Rakish Icons: The Bright Young Things

In 1930s London, a group of Bohemian and aristocratic socialites came to be known as ‘The Bright Young Things’ or ‘The Bright Young People’ by the British tabloid press. Their flamboyant parties, romantic escapades, and their interest in American jazz held the public imagination, and within their number, some of the greatest artists and commentators of their generation.
The Bright Young Things at Wilsford, 1927.

Writers Nancy Mitford, John Betjeman, Evelyn Waugh, and the famous photographer Cecil Beaton (who began his career documenting the set) were among the most influential members—and their extravagant lifestyles and sense of care-freejoie de vivrestill resonates with creative circles today. One only has to look at present Mayfair and Marylebone: the same members clubs and hotel bars that welcomed this pre-Jetset crowd still draw in the new socialite circles, vying to discover their magic. The Connaught, the Ritz, and the Savoy played host to their evenings of champagne-driven decadence—fuelling the public’s fascination with their exploits. One of these was their late-night treasure hunts throughout London, with a standout headline reading: ‘Chasing Clue is Latest Pass time for Young People’, followed by the snarky, ‘Society has been formed for the purpose of solving mysteries’.


October 2022


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