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225 × 145 × 25 mm
296 pages
47 illustrations
01 Aug 2017

Lost Girls The Invention of the Flapper Linda Simon

In the glorious, boozy party after the First World War, a new being burst defiantly onto the world stage: the ‘flapper’. Young, impetuous and flirtatious, she was an alluring, controversial figure, celebrated in movies, fiction, plays and the pages of fashion magazines. But, as this book argues, she didn’t appear out of nowhere. This spirited history presents a fresh look at the reality of young women’s experiences in America and Britain from the 1890s to the 1920s, when the ‘modern’ girl emerged.
Lost Girls is a story of youth derided and fetishized; of ageing viscerally feared. It is a story of a culture beset by anxiety about adolescent girls. And it is a story of young women trying to shape their own identity amidst contradictory theories of adolescence and sexuality, the politics of suffrage, and the popular fiction, theatre, cinema and dance hall crazes of the time. Linda Simon shows us how the modern girl bravely created a culture, a look and a future of her own.
Lost Girls is an illuminating history of the iconic flapper as she evolved from a problem to a temptation, and finally, in the 1920s and beyond, to an aspiration.

‘To read Linda Simon’s social and literary history of flappers is to feel . . . the relief of the loosening of corsets, the excitement of the shimmy and tango in the dance hall, the thrill of smoking, the bliss of escape from detested chaperoning rules and the swooning effect of watching Rudolph Valentino on the silent screen’ — The Times

‘Social anxieties have a way of coalescing around young women's bodies, Linda Simon demonstrates in Lost Girls, her riveting, deeply-researched counter-history of the flapper. Behind the beads, the bob, the fringe, and the Charleston, there is a much darker story to be told.’ — Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London

Lost Girls finds an irresistible history of many girls. They longed to be modern, New Women, and in the Jazz Age, transgressive flappers. They wanted to dance, go to the movies, dress freely, work, be independent, and even vote. Arrayed against them were parents, scientists, politicians, and an imprisoning cult of motherhood. Linda Simon, with verve and wit and eloquence, shows us their battles, scars, and victories – a vibrant legacy for the 21st century.’ — Catharine R. Stimpson, University Professor, New York University

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Linda Simon is Professor Emerita of English at Skidmore College, New York. Her many books include Coco Chanel (Reaktion, 2011) and The Greatest Shows on Earth: A History of the Circus (Reaktion, 2014).


1 Angelfish

2 Daughters Revolt

3 The Happy Boy

4 Private Lives

5 Bodies in Motion

6 A Culture of Their Own

7 Votes for Flappers

8 The Age of the Girl

9 The Flapper Paramount




Photo Acknowledgements