Bright Young People and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Trade in Yours
For a £0.75 Gift Card
Trade in
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Bright Young People on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918-1940 [Hardcover]

D J Taylor
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £4.68  
Hardcover --  
Paperback £9.98  
Unknown Binding --  
Trade In this Item for up to £0.75
Trade in Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918-1940 for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £0.75, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Book Description

4 Oct 2007

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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Edition edition (4 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701177543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701177546
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.1 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 642,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


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


`his engaging portrait of another age' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright Young Bohemians 12 July 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant anatomy of 'the Bright Brigade' - that generation of eccentric, aristocratic and moneyed young men and women who partied their lives away with such determined frivolity in the decade and a half after the Great War before the Depression, Fascism and another looming international conflict was to bring them crashing back down to earth. The book is extremely well researched and beautifully written, as one would expect given that the author is both a distinguished biographer (of Orwell and Thackeray) and a fine novelist. But what really struck me was the fact that Taylor is not in the least judgemental about these brittle young Bohemeians and their silly escapades. Instead of showing them to be dissolute and unsympathetic he reveals the sense of melancholy and futility that lay beneath their lives with the unceasing round of parties and 'amusing' entertainments. More importantly Taylor reveals the literary legacy that this lost generation has left behind, notably in the novels of Waugh, Powell and Nancy Mitford. If you're interested in the glamorous and eccentric personalities of the 1920s and early 30s then this excellent book is for you.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portraits from an age of parties 24 Jan 2009
Throughout much of the 1920s, Londoners had a front-row seat to the antics of a small group of socialites about town. These young men and women staged lavish parties, disrupted activities with scavenger hunts and other stunts, and provided fodder for gossip columnists and cartoonists. This group, dubbed the 'Bright Young People,' was fictionalized in novels, recounted in memoirs, and is now the subject of D. J. Taylor's collective history of their group.

An accomplished author, Taylor provides an entertaining account of the group. He describes its members - which included such people as Stephen Tennant, Elizabeth Ponsonby, Brian Howard, Bryan Guinness, and Diana Mitford - and the antics that often attracted so much attention. Yet his scope is also broadened to include people such as Cecil Beaton and Evelyn Waugh, socially on the fringe of the group and yet important figures whose interactions with them prove highly revealing. Through their works and the sometimes obsessive coverage they received on the society pages he reconstructs the relationships and the events that captivated the public's attention.

From all of this emerges a portrait of a phenomenon that was in many ways a unique product of its time. In the aftermath of the demographic devastation of the First World War, the 1920s was a decade that saw the celebration of youth, all of whom grew up in the shadow of a conflict that was the dominant experience of men and women just a few years older than them. The survivors lived in a world where the older generations were discredited and traditional social structures faced increasing economic pressures.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Times 14 Dec 2007
By Mrs. R.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If we think that it's a new thing, the way that the gutter press and gossip mags now are obsessed with celebrity, we're wrong. The Bright Young People were there first. I bought this book after reading a review, because I'm interested in one particular person in one particular photograph. I found it enlightening and amusing. The Bright Young People that Taylor writes about were few; no doubt a lot of hangers on described themselves as Bright Young People during and after the event, but this book is about the epicentre, the small group of partygoers who started the trend then either took a back seat, left the country or were destroyed by it. The book concentrates on the essence of the movement, if that's what it was, the people at the heart of it, actual events and the people the newspapers wrote about. It doesn't truly describe a whole generation, just the ones who defined it and the waves they made.
Reading about them, I can see the influence they had on my working class, northern great aunt who gave up a good job as a cook to train as a secretary in London so she could go out dancing in the 1920s. She must have read about them in the press and wanted a part of it. She went on to run the factory that made rivets for Spitfires, then to help at a refugee camp in Italy, spoke four languages and judged dogs at Crufts. The Bright Young People seem to have unleashed a spirit of defiance of convention that spread amongst their generation then was crushed by mid century hardship and censorship. It makes me want to reread Waugh and watch Stephen Fry's Bright Young Things with a better understanding of their list of players.
There have always been upper class scoundrels, fritterers, debtors, drunks, sluts and fallen angels; for me, the way the press and contemporary novelists documented this particular group has the most relevance to present times.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a thoughtful view 14 Nov 2007
By Ms Toad
I really enjoyed this book, which uses a large amount of original material - letters, diaries of the subjects and their families, as well as more public sources, to discuss this flamboyant and often tragic group in a very sensitive and thoughtful manner, with a good idea of the contemporary context and how this changed with the 1930s. Nice use of language, with something of a flavour of the times.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Was this review helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars 1920s hedonism
This is a fascinating study of the amorphous body of brittle, peacock-brilliant hedonists who in the 1920s came to be known as the bright young people. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Douglas Kemp
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect condition, and it had a free surprize dvd ...
This book arrived this afternoon, perfect condition, and it had a free surprize dvd inside, really happy thanks.
Published 13 days ago by Coco star
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good fast delivery. very pleased.
Published 2 months ago by c manners
3.0 out of 5 stars ... (what a concept) period - not one of my favourite summaries of the...
Read to foster my interest in the between-the-wars (what a concept) period - not one of my favourite summaries of the era, worth reading for some side-lights on individuals... Read more
Published 3 months ago by C. M. Drazin
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting,for people who like the 1920's.
Although keeping up with the cast of characters can be a bit confusing and pondersome at times, I like this book very much. Read more
Published 5 months ago by D. Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for anyone interested in the era of the "Bright Young...
I thoroughly enjoyed this moving and informative account of the 1920s British band of pleasure-seeking bohemians and blue blooded socialites that comprised the "Bright Young... Read more
Published 9 months ago by nigeyb
4.0 out of 5 stars fast paced and omformatibe
I love the 20 ssoeadreally looking forward to this book Audi as?not disappointed very well written and moving the people we've portrayed honestlywith sensitivity I loved it
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this book
I enjoyed reading this book especially as I am particularly interested in this period of time 20s 30s and 40s. And this book gives a very good insight into this period of history.
Published 16 months ago by Jackie Fage
4.0 out of 5 stars For those interested in the period 1900-1940
I bought this on the basis of a television programme I saw and D.J. Taylor was one of those narrating. Well researched and written. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Fogerty
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and Tedious People
Despite the title, I found the people described very dull and tedious, leading repetitive and pointless lives. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mr. M. Parker
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category