What interests me about Elvira Barney and “Michael” Scott Stephen is their relationship to “The Bright Young People”. The people who visited Elvira’s mews flat were at the more outrageous end of what the press termed “The Smart Set”. Promiscuous, mostly gay, hard-drinking, habitues of night clubs in Soho, drug takers and generally with more money than sense they were also artists and actors and to some extent rebels.
Jocelyn Brooke acquired membership of the Blue Lantern in Ham Yard,Soho, at about the same time that Elvira and her circle frequented the place. Close friend Hugh Wade was the resident pianist there (as well as at the Blue Angel, visited on the night of the “incident”).
Brooke’s self-distancing and acerbic description of the clientele undoubtedly refers to Elvira’s crowd, “who belonged for the most part to the raffish fringes of that pseudo-smart Bohemia which was perhaps the most characteristic (and almost certainly the nastiest) social unit of the period.” (Brooke “Private View” (1954) p87) .
The surrounding tale “Gerald Brockhurst” gives an equally jaundiced but ultimately quite poignant picture of the period.Brooke’s villainness (Veriny Crighton-Jones) shares many of the characteristics of Elvira’s personality although her looks are completely different.
Jocelyn Brooke – 1940s?