Richard Graves, founder of The Swinging 60s site and author of 'Nicky Samuel – My Life and Loves'.

A businessman has written about The Sixties to highlight the change and activism which took place during the era.

Richard Graves, who is the author of more than 20 published works, has created a website called The Swinging 60s to mark the people and events of the time.

Richard, who is financial director of the digital marketing agency GWS Media in Bristol, which specialises in multilingual sites, said it was an interesting era.

He said: “It was a time of great change and it felt as if anything was possible. The old society was swept away and liberation rushed in.”


It was a colourful decade, which saw a push for equal rights and the beginnings of the peace movement.

From civil rights to gay liberation to calls to the ‘second wave’ of feminism – the establishment of the day was firmly challenged.

And free love, rock n roll and the mini skirt rocked respectability of bygone eras.

Slow coming change

But Richard, who was studying at the University of Oxford at the time, believes “The Sixties’” did actually not begin for most people outside London until 1968.

Richard, who read modern history at St John’s and stayed on for a year to read for a diploma in education, added that not all change was positive. Change had its downsides too.

“Sometimes the very thing which brought positive change had a negative and perhaps unexpected effect as well.”

Richard taught at Arnold Lodge Preparatory School, Harrow School, Holme Grange School and Ellesmere College.

He became a full-time writer in 1973 and for the next 27 years he authored or co-authored biographies and computer guides. He joined GWS in 20000, originally as marketing director.

Free love

Sexual revolution is synonymous with the sixties. But it was Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president in the US, who advocated for people to have the right to love whom they pleased back in the 1870s.

The Sixties and introduction of the contraceptive pill may have helped liberate some women and breakdown taboos. But it also put pressure on others to always be willing.

Richard said: “This era saw the start of modern feminism, where women had the freedom to be themselves.

“But it was also a time when some unscrupulous men could take advantage of women under the guise of ‘free love’.”

Author Virginia Ironside described the ‘flip side’ of the revolution and how pregnancy was no longer a reason to say ‘no’, which was often exploited. ‘Free love’ also did not end violence against women or inequality.

The mini skirt

Shortening hemlines marked shifting attitudes, as the Sixties gave way to a more casual way of dressing.

Designer Mary Quant popularised the mini-skirt and helped bring mass production of affordable fashion to the public.

Richard, who has written a book about Sixties’ heiress and fashion model Nicky Samuel, said: “Suddenly there was a sea of mini skirts on campus. It took us by surprise and made quite an impact.”

The boutique scene shot up and people flocked to new stores in London’s Kings Road and Carnaby Street.

Granny Takes a Trip, founded by Nigel Waymouth, his girlfriend Sheila Cohen and John Pearse, was one such place young people would shop.

As the Sixties site explains, the name explained its style of clothing – it sold antique pieces and also fitted the LSD-heavy counterculture of the time.

Richard writes in his book, ‘Nicky Samuel: My Life and Loves,’ how the ‘It girl’ of the time met with Waymouth and described him as ‘the most fashionable hippy in the King’s Road’.

The shop was also, unusually for the time, totally unisex. Many of its customers were also what would now be termed LGBTQ+.

Movements and music

The Sixties saw the beginnings of the peace movement and LGBT rights, alongside the birth of the Beatles and the Vietnam War.

The 1969 Stonewall Riots marked a historic turning point for gay rights and became a symbol of resistance.

While British music saw the introduction of rock and roll and ‘Beatlemania’, as well as festivals which would go down in history.

Richard said: “People questioned the establishment, calling for equality and demanding change – rock music was the soundtrack to this counterculture movement.”

Family values

Traditional hierarchies began to dissolve and family values evolved. Richard, a father-of-three and grandfather of three, said: “I think we had been living in a very hierarchal society.

“I was brought up not to have my hands in my pocket while speaking to someone of a higher social rank. Change brought some freedom, but some might say also a loss of discipline.

“Traditional values ebbed away and divorce was no longer the stigma it was once. Children of divorced parents had been bullied and ostracised but fortunately this changed.”

Richard wants to recognise the social and cultural significance of the Sixties.

He said: “I don’t think we should view the era with rose-tinted glasses – some of the change was slow coming and not all of it was positive.

“But it was a time when many social freedoms were fought for and won, for which we should be grateful.”