Inspired by my time working at the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A Museum, and an interest in exploring the lives of lesser-known twentieth century figures – Imogen Lyons.
Scroll through the posts below to discover more!
Aged nineteen, Violette became the first woman to hold any official records at Brooklands race-track. She went on to set world-records in endurance trials throughout the 1920s and was the first woman to drive around the world. Her achievements won her the coveted Dewar Trophy twice and the nickname ‘The Queen of Motoring.’
Constance was a striking, flamboyant woman who was well-known in Britain and America during the 1900s and 1910s for her career as a barefoot classical dancer, an unheard of profession for a titled woman. Her revealing dance costumes caused uproar and she espoused unconventional views on children’s education.
Paddy Naismith was a stage and screen actress, a racing driver, a Labour party office holder and campaigner, a pilot, and Britain’s first air-hostess. Of Irish-Scottish parentage, she had a striking appearance with her red hair complemented by the green leather jacket and green overalls she wore when racing.
Little is known for certain about the dancing sisters’ background, but the tall, long-legged and blue-eyed young girls rose to fame in the late 1920s. Described in the press as graceful, enigmatic and charming, they danced in London at the Café de Paris, the Kit Kat Club, the Carlton Club and the Bat Club. The Prince of Wales was said to be a fan.
Marjorie began shooting at the age of eight at her home in Surrey. She began to pursue the sport more seriously in the mid-1920s and joined the South London Rifle Club, the only club that accepted women. The pinnacle of her sporting career came in 1930 when she became the first woman to win the prestigious King’s Prize at the National Rifle Championships at Bisley.
Lilian Mabel Roussell, known as ‘Mabs’, led a relatively normal life of privilege until the 1920s when she began to seek out a life of adventure. One newspaper described her as: ‘Rather diminutive, attractive, queer in her ways, she appeared quite capable of giving a pleasant tea-party, but hardly cut out for facing savages in the wilds of Central America. To Central America she went, for no other reason than that she wanted to go.’
Long forgotten now, there’s not a lot known about Buchanan, but his 1922-23 trip across the Sahara was widely covered in the British press giving him a brief period of fame. He brought back over 140 mammals that were gifted to the Natural History Museum. Eighteen of these were newly discovered species.