These enterprise mavericks have come in many guises, such as inventor Clive Sinclair, Anita Roddick of the Body Shop and Laura Ashley. Perhaps the most famous is Richard Branson (b. 1950), the Virgin boss who has diversified from a music label and record shops into radio, airlines, Internet provision, pensions, banking and more. Branson started by importing cheaper goods from France into the UK, opening a mail-order business, and even distributing contraceptives in London in the 1960s. In the 1990s he became something of a media personality with his many attempts to circumnavigate the globe in a succession of hot air balloons. Entrepreneurs come and go, but Branson’s rise has appeared unstoppable; in a survey of schoolchildren in the early 1990s, he was voted the best contemporary British male role model.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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