second World War and the end of the 1960s was a time of social revolution in Britain. The period of austerity after the end of the war, in which food, clothing, fuel and all manner of household essentials were rationed because of scarce supply and payment of war debts, was drawing to an end in the early 1950s. Wages rose, and the working population found that they had money to buy all sorts of luxury goods, domestic appliances and even cars, and Illingworth reflects this new found wealth and positive attitude in his cartoons of the period.

The social changes of the war led to more opportunites for women. Having worked on the home front, many liked their taste of working life, and it could not be automatically accepted that women would want to stay at home after the men returned from the Second World War. By 1961 one third of the working population were women, and laws relating to divorce and the advent of the contraceptive pill gave them freedoms unknown to their mothers.

Fashion also reflected this revolutionary change in society. While clothing was still rationed, in order to keep prices down, fashion was not able to flourish, but after the lifting of restrictions, new styles and colours could be seen everywhere. By the end of the 1960s, British society had changed completely from what it had been a mere 25 years before.

Family life

Cartoons showing the established domestic order, women doing housework, women dealing with new appliances, and women going out to work.

Rationing & shopping

Cartoons showing life after the end of the Second World War, food shortages and rationing. Women queue outside a shop, the celebrations at the end of rationing, the problems of buying clothes during the age of austerity, and anger at continuing shortages.

Consumer society

Cartoons referring to the wealth of society in general by the 1950s, and the fact that war was, by now between companies in order to win customers, rather than between countries.

Clothing & fashion

Cartoons showing the change from 'make do and mend' after the Second World War, to more interesting styles, as well as the high prices of clothes due to shortages of materials