This is an attempt to chronicle my investigation into the issues surrounding the trial for murder of Elvira Barney. The case, a cause celebre in its day, is now largely remembered for two factors only. Firstly, in criminal history, as the victory of a masterful defence speech over the apparently overwhelming evidence for the prosecution – basically Elvira got away with murder thanks to the genius of Patrick Hastings; secondly, as a symbolic final curtain on the era of “The Bright Young Things”. This is most recently stated in D.J.Taylor’s excellent “Bright Young People”. Elvira Barney herself is seen as a peripheral figure. I want to focus on the events surrounding the case, the attendants at the infamous cocktail party that preceded the “murder” and various associative chains that spin out from that party. In doing so I want to shed some light on the extreme fringes of the “Smart Set” of the era and show that the “World of Elvira Barney” was more central to any discussion of the period than has hitherto been thought
On 30th May 1932 at 21, William Mews near Lowndes Square Elvira Barney held a cocktail party.Between 25 and 35 people attended and came and went from 6.30 to 8.30. Because of police records it is possible to identify many of the guests.
Michael Scott Stephen
Denys Skeffington Smyth
Irene Mac Brayne
Milton surname unknown
I will add profiles of as many of the guests as possible and also some speculations about who else might have been there and the people who probably weren’t there but were thought at the time to have attended.