This film is part of Free

Beatniks of St Ives

Clive Gunnell wanders around St Ives and ponders the Bohemian lifestyle of the beatniks.

News 1963 2 mins Silent

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Clive Gunnell explores the subculture of beatniks by hanging out in St Ives and catching up with some of them harbourside. Equipped peacenikly with a guitar and dressed in black Gunnell attempts to assimilate in order to find out just what it is to be a beaknik living in St Ives. Many of the attitudes came as a direct result of a younger generation's thoughts about the Second World War and continued to grow as television spread images of the Vietnam War around the world.

The word Beatnik is credited to Californian journalist Herb Caen who combined the nik from the Soviet Union's Sputnik I satellite launch of 1957 with beat from the beat generations. The portmanteau was exported along with the attitudes of a new literary movement whose writers experimented with psychoactive drugs and rejected war. Society's strict conventions were torn up and the counterculture gave birth to new ways of thinking. Cornwall became a destination for communities that were linked to these new literary, music and art movements and not always welcomed by the locals. Experimentation with drugs and non-conformist attitudes towards marriage, sex and work rankled with older generations.