Abstract

Posters with graffiti are among the most visible examples of vandalism against Postwar Britain's nanny state; this essay focuses on more off-the-wall exploits by 1960s public library prankster and playwright Joe Orton. After spending six months in prison for defacing library books, Orton emerged to become one of Postwar Britain's most important dramatists. Linking histories of libraries, propaganda, and graffiti, this essay asks why media regulators are so often analogized to old maids, and their vandals, to young men. What role do books and other print media play as mouthpieces for state authority, and as canvases for talking back to it?

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