When Manchester roared
The North embraced the freedom and hedonism of the 1920s, but with a bit more social conscience
By David Barnett
In February 1920, the Manchester Evening News reported on a troubling trend in British society. A new brand of young women was on the loose: “The frivolous, scantily-clad, jazzing flapper, irresponsible and undisciplined.”
That wasn’t the newspaper’s description — it came from a lecture given by Dr R. Murray-Leslie, who wanted to draw attention to a demographic imbalance created by the deaths of so many young men in the Great War. The country had “1,000,000 excess females of reproductive age,” and they were causing havoc.
As the report of the lecture in The Times put it, the young women “compete with each other for the elusive male, striving by means of dress, or the lack of it, to appeal to man’s lower nature instead of exercising the power to elevate his ideals.” It added: “Young men had dance invitations four and five deep and our boys and young men were being spoilt before our eyes.”
Welcome to the Roaring Twenties, and the concerns of a very different society, 101…
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