The Bright Young Things : A Social History of the Younger Generation in Britain Between the Wars, 1919-1934
Arsht, Lynn Teri
MetadataShow full item record
The Bright Young People were to change society life as the British knew it, tearing away from the last remnants of Edwardian England that had survived the war. The period 1926-29 was the hey-day of the Bright Young Things, but their activities spread into the early thirties. The inhibitions which they flung aside brought into the open tendencies in human behavior which had previously been politely ignored. This group was a mixed bunch of both sexes. They were the sons and daughters of well-to-do families, who saw no reason to carry on their parents archaic ideals. Their merry group included Barbara Cartland, Brian Howard, Zita and Thersa (Baby) Yungman, Eleanor Smith, Henry Plunkett-Green, Leolia Ponsonby and Daphne Vivian. They cast aside their parents idols, for the war had faded the images of these heros. Instead:their leaders were bourgeois Etonians like Aldous Huxley, hereditary aristocrats like the Sitwells, detached and sardonic satirists like Wyndham Lewis, messianic geniuses like D. H. Lawrence, and a whole host of sub-Huxleys and sub-Lawrences of both sexes. In examining the decade of 1920-1930 contradictions appear. This supposedly had been an era of gaiety and decadence, a striving for normalcy which had missed its mark. Nonetheless, its implication were felt in the decades after and in the Western world as a whole. It was a beginning of a new way of thinking, a new way of life. Change is usually very gradual, sometimes almost imperceptible. What is so often forgotten is that in 1920 there was an enourmous overlap of ages. A whole generation had been lost and now those who had been children during World War One were mature adults. Edwardian London was all around them and they were living with Edwardian people. But the problems they now faced were of a new nature. Therefore, the changes appeared to be much more dramatic•and contrasting then they really were. The gaiety and laughter, the dancing and drinking, were simply part of man's constant social evolution. The parties were a symbol of the Twenties insofar as they provided an excuse for escapism, not the apathy so often blamed upon them.