Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Bright Young Things

I just watched a terrific BBC4 documentary about The Bright Young Things, I don't think it's available for much longer but watch it here if you can, it's brilliant.

They were beautiful, rich, outrageous, decadent and ultimately doomed.

Stephen Tennant, one of the central BYT figures

Elizabeth Ponsonby another central BYT
The small window between the world wars was where the Bright Young Things burned brightest until eventually they and their short-lived era burnt out. They rebelled against their parents, society's formality and raged against the hangover of guilt from The Great War. They lived shamelessly for pleasure and created it in all manners of excess.

It was the birth of celebrity and the documentary rightly draws parallels between the bright young figures then and our current tabloid regulars. Many of them, when short on funds, would write 'insider insight' columns for various papers about their infamous parties, the 'scavenger hunts' and their various scandals when it suited them and their empty purses.

It was fascinating, so much so that my reading list has new additions;
Vile Bodies - Evelyn Waugh
Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford
Cecil Beaton: The Authorised Biography - Hugo Vickers

"Manners are especially the need of the plain. The pretty can get away with anything. "
-Evelyn Waugh

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