The Croydon Boy books

In these books, Peter Saunders blends sociological research with social history and some personal experiences to reflect on how social change in Britain has affected our lives.

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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) £12.49

Hardback (first edn, 2017) £17.95

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Reader reviews:

"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"

Meet the family...!


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) £12.99


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Reader reviews:

"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."

"Excellent book"

"Couldn't put the book down once I started reading it.  I loved it... interesting and compelling"

In preparation...


Notes from an English Adulthood

In this sequel to 'Croydon Boy', Peter Saunders looks back over the period from 1971 to 2021 and reflects on his experience of half a century of English adulthood.
Grown-ups, he acknowledges, don’t have as much fun as kids.  “They do boring things like getting married, building careers and arranging mortgages.  These activities can’t begin to compare with hurtling down Duppas Hill in a box-cart, or creeping under the fence at King’s Cross engine sheds to see Mallard.”
But there are still interesting questions to pose about adulthood.  Do we really ‘fuck up’ our kids, as Philip Larkin famously suggested?  Is it possible to break up with friends the same way we break up with lovers?  How did we manage to accumulate so much money simply from owning a house?  And what should you do when the passenger sitting opposite you on a train puts their feet on the seat next to yours?

Expected publication date: 2022

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