Benincasa-Sharman, Caterina Amanda (2013) We are not dealing with someone else’s “left overs”! Northern English Cities’ response to the 1951 Festival of Britain. In: Formations and Representations of British National Identity, 19-20 September 2013, Warwick University. (Unpublished)

There has been a welcome expansion in literature documenting aspects of the 1951 Festival of Britain since the publication of Becky Conekin’s The Autobiography of a Nation, a decade ago. Even though the Festival was a celebration of culture, work and production across the whole of the nation, most of the works published after the event, solely discuss, or at best emphasise what happened or was conceived in London. Even now, there are expressions of surprise that events happened elsewhere. This disconnect, was perceived at the time, by places outside the southern capital, with criticism being made about the Festivals London centric narrative of ‘Britishness’.
Northern English cities recognised this ‘London and not London’ binary for the duration of the planning and performance of their own festivities, reacting to it with alternative regional, or metropolitan identities. London was publicly goaded for its inefficiency by Liverpool and ignored by York who favoured Edinburgh as a mentor. Manchester pleaded with London for a larger part to play in the Festival while Leeds was surprised to feel as important as the English capital. This paper will explore how cities responded to London’s call to celebrate their Festival(s) of Britain.

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