Selina Todd

Tastes of Honey
  • Tastes of Honey

  • 'Anyone who values what is best in British theatre and film will want to join Selina Todd as she digs deep into the brilliance of Delaney’s work – and her character. It’s a riveting book' DAVID HARE

    The ground-breaking, firebrand playwright who changed our cultural and social landscape and put working-class lives centre stage.

    On 27 May 1958, A Taste of Honey opened in a small fringe theatre in London. Written by a nineteen-year-old bus driver’s daughter from Salford, the play would blow Britain open and expose a deeply polarised society. It would also make its young author a star.

    As Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was telling people they had ‘never had it so good’, A Taste of Honey illuminated the lives of the millions left to languish in Britain’s slums. Delaney’s strong female characters – teenager Jo and her single mother, Helen – asserted that working-class women wanted more than suburban housewifery. The play provoked a barrage of press and political criticism, but was embraced by those whose lives had now been placed centre stage.

    This is the story of how a working-class teenager stormed theatreland, and what happened next. Shelagh Delaney’s life and work reveal why women of her generation were provoked to challenge the world they’d grown up in. Exploding old certainties about class, sex and taste, Delaney blazed a new path – redefining what art could be and inspiring a new generation of writers, musicians and artists.

Selina Todd is Professor of Modern History at Oxford University. She grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and was educated at Heaton Manor Comprehensive School and the Universities of Warwick and Sussex. She writes about class, inequality, working-class history, feminism and women’s lives in modern Britain. Her book The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class 1910–2010 was a Sunday Times bestseller and was described by the Observer as ‘A book we badly need’. Based on the voices of working-class people themselves, it charted the history of ordinary workers, housewives, children and pensioners over the turbulent twentieth century. The history she writes is one of anger and defiance, but ultimately of hope for a better future – one that we can build by knowing more about our past.