> Skip to content
  • Published: 28 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9780241975190
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 400

How Was It For You?

Women, Sex, Love and Power in the 1960s

The real story of women in the 1960s: Flower Power, the Pill, Miniskirts ... Tupperware and ideal homes

Turn the page back to the 1960s, a decade whose radiant light-show seemed to shower everything it touched with stardust: in the midst of Beatlemania, Penguin Books are found Not Guilty in the Lady Chatterley trial, Mary Quant introduces the mini-skirt, and the Pill becomes available on the NHS. Time magazine coins the phrase 'Swinging London', the first female High Court Judge is appointed and abortion is legalised.

But did the world really change for women? And what did the women of the '60s ultimately take away from a youth supposedly given over to sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll? This book is an act of homage and a journey for those engaging in similar questions today. How Was It For You? reconstructs the real 1960s, through the eyes of the women who lived it.

This is their story.

  • Published: 28 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9780241975190
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 400

About the author

Virginia Nicholson

Virginia Nicholson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. After studying at Cambridge University she lived in France and Italy and then worked as a documentary researcher for BBC Television. Her first book, Charleston - A Bloomsbury House and Garden (written in collaboration with her father, Quentin Bell), was an account of the Sussex home of her grandmother, the painter Vanessa Bell.
Books published by Penguin include Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 and Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived without Men After the First World War. She is married and has three children.

Also by Virginia Nicholson

See all

Praise for How Was It For You?

A tremendous achievement... a triumph of research and organisation - but also of sympathy

Observer on Millions Like Us

An important and humane book of female social history

The Times on Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes

A ground-breaking book, richly nuanced with titbits of information, insight and understanding

Daily Mail on Singled Out

How Was It For You? brings it all back. As always Virginia Nicholson's book is full of fascinating history and fascinating new material. It makes it feel like the Sixties have never been away, which they never have been, as far as I'm concerned. Wonderful

Hunter Davies

A hugely ambitious, kaleidoscope of a book, written in a sympathetic but also hard-headed tone that captures squalor and tragedy as well as glamour

Richard Vinen, author of The Long '68

Virginia Nicholson's social history of the lives of women during the 1960s is an absorbing study of an extraordinary age. Beautifully written and intensively researched, it covers a wide range of characters and many levels of society, uncovering with remarkable perspicacity a world of rebellion and change. I am sure How Was It for You? will remain a vital study for many years to come

Selina Hastings

Essential reading for all those who lived through it, and for those who came after

Marina Lewycka, author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

Every baby boomer should read this great and wonderfully revelatory book if only to shout, 'Ah yes, that's exactly what it was like for me!'

Anne Sebba, author of Les Parisiennes

Intimate, immersive, often moving, How Was It For You? subtly but powerfully subverts complacent male assumptions about a legendary decade

David Kynaston

Written with verve, wit and empathy, this account of the 1960s skilfully interweaves the lives of individual women with broader social and cultural changes. Virginia Nicholson nudges the reader to reconsider the well- beaten tracks and to reflect upon out-of-the-way experiences. Best of all How Was It For You? neither idealises nor excoriates the bouncy, controversial decade

Sheila Rowbotham

They say that if you remember the 1960s you weren't really there. But if you really weren't, then the next best thing is to read this fascinating book. With the meticulous attention worthy of a Vidal Sassoon haircut, Virginia Nicholson has shaped her dazzling kaleidoscope of facts, feelings and observations, into a razor-sharp account of the women who lived through that tumultuous decade

Juliet Nicolson

Virginia Nicholson is one of the great social historians of our time, and How Was It For You? is another jewel in her crown. No one else makes makes history this fun

Amanda Foreman

Virginia Nicholson is the outstanding recorder of British lives in the twentieth century. She has told us how it was for British women - and therefore of course for men and children - in the twentieth century. The formidable research and sympathetic understanding of so many different lives make this account of the 1960s - that swinging, sexy, revolutionary decade - the most vivid and moving of all her works. A fascinating decade, a fascinating book

Carmen Callil, author of Bad Faith

I loved this. Yes, the 1960s were good fun, sometimes. But Virginia Nicholson forensically unpicks what "promiscuity" really meant for flower-chicks, fearful of seeming un-cool. They were perpetuating a society as patriarchal and phallocentric as ever - even in the counter-culture. I was there, and she's right. Amazingly right about so many things. Roll on the 1970s when things did change - but that's for another of her excellent books

Valerie Grove, author of Laurie Lee

Sparklingly readable . . . Having read Nicholson's magisterial and sensuous overview of the decade, I feel I'm floating above the Sixties (a bit like Lucy in the Sky) and looking down on them with a new understanding

Ysenda Maxtone Graham, The Times

The stories are terrific

Rosie Boycott, Financial Times

Sparkling . . . there is a wonderfully diverse range of voices . . . we have a long way to go, but reading this book made me grateful for how far we have come

Daisy Goodwin, The Sunday Times

Clever . . . absorbing

Bell Mooney, Daily Mail

For those of us who missed the 60's, Virginia Nicholson catapults this era to roaring, authentic life. Rich with intimate voices and a keen edged analysis of the public perceptions at work, this book brilliantly evokes the struggle between the urgent change and the heavily freighted forces of tradition that defined this singularly compelling decade. Read it. It is unputdownable

Priya Parmar

This vivid comprehensive study brought so many memories flooding back to me! It's a treat for those of us who were around in the sixties, and delightfully instructive for those who weren't

Dame Jacqueline Wilson

Related titles