Further reading on the East Anglian Fairs, on British (pop) festivals, related alternative culture, on performance of ritual more generally (updated 2011)

This bibliography focuses on books, chapters and the odd journal article - for other material there are websites, specialist magazines like Festival Eye, and so on. Those entries marked * contain material specifically on the East Anglian Fairs. (I know, there's not much. Actually I really would like to do a research project focused on that movement and those people.) There are very brief annotated comments.

The bibliography was compiled [in 2005] by George McKay, Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Central Lancashire. George, part of the Scottish diaspora, moved to England, to Norfolk, as a young boy in the late 1960s. He was a rather purist punk in Norwich in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he could have been going to more fairs than he actually did, but insisted on seeing them as dead-end hippy events for a bit too long... He still hasn't quite resolved whether he regrets or admires that contumacious punk puritanism. His big sister, slightly older, wiser and more open, used to say 'Go to Lyng Fair, come with me to the free festival at Eaton, it's what you talk about in action'. He did get to some of the latter events. Also, he seems to have compensated by writing about the fairs later.

It was revised and updated by George, now Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Salford, in 2011, for the new website. Note that George is confident he does now regret not going to more fairs when he was a teenage punk in Norwich. More at:
Key texts missing? Let George know and he will amend.


Aubrey, Crispin, and John Shearlaw. 2005. Glastonbury: An Oral History of the Music, Mud and Magic . Ebury Press. Pop history by long-standing Glastonbury Festival workers.

*Barnes, Richard. 1983. The Sun in the East: Norfolk & Suffolk Fairs. Kirstead, Norfolk: RB Photographic. Still the primary book (though out of print) for photographs, graphics, some text. The original and best.

* Bell, Sandra. 1975. Build Another Barsham: A Guide to Faire Making. Self-help booklet on how to organise a fair. I have a photocopy of this only.

* Bell, Sandra. 1998. Twenty-five years of Footsbarn: 1971-1996: Contemporary Theatre Review, vol. 8:2., 83-93.

Bennett, Andy, ed. 2004 Remembering Woodstock. Aldershot: Ashgate. Academic essays, mostly, on that 1969 event.

Blain, Jenny, and Robert Wallis. 2007. Sacred Sites: Contested Rites/Rights: Pagan Engagements with Archaeological Monuments. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press. Has a chapter and other material in passim on Stonehenge, Druids and (free) festivals.

Blake, Andrew. 1997. The Land Without Music: Music, Culture and society in Twentieth Century Britain. Manchester: Manchester University Press. An academic study of Englishness as constructed through music, including festivals. Looks at both classical and pop music festival events.

Cameron, David Kerr. 1998. The English Fair. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. Historical trawl from early Saxon times on, from funfairs to seasonal gatherings. Includes chapter on horse fairs.

Carroll, Ian. 2007. The Reading Festival: The Official History. Reynolds and Hearn. Pop history, with evocative photos and ephemera, of what can fairly lay claim to be the most-enduring (oldest) festival in British pop history.

* Clarke, Michael. 1982. The Politics of Pop Festivals. London: Junction Books. The first academic study of the subject in Britain. Lots of detail about free festivals in particular, esp. Windsor, Deeply Vale. Touches in passing on 'medieval'-style fairs.

Cobbold, Chrissie Lytton. 1986. The Knebworth Rock Festivals. London: Omnibus. Large format photo-book, pop journalism.

Cohen, Abner. 1982. 'A polyethnic London carnival as a contested cultural performance'. Ethnic and Racial Studies vol. 5:1 (January 1982): 23-41. An academic article about Notting Hill Carnival, including some on its partial origins in the white counterculture of the 1960s, as well as its Caribbean origins.

Common Ground. 1997. Field Days: Ideas for Investigations and Celebrations. London: Common Ground. Eco-ritual and celebration, practical suggestions from campaign group.

Earle, Fiona, et al. 1994. A Time to Travel? An Introduction to Britain's Newer Travellers. Lyme Regis. Personal accounts of new travellers' experiences, on the road, at festivals, and so on.

Easthaugh, David, et al, eds. 2005 The Rising Sun: Celebrating Dance Camp East. Norwich: DCE. Account, with many photos and other images, of the Dance Camp East annual Suffolk/Norfolk gathering since the first in 1992. According to contributors, DCE 'came directly out of the fairs'. Discuss.

Elstob, Lynne, and Anne Howe. 1987. The Glastonbury Festivals. Glastonbury: Gothic Image. A large format photo-book of Glastonbury 1970-mid-1980s, with some text, band listings.

Gardner, Peter. 1987. Medieval Brigands: Picture in a Year of the 'Hippie' Convoy. Bristol. Collection of photographs of new travellers on the road.

Harvey, Graham. 1996. Listening People, Speaking Earth: Contemporary Paganism. London: Hurst. Includes some material on festivals, earth worship.

