Keep calm and carry on

How a propaganda poster became a global cultural icon

So we’re all familiar with these five little words that perfectly encapsulate that British ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude and have captured the collective imagination of the world, but did you know that this now-famous slogan almost passed by completely unnoticed?

In 1939, the British Government commissioned three propaganda posters to keep up morale in the lead-up to World War II. The first two were widely distributed, however the poster featuring the words ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ was reserved for a time of crisis or invasion. It was never officially released.

It wasn’t until 2000 that second-hand bookshop owner Stuart Manley found one of these posters in a box of books he’d bought at auction, and a global phenomenon was born. Since then, this short, sweet message has been copied and parodied countless times, offering a few words of hope from an era long past.

Find out more about this charming story here (then shop the collection below):

Keep calm and eat a cupcake
1. ‘Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake’ A4 print, $20; 2. ‘Cupcakes’ mug; 3. ‘Delete’ mug; 4. ‘Kiss Me Quick’ mug; 5. ‘Panic’ mug, all mugs $17.95. Shop the collection here.
Keep calm and grow a moustache
6. ‘Good Advice for Hard Times’ inspirational quote book, $9.95; 7. ‘Keep Calm’ cufflinks, $24.95; 8. ‘Grow a Mustache’ print, from $45; 9. ‘Age’ greeting cards (pack of 5), $25.95; 10. ‘Keep Calm’ iPhone 4/4S or 5 case, $35; 11. Gold-dipped necklace, $40; 12. Blue pendant necklace, $23. Shop the collection here.


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