The Croydon Boy trilogy
In these three volumes, Peter Saunders blends sociological research with social history and some personal reminiscences to reflect on how life in Britain has changed since World War II.
Note: All three volumes were re-issued with new cover designs in September 2023, and volumes II and III were given new titles and new ISBN numbers
I shall be giving a talk based on Croydon Boy to the Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society on Monday 11 December at 7.45pm in the David Sweet Hall, East Croydon United Reform Church, 86 Addiscombe Grove, CR0 5LP. Non-members are welcome.
CROYDON BOY: Growing up in post-war Britain
Who was the best-selling recording artist in Britain in 1967? Not the Beatles, the Stones, the Who or the Beach Boys. It was Engelbert Humperdink.
The reality of the sixties often fails to live up to the hype. Very few young Brits were tripping on acid, demonstrating in Grosvenor Square, or battling among the Mods and Rockers on Brighton beach. Peter Saunders wasn't - he was too busy fretting that he might never lose his virginity.
Croydon Boy examines how dramatic post-war changes in family life, sexual mores, education, law and order, standards of living and personal freedoms impacted on the lives of ordinary kids growing up in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.
Paperback (revised edn, 2020, ISBN:9-781716-577376) £14.99 (308pp)
First published 2016 in hardback (no longer available)
Purchase from Lulu.com (recommended) or Amazon
"It's a wonderful book and I loved the mix of sociology and autobiography"
"Beautifully written, highly readable and immensely evocative"
"I read it in one sitting and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. It made a pleasant change to read some 'warts and all' reminiscences rather than the more usual 'sanitised' approach"
"An excellent read"
"Has brought back many memories and I have been chuckling out loud many times. I am amazed at the detail of your recollection"
"Wonderful, just like reliving the first 20 years of my life. I laughed out loud and cried"
"Such a riveting read. I thoroughly enjoyed the intertwining of personal and social histories"
"A great piece of social history"
"Laughed and cried all the way through it, it is a great book"
"I couldn't put it down... exceptionally entertaining and a brilliant portrayal of life in the 50s and 60s, a really important comment on social history... a wonderful book, I thoroughly enjoyed it"
"I got your book as a Christmas present from my wife...most enjoyable and a fascinating read...very enlightening"
"I so enjoyed reading Croydon Boy. You helped me remember all those things I thought I'd forgotten...I have recommended this book to several friends"
"I cannot describe adequately the range of emotions I experienced when reading this wonderful book. I feel quite exhausted!... You have such sensitivity - and humour... So THANK YOU for a wonderful book... I will look forward to reading more of your writing"
"It held my interest like no other... I absolutely loved it...Thanks so much for writing this great book"
"Only halfway through your book & my 'Croydon girl' is asking 'What are you reading?' (in response to satisfied noises coming from her own Croydon boy). Great book mate from a bloke I'd share a pint or two with."
"Although I am about 10 years younger than the author I found this a wonderful picture of life in Croydon in the 50's and 60's, and indeed of that time in England in general."
"This is an excellent book especially if your familiar with the area. Great reading and fabulous pictures. Takes you back that’s for sure when we were children."
"Bought this for my own ‘Croydon Boy’ for our anniversary. He’s hardly put it down & constantly reading bits out to me."
"Croydon Boy was an excellent book, now about to start Croydon Boy II, so much I can identify with in your book. Thank you for such wonderful reading material."
MAN FROM ANYWHERE:
Settling Down in Unsettled Times
THE SIXTIES ARE OVER...
The Beatles have disbanded. Ali has lost his heavyweight crown. Crystal Palace have been relegated to Division III. The government has even scrapped British Summer Time.
Married at 20, a father at 21, we catch up with the author in 1971 living with his in-laws. It's not working out too well.
The world isn't in a good state either. British troops shoot 13 civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry. Eleven Israeli athletes are slaughtered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics. Unemployment and inflation are spiralling. And with the miners out on strike, we're lighting our homes with candles.
