1968 was arguably one of the most volatile and influential years of the 20th century. Set against the backdrop of momentous world events, new novel Sleeping Through War tells the story of three ‘ordinary’ women living in extraordinary times. Here are ten things that you might not know about 1968:

Jackie Carreira

Jackie Carreira

1. In 1968, the world’s population was just over 3.5 billion. So, if you were born that year, the number of people on the planet has doubled in your lifetime. If you’re feeling a bit overcrowded, it’s hardly surprising.

2. We all know that 2018 marks the centenary of the first women in Britain to get the vote, but it took another fifty years before equality was seriously considered. In May 1968 permission was given for a Bill to be introduced to Parliament to remove discrimination against women, including equal pay for equal work. This was, in part, due to the actions of women at the Ford Motor works, which inspired the movie Made In Dagenham. Fifty years on and we’re still waiting for equal pay!

3. In December, the Apollo 8 spacecraft orbited around the Moon and its astronauts became the first humans to see the far side of it and the whole of planet Earth. The iconic photograph Earthrise was taken on that voyage.

4. Other iconic pictures you might recognise from 1968 are the African American athletes at the Olympic Games in Mexico City raising their fists in support of the civil rights’ movement, and a Viet Cong officer being executed in the street in a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph. A year of powerful images.

5. In November, Yale University announced it was going to admit female students for the first time. Meanwhile millions of students around the globe were protesting war in Vietnam, campaigning for civil rights, women’s rights, environmental issues, nuclear protests and many other political issues, holding sit-ins, rallies and sometimes violent demonstrations. Today’s undergraduates are too busy struggling with student debt!

6. The average UK house price was £4,344 and the average annual salary was around £1,660. Today the gap between the two is a teeny bit wider.

7. It was a good year for actors. Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Cuba Gooding Jr, Gillian Anderson, Will Smith and Hugh Jackman were all born in 1968.

8. It was a good year for comedians too. Catherine Tate, Stewart Lee, Al Murray, Jon Culshaw and Lee Mack were all born in 1968.

9. Tragically both Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F Kennedy were assassinated in 1968. Other greats we lost that year include blind/deaf campaigner Helen Keller, Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck, and Yuri Gagarin, who was the first human in space.

10. On a lighter note…Cliff Richard represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. He came second with ‘Congratulations’, losing out to Spain’s winning song, ‘La La La’ by only one point. Ah, those were the days!