HALYCON days in Bognor Regis have been recaptured in a new book by an internationally known author.
Peter Marshall has turned his attention away from philosophy, history and anarchism to recalling his early years.
Many of those were based around Stocker Road – packed with hotels – in a seaside town basking in its holiday success of the post-Second World War era.
Peter, 72, said: “I grew up in Bognor Regis in its heyday, just after the war, and I was very fortunate to do that. I have a lot of good memories of those days. I used to go fishing with my brother in a boat.”
His latest book, Bognor Boy – How I Became An Anarchist, has gained rave reviews for its account of how he developed his vision of radical and peaceful change.
Emeritus professor, philosopher and author John Clark says: “It is propitious that Peter Marshall’s Bognor Boy appears at the 50th anniversary of the momentous revolutionary year of 1968.
“The book is valuable for many reasons, but not least of all as a major document of the generation of 68 and its living legacy. It is an important work, not only of biography, but of social history.
“It has a rich sense of time and place, and paints a vivid picture not only of Bognor, but of the culture of post-war England, continuing through the 60s.”
Bognor Boy details the first 24 years of Peter’s life from 1946. He was born in a nursing home in Nyewood Lane and lived with his mother and father, Vera, and brother, Michael, in Stocker Road.
His father, Bill, had been an RAF pilot and became a jockey and horse trainer.
This was mainly in a house which Vera’s parents had built a few doors along from in the Bridport Hotel they ran and where Peter and his family also lived.
Peter writes about his life there: “We were materially well off in Chideok, 10 Stocker Road… It had well-furnished rooms on three floors, a large garden and middle-class aspirations. But we were culturally poor. We had no library.”
His father walked out in 1949 and Peter went to a private school in Victoria Drive aged five and was later sent to a boarding school in Steyning. Its teachers tried to get him to conform but, after a year training in London as a purser cadet he travelled the world in the Merchant Navy.
Teaching English in Senegal followed and he returned to England as the ‘swinging sixties’ were well underway. He took a degree in French, English and Spanish and began to develop his radical views. He taught at universities and has lived in North Wales and now Devon.
He has written 16 books, of which two have been chosen as books of the year in their subjects, and translated into 15 languages. His circumnavigation of Africa was made into a British TV series and an Italian TV series was based on his book on alchemy. His voyage around Ireland became a British radio series.
He has a doctorate in the History of Ideas and is an elected fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Bognor Boy (ISBN: 978-0951106976) is priced £10.