Michael Frayn is certainly a hard act to follow. In 1963, in Michael Sissons and Philip French's Age of Austerity, Frayn provided a brilliant characterization of the organizers of the Festival of Britain, which had been staged 12 years earlier. The organizers had been, he argued, paternalistic ‘Herbivores’—determined to stage a celebration that would entertain, but also enlighten, their more ‘Carnivorous’ compatriots (p. 320).

Fifty years later, Frayn's words are still widely quoted and, for much of that period, their precision and concision seemed to deter historians from following in his footsteps by analysing the Festival, its organizers and their achievements. In recent years, however, the number of Festival studies has finally started to grow. In particular, Becky Conekin has written one book devoted entirely to the subject ('The Autobiography of...

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