keep_calm_and_carry_on_poster.jpg by chomchefBritophile that I am, I actually hadn’t heard of this until a couple of years ago. When I discovered a “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster and learned the history behind it, I was enchanted, and then I discovered that I was not one of a few…. 


This iconic image is a “meme” in every sense of the word– almost a virus–and has swept across Britain, across America, and across the world. Now you can buy not only the poster, but also pencil tins, acrylic cutouts, bracelets, throw pillows, video camera engravings, erasers, iPad skins, bandagesparty supplies, water bottles, cufflinks, and ceramic tiles (I own a set of coasters) emblazoned with this positive message. There are a million and one design variations on the theme, and you can even go to KeepCalmAndCarryOn.com to make your own unique products with “The Keep Calm Creator.”

So how did all of this craziness start?
If you’re at all familiar with the phenomenon then you probably know that it’s

British and that it has its roots in World War II. Watch this video to hear the full story of how this remarkable phrase never inspired the people of war-torn Britain, but how it’s certainly impacted people searching for peace and perseverance in the 21st century. 

What’s your opinion? Do you think that the craze has gone too far?

Play Ocarina and Save Zelda by markltbKeep Calm and Live Consciously by Bilal KamoonKeep Calm and... by izatrini_com
P.S. Do you need a doormat? Or chocolate bars? Yep, they’ve got those too. 

keep_calm_and_carry_on_poster.jpg, a photo by chomchef on Flickr.  
Keep Calm, a photo by Vegan Feast Catering on Flickr. 
Play Ocarina and Save Zelda, a photo by markltb on Flickr. 
Keep Calm and Live Consciously, a photo by Bilal Kamoon on Flickr.   
Keep Calm and…, a photo by izatrini_com on Flickr. 

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Written by Abigail Rogers

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

This article has 6 comments

  1. J_on_tour@jayzspaze Reply

    Wow, I find it more amazing that I have been in this bookshop on numerous occasions and never even knew this story. There are too many things to see that distract the eye away from the posters particularly the coffee and the bookshops own biscuits that can be enjoyed in front of a glorious open fire purchased via the unique honesty payment box.

    It is interesting to see how the craze has progressed by typing into Google images “Keep calm and” ! … the sort of thing that one would expect to find on someones tee shirt ! … not quite sure how well some of them it despite their humour.

    • Abby Rogers Reply

      Wow, that is so funny! Well, now you have something to talk about next time you visit the bookshop :)

      Biscuits in front of the fire sound *amazing*.

  2. Geoff Maritz Reply

    Very interesting indeed. Is the poster hanging in the bookshop the original one and was only one ever printed?
    Personally speaking, I think the time of it’s arrival is perfect considering the times we are going through at the moment. Maybe this is when we need it the most.

    • Abby Rogers Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Geoff! 2,500,000 copies of the poster were originally printed, but the book shop copy is one of the few remaining.

      This could be the best time for its appearance! So many people are losing hope and need this message.

  3. Jean Reply

    Abby, I’ve loved the Keep Calm image since I first saw it, but I’ve not ever purchased a single item. Not sure why!

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