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  • Published: 1 December 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409020639
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

Bright Young People

The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918-1940

A remarkable history of the 'lost generation' of the 1920s - parties, scandal, Jazz, clashing generations and the dark legacy of war.

Bright Young People/ Making the most of our youth/ They talk in the Press of our social success/ But quite the reverse is the truth. [Noel Coward]

The Bright Young People were one of the most extraordinary youth cults in British history. A pleasure-seeking band of bohemian party-givers and blue-blooded socialites, they romped through the 1920s gossip columns. Evelyn Waugh dramatised their antics in Vile Bodies and many of them, such as Anthony Powell, Nancy Mitford,Cecil Beaton and John Betjeman, later became household names. Their dealings with the media foreshadowed our modern celebrity culture and even today,we can detect their influence in our cultural life.

But the quest for pleasure came at a price. Beneath the parties and practical jokes was a tormented generation, brought up in the shadow of war, whose relationships - with their parents and with each other - were prone to fracture. For many, their progress through the 'serious' Thirties, when the age of parties was over and another war hung over the horizon, led only to drink, drugs and disappointment, and in the case of Elizabeth Ponsonby - whose story forms a central strand of this book - to a family torn apart by tragedy.

Moving from the Great War to the Blitz, Bright Young People is both a chronicle of England's 'lost generation' of the Jazz Age, and a panoramic portrait of a world that could accommodate both dizzying success and paralysing failure. Drawing on the writings and reminiscences of the Bright Young People themselves, D.J. Taylor has produced an enthralling social and cultural history, a definitive portrait of a vanished age.

  • Published: 1 December 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409020639
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the author

D J Taylor

D.J. Taylor's novels include English Settlement, which won a Grinzane Cavour Prize, Trespass and Derby Day, both of which were long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and Kept: A Victorian Mystery. His other books include After the War: The Novel and England Since 1945, Thackeray, Orwell: The Life, which won the 2003 Whitbread Biography Prize, and Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918–1940. He lives in Norwich with his wife, the novelist Rachel Hore, and their three sons.

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Praise for Bright Young People

Taylor writes with such skill and aplomb that it's impossible not to be swept along by the intelligence and observations


Shrewd and absorbing in his analysis of the way Waugh and Nancy Mitford promoted the world they would soon skewer in fiction

Sunday Times

Moving and always entertaining

Jane Stevenson, Daily Telegraph

The depth and integrity of Taylor's research can only inspire awe and admiration.

Sunday Express

D J Taylor's enthusiasm, delivered with the zeal of a recent convert, proves there is fascination even in empty living and that the Bright Young Brigade of the 1920s are just as worthy of a book or two as Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Tamara Beckwith, Calum Best and all the flapping 'It-people' of our own generation

Alexander Waugh, Literary Review

A spirited and nostalgic book...a giddy ride through a lost world of overindulgent gaiety and the next best thing to being at the parties oneself'

Scotland on Sunday

His fascinating study of hedonism, futility and fracture... a complex study of family, fear and breakdown

New Statesman

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