January 27, 2012

The Second World War left a tumultuous impact on the civilization. The post-World War II era was essentially characterized by depression and anxiety as the postwar reforms failed to meet exalted aspirations for genuine change. This very desolate prospect is also evident in the literature of the 20th century. These adverse impacts of World War II helped to create several new traditions in literature. One such movement made its way in the early 1950s. This radically new age was labelled as the Angry Young Men Movement. The literature of this age chiefly represented a rebellious and critical attitude towards the postwar British society. The “angry young men” comprised a group of English novelists and playwrights, mostly having lower-middle or working-class, and university background. The label “angry young men” is assumed to have borrowed from Leslie Paul’s autobiographical book Angry Young Man (1951). After critical acclamation of Osborn’s play Look Back in Anger, the British Newspapers employed the label to encapsulate the mode and temperament of this group of writes.


The major characteristics of the Angry Young Men Movement are as follows:
  • Revolt against Social Inequality: A major concern in Angry Young Men Movement writings is the dissatisfaction of the lower-class towards the established socio-political system which inequitably valued the middle and the upper classes.
  • Criticism of Mannerism: Literature of this age fiercely criticises the hypocrisy of the middle and the upper classes.
  • Portrayal of Social Status of Youth: Another frequent subject in this age is the depiction of abject position of the youth in society. The writers often portrayed the central hero being disillusioned with the life and dissatisfied with their job and a society where he is unfit and deprived of normal rights.
  • Revolt against conventionality: Angry Young Men literature strongly revolted against all the accepted norms and ideals.
  • Unconventional Hero: Typically the hero is a rootless, lower-middle or working-class male psyche with a university degree. He expresses his dissatisfaction towards social ills with excessive anger and sardonic humour. He often indulges into adultery and inebriation to escape from complexities of life. In fine, he is the very epitome of a frustrated post-World War II generation.

Chief Representatives

The chief representatives of the Angry Young Men Movement are as follows:
John Wain (1925–1994)

Wain, John, English poet, novelist, and critic, who portrayed the repressions of society in lively comic situations. He is assumed to have showed Angry Young Men temperament in his first novel Hurry on Down (1953). It is a comic picaresque story about an unsettled university graduate who sought to reject the standards of conventional society.
Kingsley Amis (1922–1995)

Amis, Kingsley, English novelist, whose works undertake a humorous critical survey of the post-World War II British society. Amis's first novel was Lucky Jim (1954), which according to many reflects the Angry Young Men temperament. This particular book influenced a number of British playwrights and novelists, including John Osborne and Alan Sillitoe. Therefore, many critics believe that like Wain, Amis was also an early Angry Young Men writer.
John Osborne (1929–1994)

Osborne, John, English playwright and motion picture screenwriter, whose plays enact sharp criticism of post-World War II British life through outbursts of abusive language. It was Osborn’s debut play Look Back in Anger (1957) that made the Angry Young Men Movement authoritatively established. In this sense, John Osborne was the most fortunate literary artist to have an age started on the basis of a single literary work.
John Braine (1922–1986)

Braine, John, English novelist, who attacked outmoded social values left over from the prewar world. His most notable work is Room at the Top (1957), a novel exemplifying the various concerns of the post-World War II generation. The novel tells the story of a young working-class man trapped into a marriage with the daughter of a wealthy businessman.
Bernard Kops (1926– )

Kops, Bernard, English playwright, poet and novelist, who is known for his works of unabashed sentimentality. His first play The Hamlet of Stepney Green (1956) is deemed to be one of the key archetypes of the Angry Young Men Movement.
Alan Sillitoe (1928–2010)

Sillitoe, Alan, English novelist and poet, whose brash and angry accounts of the working-class life showcased the spirit of the Angry Young Men Movement. He is best known for his first novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958). It tells the story of a rude and amoral young factory worker for whom drink and sex on Saturday night provide the only relief from the oppression of the working life.

This literary Movement brought a fresh concept which was totally complied with the then socio-political context. Though lasted only for a short span of time, it exerted a profound impact in the field of British literature. This dominant literary movement ended by the early 1960s.


“ Alan Sillitoe.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2012. 21 January 2012

“Angry Young Men.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2012. 21 January 2012

“Angry Young Men.” Wikipedia. 2012. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 21 January 2012
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angry_young_men >.

“Bernard Kops.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2012. 21 January 2012

“John Braine.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2012. 21 January 2012

“Sir Kingsley Amis.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2012. 21 January 2012
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  1. very good information..thank you.....

    Literary movement

    Literary movement allows achieving new movements and is a systematic study of nature of literature and of the

  2. Following the success of the Osborne play, the label "angry young men" was later applied by British media to describe young writers who were characterized by a disillusionment with traditional British society. The term, always imprecise, began to have less meaning over the years as the writers to whom it was originally applied became more divergent, and many of them dismissed the label as useless.
    English Literature

  3. Helpful information thanks


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