Skip to main content Accessibility help
The Cult of Youth
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Buy the print book

Book description

In this major new study, James F. Stark provides the first historical account of the most dominant ideas, practices, and material cultures associated with anti-ageing and rejuvenation in modern Britain. With a focus on the interwar period, his study uncovers the role of the commercial world in influencing attitudes towards ageing and youth. Stark argues that the technologies of anti-ageing, their commercialisation and their consumption made rejuvenation a possible and desirable aim in a period of socio-political instability, mechanised conflict and extending lifespans. Ultimately, Stark offers an innovative historical account, which draws together bodies, gender, science, medicine, advertising, and ageing, and shows how the quest for youth was transformed by social anxieties about an ageing population and economic crisis.


‘Most of us fear growing old. Many of us have used a variety of techniques to retain at least the appearance - if not quite the essence - of youth: cosmetics; surgery; hormones; diet; and exercise. As James F. Stark argues in this splendid study of the ‘cult of youth' in Britain, the roots of our obsessions with youthfulness lie in the dark years of the interwar period. Mobilising a rich array of sources, Stark neatly displays the meanings and experiences of age and youth, the medical and commercial contexts in which anti-ageing remedies became popular, and the ways in which cults of youth were shaped by a complex constellation of social, political, and economic circumstances in the early twentieth century.'

Mark Jackson - University of Exeter

‘A compelling account of how aspiration to lasting youthfulness became embedded in British interwar culture. Technological and medical advance, expanding consumerism, marketing and mass media combined with insecurities due to war and economic depression to create lasting hopes that peak human fitness, female beauty and male sexuality could be extended into later life.'

Pat Thane - Visiting Professor, Department of History, Birkbeck College, London

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


  • 1 - Introduction
    pp 1-23


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.