Wellness, when coupled with the political activism of the 1960s counterculture was a proactive, socially oriented approach to physical and mental well-being.”

James Riley is Muriel Bradbrook Official Fellow in English Literature at Girton College, Cambridge. He is an expert on the countercultures of the modern and contemporary period.   

Widely published, James is the author of the cult hit The Bad Trip, an acclaimed cultural history of the late sixties. His latest book, Well Beings (2024) is a dizzying and provocative secret history of modern wellness that uncovers its origins in the alternative health cultures of the 1970s. From the panoramic coastal vistas of the Esalen Institute to the interior darkness of the floatation tank Well Beings offers a bold, new take on the 1970s and reminds us what wellness used to mean.

‘Well Beings is on the money in every sense of the term […] Sensory and information overload’ – Mick Brown, The Spectator.