Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation

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Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation

by Judith Mackrell

Farrar, Straus And Giroux | January 14, 2014 | Hardcover

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By the 1920s, women were on the verge of something huge. Jazz, racy fashions, eyebrowraising new attitudes about art and sex-all of this pointed to a sleek, modern world, one that could shake off the grimness of the Great War and stride into the future in one deft, stylized gesture. The women who defined this the Jazz Age-Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Tamara de Lempicka-would presage the sexual revolution by nearly half a century and would shape the role of women for generations to come.

In Flappers, the acclaimed biographer Judith Mackrell renders these women with all the color that marked their lives and their era. Both sensuous and sympathetic, her admiring biography lays bare the private lives of her heroines, filling in the bold contours. These women came from vastly different backgrounds, but all ended up passing through Paris, the mecca of the avant-garde. Before she was the toast of Parisian society, Josephine Baker was a poor black girl from the slums of Saint Louis. Tamara de Lempicka fled the Russian Revolution only to struggle to scrape together a life for herself and her family. A committed painter, her portraits were indicative of the age's art deco sensibility and sexual daring. The Brits in the group-Nancy Cunard and Diana Cooper- came from pinkie-raising aristocratic families but soon descended into the salacious delights of the vanguard. Tallulah Bankhead and Zelda Fitzgerald were two Alabama girls driven across the Atlantic by a thirst for adventure and artistic validation.

But beneath the flamboyance and excess of the Roaring Twenties lay age-old prejudices about gender, race, and sexuality. These flappers weren't just dancing and carousing; they were fighting for recognition and dignity in a male-dominated world. They were more than mere lovers or muses to the modernist masters-in their pursuit of fame and intense experience, we see a generation of women taking bold steps toward something burgeoning, undefined, maybe dangerous: a New Woman.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 512 pages, 9.18 × 6.43 × 1.72 in

Published: January 14, 2014

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374156085

ISBN - 13: 9780374156084

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– More About This Product –

Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation

by Judith Mackrell

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 512 pages, 9.18 × 6.43 × 1.72 in

Published: January 14, 2014

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374156085

ISBN - 13: 9780374156084

Read from the Book

Chapter One   DIANA     Two months after Britain went to war against Germany Lady Diana Manners was being chauffeured across London towards Guy’s Hospital and her new vocation as a volunteer nurse. It was barely four miles from her family’s Mayfair home to the hospital in Southwark, yet Diana was conscious that, to her distraught mother sitting in the car beside her, it was a journey into the wilderness. During tearfully protracted arguments Diana had tried to convince her mother that enlisting as a VAD (member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment) was not a lone, wilful act. Among the thousands of women who were queuing to serve their country, a number were Diana’s own friends, and some were volunteering for much more arduous duties: driving ambulances, working in munitions factories or nursing at the Front. Yet to the Duchess of Rutland, the idea of her daughter working in one of London’s public hospitals, making tea and washing patients, was barely less squalid than her volunteering to walk the streets as a prostitute. As the family Rolls-Royce crossed Southwark Bridge and began to nose its way through grimy cobbled streets, jostled by crowds, assailed by smells from the docks and from the piles of festering rubbish, the Duchess’s worst fears seemed justified. Years later Diana could still recall the detail of that stiff, silent drive. The dark drizzle spattering against the car’s windscreen; the stricken expression on her moth
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From the Publisher

By the 1920s, women were on the verge of something huge. Jazz, racy fashions, eyebrowraising new attitudes about art and sex-all of this pointed to a sleek, modern world, one that could shake off the grimness of the Great War and stride into the future in one deft, stylized gesture. The women who defined this the Jazz Age-Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Tamara de Lempicka-would presage the sexual revolution by nearly half a century and would shape the role of women for generations to come.

In Flappers, the acclaimed biographer Judith Mackrell renders these women with all the color that marked their lives and their era. Both sensuous and sympathetic, her admiring biography lays bare the private lives of her heroines, filling in the bold contours. These women came from vastly different backgrounds, but all ended up passing through Paris, the mecca of the avant-garde. Before she was the toast of Parisian society, Josephine Baker was a poor black girl from the slums of Saint Louis. Tamara de Lempicka fled the Russian Revolution only to struggle to scrape together a life for herself and her family. A committed painter, her portraits were indicative of the age's art deco sensibility and sexual daring. The Brits in the group-Nancy Cunard and Diana Cooper- came from pinkie-raising aristocratic families but soon descended into the salacious delights of the vanguard. Tallulah Bankhead and Zelda Fitzgerald were two Alabama girls driven across the Atlantic by a thirst for adventure and artistic validation.

But beneath the flamboyance and excess of the Roaring Twenties lay age-old prejudices about gender, race, and sexuality. These flappers weren't just dancing and carousing; they were fighting for recognition and dignity in a male-dominated world. They were more than mere lovers or muses to the modernist masters-in their pursuit of fame and intense experience, we see a generation of women taking bold steps toward something burgeoning, undefined, maybe dangerous: a New Woman.

About the Author

Judith Mackrell is a celebrated dance critic, writing first for The Independent and now for The Guardian. Her biography of the Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, Bloomsbury Ballerina, was short-listed for the Costa Biography Award. She has also appeared on television and radio, and is the coauthor of The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. She lives in London with her family.

Editorial Reviews

"Mackrell, a dance critic, loves a romp, and tales of her high-flying subjects lose none of their adrenaline in the retelling. Her writing is bright and nimble, but she’s also astute enough to delve beyond the flash and dazzle, the public illusions cast to hide private insecurity, pain and frustration…" –Jessica Kerwin Jenkins, The New York Times Book Review "Judith Mackrell''s Flappers is a juicy, energetic exploration of six dazzling iconoclasts who all flared to fame in the Roaring ''20s. . . Flappers reminds us of the enormous, lasting cultural impact of gutsy, vibrant women who managed to shine in unexpected ways. In jumping between six dishy, hyper-charged, often frenetic life stories in one lively volume, Mackrell not only captures ‘the restlessness of a generation’ — she does so in a fast-paced, no-holds-barred form particularly well suited to the restlessness of this generation." —Heller McAlpin, Los Angeles Times "The book is beautifully structured. . . [a] reader-friendly history, adorned with fascinating details. . . Ms. Mackrell doesn''t force theories. She lays out the lives with a deft strategy of parallels and overlaps so that connections and comparisons float up."—Laura Jacobs, Wall Street Journal "Sprawling and addictive. . ."—Anne Helen Petersen, Slate "This spellbinding group biography tells the stories — sometimes independent, often intertwined — of six women of the 1920s who epitomized the
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