Angels or Demons

Promiscuous, irresponsible, outrageous and glamorous where just a few of the things that The Bright Young Things of the 1920’s prided themselves in being famous for.

Capers that started of as harmless jolly japes, elaborate treasure hunts through nighttime London and extravagant fancy dress parties turned disastrously wrong when fueled by excessive use of alcohol and drugs such as hashish, cocaine and heroin.

Their ‘Carpe Diem’ Seize the Day attitude was considered to be their mutual reactions to the 1914-1918 war as these where the sons and daughters of the aristocracy and wealthy middle-classes who felt that they had no position or reason in life and therefore spent their time indulged in licentious behaviour


bright-young-things-4                 bright-young-things-2


The Bright Young Things where notorious for patronising the numerous cocktail bars, night clubs and jazz clubs where they danced and drank till dawn.

They became obsessed with jazz which they saw as modern, raw and anti-establishment, stylized debauchery.

Noel Coward was simply considered the best all-rounder of the theatrical, literary and musical worlds of the 20th century. He invented the concept of celebrity and was the essence of chic in the Jazz Age of the 20s and 30s.

ca. 1931 --- Actors Gertrude Lawrence and Noel Coward in the comedy . --- Image by © Condé Nast Archive/CORBIS

ca. 1931

His debonair looks and stylishly groomed appearance made him the icon of ‘the Bright Young Things’ that inhabited the world of The Ivy , The Savoy and The Ritz.


The popular black cabaret entertainer of the day, Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson is who The Bright Young Thing’s loved to patronise.

One of “Hutch’s” greatest hits was Cole Porter’s song, “Lets do it, let’s fall in love “, to which it is said that “Hutch” supposedly made up some 70 new verses.

Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson    

Picture shows : Leslie Hutchinson - Cabaret Singer (Died August 1969)

and Edwina, Lady Mountbatten’s, the last Vicerine of India


They were said to have been lovers, however as a result of the scandal this illicit affair caused, “Hutch” found himself shunned by many of his former patrons.

Jack Ross in the TV series Dalton Abbey was supposedly loosely based on “Hutch” and  Edwina Lady Mountbatten.hutch-3


“Hutch” Hutchinson and composer Cole Porter where also said to have been lovers.


Cole Porter apparently maintained a luxury apartment in Paris, where he entertained lavishly.

His  parties were extravagant and scandalous, with “much gay and bisexual activity, Italian nobility, cross-dressing, international musicians and a large surplus of recreational drugs.          cole-porter


Another of The Bright Young Things was Brenda Dean Paul, an actress dubbed the ‘Society Drug Addict’ by the press of the day.

Her life was that of either rehab or prison, she reportedly ‘lived on brandy cocktails and salted nuts for years’.   brenda-dean-paul


Elizabeth Ponsonby  who was another prominent Bright Young Thing was considered to be the original 1920s ‘It’ Girl”.

She is said to have partied hard was famous for her extravagant pranks and regrettably drank herself to death before she was 40th birthday.  

                     ponsenby                                    pons-1                                              

Conceivably the best known ‘celebrity’ of the times was Stephen Tennant, the youngest son of the Earl of Glenconnor.

Outrageous in both his clothes and behaviour, it was said he spent most of his life in bed furthermore it is said that he was constantly dogged by the paparazzi of the day.


Tennant’s style was androgynous, like many of the men within his circle, and although gay and lesbian relationships were against the law in Britain in the 1920s, they were accepted by the Bright Young Things.                 stepehen-tennant-2

 The famous Mitford Sisters mitford-3

were most certainly main players within The Bright Young Things Scene.

Nancy Mitford nancy-mitford-2

claimed that she and the other Bright Young Things “hardly saw the light of day, except at dawn” but what fun we had…….

Nancy is believed to have based the character Cedric in her novel ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ on Stephen                     love-in-a-cold-climate-the-complete-series-2


Nancy’s sisters Diana married Sir Oswald Mosley 6th Baronet of Ancoates. Mosley was the leader of the British Union of Fascist.   mosley-1

Diana now Diana Mosley with her sister Unity, who were equally as famous as Nancy, were supporters of Mosley’s fascist “Blackshirts” movement and devotees of the German  dictator Adolf Hitler.    mitford-sisters


Evelyn Waugh    evelyn-waugh

author of Vile Bodies, vile-1                      vile-2

later to become the film Bright Young Things.

Evelyn also wrote also wrote


A Hand Full of Dust, dust-1             dust-2

Brideshead Revisited brides-head-2brides-head-3


and many more, and was also part of this elitist set.


As was Society Photographer Cecil Beaton        cecil_beaton                   cecil-beaton

who took the wedding photographs of Wallis Simpson when the twice married divorce married the Duke of Winsor in France in June 1939    wallis-2


 And so were they Angels or Demons…….

I most certainly think Angels as I am of the opinion that each and every one of them played an enormous part in the history of the 20th Century as we know and love it.

Our bookshelves would be empty as would our vocabulary 

Some of their amazing Slang is still in use today and should be used more oftern

Bank’s closed,  an expression meaning “no kissing or funny business.”

Bee’s knees; an expression meaning “the very best.”
Clam, noun; a dollar
Fly boy, noun; an aviator
Gin Mill, noun; a bar where hard liquor is sold.
Handcuff, noun; an engagement ring

and even our DVD collection would be some what depleted if they had not lived their lives as they did, on the edge, with no by your leave to anyone, but with no true malice of forethought. 

And so my advice to myself and any of you kindly taking the time to read this is to read every  every book written by Evelyn Ward and Nancy Mitford.

Watch all the films based on these books and TV series and read all and any book written about each and every one of these decadent,promiscuous, irresponsible, outrageous and glamorous people and enjoy life throw their eyes…

After all in less than four years time The 20’s will be upon us again…..

Early Bird Tickets for our November 2016 Themed Dance are now on sale On–liverpool/the-adventures-of-fu-manchu/?mode=search

img268                             img269

Until next time……


Rosie Lea xxx


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