Who were the Lost Girls? All coming from broken or failed Upper-middle Class families; the Lost Girls were all chic, glamorous, and bohemian, as likely to be found living in a rat-haunted maisonette as dining at the Ritz, Lys Lubbock, Sonia Brownell, Barbara Skelton, and Janetta Parlade cut a swath through English literary and artistic life at the height of World War II.
Three of them had affairs with Lucian Freud. One of them married George Orwell. Another became for a short time the mistress of the King of Egypt. They had very different―and sometimes explosive―personalities, but taken together they form a distinctive part of the wartime demographic: bright, beautiful, independent-minded women with tough upbringings who were determined to make the most of their lives in a chaotic time. Ranging from Bloomsbury and Soho to Cairo and the couture studios of Schiaparelli and Hartnell, the Lost Girls would inspire the work of George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, and Nancy Mitford.
In his new book The Lost Girls: Love and Literature in Wartime London
(Pegasus Books, 2020), D. J. Taylor
, the author of the Prose Factory
and an award winning biography of George Orwell, shows the reader how these four adventuresome young ladies were the missing link between the Lost Generation and Bright Young People and the Dionysiac cultural revolution of the 1960s. Sweeping, passionate, and unexpectedly poignant, this is their untold story. A must read for anyone interested in the history of the 20th century English literary Intelligentsia.
Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.