Winnie Minion – A Flapper

This young lady was a well-liked cousin of my aunts who were born in 1906 and 1910 respectively … judging by her clothing this photograph was taken in the twenties. Let’s say 1925 and that she was more or less contemporaneous with the aunts making her what, 15-20 when the picture was taken. *Before you ask, that family’s name really was Minion, many decades before those horrible yellow plastic pill-like creatures came on the scene.

And so … while it is unclear if she visited the Tykes of Utherdale, probably highly unlikely, someone in my family knew both families well enough for this portrait to have been in the archives that came down to me. What might young Winnie have been like?

We are talking here of the best part of 100 years ago, so I have resorted to the internet for some background. Quote:

The 1920s, also known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’, was a decade of contrasts. The First World War had ended in victory, peace had returned and with it, prosperity. For some the war had proved to be very profitable. Manufacturers and suppliers of goods needed for the war effort had prospered throughout the war years and become very rich. For the ‘Bright Young Things’ from the wealthier classes, life had never been better. Nightclubs, jazz clubs and cocktail bars flourished in the cities. The hedonistic lifestyle portrayed in books and films such as ‘The Great Gatsby’ was perhaps for some, an escape from reality. This generation had largely missed the war, being too young to fight, and perhaps there was a sense of guilt that they had escaped the horrors of war. Perhaps they felt a need to enjoy life to the full, because so many other young lives had been lost on the battlefields of Flanders.

The experiences during the War influenced British society, particularly women. During the war, many women had been employed in the factories, giving them a wage and therefore a certain degree of independence. Women over 30 had been given the vote in 1918, and by 1928 this had been extended to all women over the age of 21. Women felt more confident and empowered, and this new independence was reflected in the new fashions. Hair was shorter, dresses were shorter, and women started to smoke, drink and drive motorcars. The attractive, reckless, independent ‘flapper’ appeared on the scene, shocking society with her wild behaviour. Girl Power 1920s-style had arrived!

Not many amateur cameras back then and certainly nothing like today’s smartphone ability to snap anything that moves. For a young lady to have a formal portrait taken you were neatly coiffed, dressed up in your best bib and tucker and wheeled off to a professional photographic studio where you would be posed carefully with studio props. The cameras almost certainly were still using glass plates to make the negatives. The colour, such as it is here, was added by using the latest 2023 technology. I’ll bet young Winnie never had any idea how her original, sepia “likeness” would be viewed a century in the future.

One a series of posts presenting photographs found in a family album of a century ago using the conventions of “imaginative historic remembrance”.