But then, out of the East (Lincolnshire, to be exact) comes a new leader. An Iron Lady with a hair-do like a helmet who promises to restore peace and harmony to the land. That's when the shit really hits the fan.
Part sociology, part social history, part autobiography, this sequel to 'Croydon Boy' takes a very personal look back at raising a family, building a career and searching for the meaning of life during the tumultuous years of the 1970s and 1980s.
(Previously published as Croydon Boy II)
Paperback (2021) £12.99 (254pp)
ISBN:9-7814467-29489 (purchase direct from Lulu or through Amazon)
"I have just finished reading Croydon Boy II - once again I was addicted. There was much shouting and whooping whilst I was reading it - so much so I had to take notes which became a focus for discussion with my husband every evening. I (and I imagine many other readers) identified with so many of the issues you wrote about... Thank you again for such inspirational writing - I can't wait to read part 3"
"The second book in the trilogy brought back some memories!... Have enjoyed the first two books. Is the third one out yet?"
"I bought this book for a Father's Day present and he really enjoyed it"
Growing Old in a New Millennium
HISTORY DIDN’T END IN 1990 AFTER ALL...
Far from it. Radical Islamists hi-jacked four jets and aimed them at New York and Washington DC. The world financial system almost collapsed. Scientists warned that the planet was incinerating. Men started wearing dresses and claiming they were women. Britain tore itself in two over Brexit. Russia launched a war in Eastern Europe. The Chinese unleashed a deadly, global pandemic. And our phones became smarter than we are.
Tip-toeing his way through the mounting chaos and confusion, Peter Saunders had problems of his own to sort out as he negotiated middle age. How do you divide the books when you get divorced? Can pornography offer a cure for a broken heart? Should you end old friendships that have grown stale? Is an allotment really the answer to a happy and fulfilling retirement? And can the secret of the meaning of life be found in a place called Southbridge Junction?
In this final volume of the Croydon Boy trilogy, Saunders brings a lifetime's immersion in sociology to bear on the crucial question of howto survive creeping old age when the world around you is going potty.
(Previously published as Croydon Boy III)
Paperback (2023) £15.99 (333 pages)
ISBN: 9-7814467-29571 (purchase direct from Lulu)
"I was just going to dip into it during my lunch break but ended up reading over half of it! Thoroughly enjoying it, as I have the first two books"
"I got a copy of Volume III and found it very absorbing...Thank you for the trilogy of Croydon Boy - your story rang lots of bells for me, and brought back many memories"
"I found it a complete page-turner... The account of your parents last days is one of the most brilliant and moving things I've ever read"
WHY CORNELIUS STOTT CHANGED HIS NAME
and other family stories
Clearing his parents' loft after his mother died, Peter Saunders found a family bible given to his Great Grandmother by her son John to mark his death in the Great War. But how could a soldier return from the dead to give his mother a bible?
His search for an answer led Saunders into a warren of fabulous family stories from the past. He encountered coal miners from Gloucestershire, cotton workers from Manchester, farmworkers from Scotland, illiterate peasants who emigrated to England from Ireland. There were pinhead makers, hatters, rag sorters and prostitutes; children in convalescent homes and old folk in the Workhouse; soldiers who died in the Flanders mud, and soldiers - like John - who came home broken men.
None of them was rich or famous. They were among the millions of common men and women of these islands whose names we have forgotten, but whose labours created the modern world we inhabit today. Here are their stories.
Paperback (2021, ISBN: 9-781008-966611) £12.99 (301pp)
Purchase from Lulu or Amazon
"Brilliant!! Excellent read, so cleverly put together...I do think that this book would positively encourage people to research their Family Trees to see if they have any rogues, vagabonds or criminals in their families! It’s such a vibrant collection of yarns full of humour, pathos & at times, utter wretchedness.......all human life is there!! Fantastic achievement."
"Couldn't put the book down once I started reading it. I loved it... interesting and compelling"