11:03:17 PM Mar 20th 2013
Not so much an encyclopedic entry as a sophomoric review of NEL from a left-wing perspective that rather misses the point of NEL's tone. NEL's 'greatest hits' of the 1960s and '70s may well have 'tapped into the morbid fantasies of "respectable" people who feared being murdered in their beds by out-of-control hoodlums, and found a wide and receptive readership' but these 'respectable' people were not the 'wide and receptive' readership. Those buying 'Chopper', 'Skinhead' and 'Suedehead' were not middle-class grocers, city businessmen and housewives in their 40s and 50s. The readers of NEL's output were mostly young males who relished wallowing vicariously in the violence and descriptive sex scenes, and identified with the anti-establishment anti-heroes. These anti-heroes' untimate destruction or punishment at the end of each novel was a morality trope that enabled the publisher to side-step or at least deflect conservative censorship. It is somewhat disingenuous to suggest 'The people behind NEL got their wish for strong authoritarian government ... when Margaret Thatcher was elected PM. Interestingly enough, the NEL declined in sales and popularity during the '80s and the imprint was closed down as an independent entity, although its publishing list was bought by Hodder', thereby inferring that when NEL got what it wanted, it was destroyed by it (apparently deservedly from the political perspective of the author). The people behind NEL didn't want to change the world, they just wanted to make money selling books in the mass market and they found an eager audience. The company's decline was, in fact, from 1981 as a result of Hodder and Stoughton buying the imprint and taking a new editorial direction. It was not from 1979 as the result of the Thatcher government.