Sink or Swim: Catholicism in Sixties Britain through John Ryan's Cartoons

by and , and John Ryan (illustrator)

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Book Details

Format: Paperback (140 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-78959-138-5

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The Sixties was an iconic decade, conjuring images of marked generational conflict and “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll”, but also of the Second Vatican Council (1962–5), the “permissive” legislation and Britain’s counter-culture, as well as the social transformations of the period encompassing ecumenism, the advent of the women’s movement and the beginning of the Troubles.

Better known as the creator of the BBC television series Captain Pugwash, John Ryan (1921–2009), through his weekly illustrations in the Catholic Herald, offered a topical interrogation of the British Catholic Church’s sometimes adaptive, though often inflexible responses to the changes and challenges of the period. This collection of Ryan’s cartoons provides a personal portrait of the extraordinary ups and downs of religion in the Sixties—encompassing the machinations of popes and cardinals, the testimony of expert witnesses, runaway priests, radical reformists and lay protest movements.

​​Alana Harris is a Senior Lecturer in Modern British History at King’s College London.

Isabel Ryan is the younger daughter of the artist and cartoonist John Ryan.

This is a delightful and instructive guide to the rollercoaster events and intellectual dilemmas as they were perceived by a layman whose medium of expression allowed him to be wry, nuanced, and ambivalent.

Glyn Paflin, Church Times

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