Hetherington, Kevin. 1992. 'Stonehenge and its festival: spaces of consumption'. In Rob Shields, ed. Lifestyle Shopping. London: Routledge. Academic piece interrogating the politics of consumption at Stonehenge Free Festival.

Hinton, Brian. 1995. Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festivals, 1968-70. Chessington, Surrey: Castle Communications. Detail and memory of the three big events.

Holdsworth, David. 1976. The New Society: A Report of the Development of Pop & 'Free' Festivals in the Thames Valley Area 1972-1975 by the Chief Constable. Thames Valley Police Authority. One view from the authorities, focusing on the policing of Windsor People's Free Festival 1972-74, and Watchfield 1975.

Lowe, Richard, and William Shaw. 1993. Travellers: Voices of the New Age Nomads. London: Lengthy and informative transcribed first-person interviews with a range of new travellers.

Kershaw, Baz. 1992. The Politics of Performance: Radical Theatre as Cultural Intervention. London: Routledge. Academic study, includes some material on crossover between alternative theatre and community ritual/performance.

Kerr, Andrew. 2011. Intolerably Hip. Kirstead, Norfolk: Frontier Publishng. Autobiography of the organiser of the legendary free 1971 Glastonbury Fayre.

* McKay, George. 1996. Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance Since the Sixties. London: Verso. Cultural history of post-60s movements and scenes, includes a chapter on the free festivals and East Anglian fairs. Others on new travellers, anarcho-punk, rave/free parties, eco-protest...

* ----- 2000. Glastonbury: A Very English Fair. Accessible cultural history of pop festivals in Britain, with reference to the countryside of West Country and East Anglia, and a focus on the cultural politics Glastonbury. Includes detailed timeline of festival culture in Britain from the 1950s on. Photos and images.

----- 2003. '"Unsafe things like youth and jazz": Beaulieu Jazz Festivals (1956-61) and the origins of pop festival culture in Britain'. In Andy Bennett's collection Remembering Woodstock, pp 90-110. Cultural history of the neglected jazz origins of pop festivals in the New Forest, Hampshire, during the 1950s.

----- 2011. Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden. London: Frances Lincoln. Includes a chapter on 'flower power', featuring material on the garden aspects of the counterculture, inc. psychedelic gardens, festivals as gardens. Another on peace garden as 'polemic landscape'

National Council for Civil Liberties. 1986. Stonehenge: A Report into the Civil Liberties Implications of the Events Relating to the Convoys of Summer 1985 and 1986. London: NCCL. Legal implications of the treatment of the Peace Convoy by police at the Battle of the Beanfield and beyond, signalling a serious clamping down on free festival culture by the then government.

Department of Environment. 1973. Pop Festivals: Advisory [Stevenson] Committee on Pop Festivals Report and Code of Practice. London: DoE. Surprisingly favourable report by a government-funded committee.

----- 1976. Free Festivals: First Report of the Working Group on Pop Festivals. London: DoE. Again, a surprisingly favourable report, this time specifically on free festivals, by government-funded committee, including representatives from all sides involved.

----- 1978. Pop Festivals and their Problems. London: DoE. Third and final report tells the story in its title: a much more critical official line is taken (and cf. Holdsworth 1975).

Report of Working Party Following Illegal Invasion of Castlemorton Common nr Malvern, Hereford and Worcester, May 22 to 29, 1992. Hereford and Worcester County Council. 1993/94. Details the impact of the 1992 Avon Free Festival and mega-free-rave on local community. Had some impact on the 1994 anti-rave clauses of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

Rimbaud, Penny. 1999. Shibboleth: My Revolting Life. Edinburgh: AK Press. Autobiography of drummer of influential anarcho-punk Crass, includes accounts of his work in the establishment of Stonehenge Free Festival, relationship with hippy Wally Hope, Crass's fateful appearance at Stonehenge in 1982-ish.

Sandford, Jeremy and Ron Reid. 1974. Tomorrow's People. London: Jerome. The first large format photo book on early British pop festivals, with photos by Reid and text by Sandford. (Apparently they met on top of the pyramid stage at Glastonbury 1971 and conceived the book there and then).

Stone, C.J. 1999. The Last of the Hippies. Entertaining account of countercultural traces and clashing personalities in contemporary Britain.

Widgery, David. 1986. Beating Time: Riot 'n' Race 'n' Rock 'n' Roll. London: Chatto and Windus. The founding of Rock Against Racism, its festivals, tours, campaigns, 1976 on. Graphics and text. Useful music and carnival counterpoint to what was going on in the English countryside at the time.

Worthington, Andy. 2004. Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion. Loughborough: Alternative Albion. Fascinating history of gatherings at Stonehenge, inc. the fee festivals of 1970s and 1980s, but earlier and later events too.

* Young, Rob. 2010 Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's visionary Music. London: Faber. Ambitious and wide-ranging (thick!) study of British folk-rock scene, ad much else related besides. If it doesn't quite do the medieval fairs justice it does just about everything else terrifically. Some great posters and photos.