The First World War to the Bright Young Things
This room presents two eras: the First World War and the 1920s. The First World War (1914–1918) began as a conflict in southeastern Europe but became a global struggle between European empires. It claimed over 16 million lives, a scale of loss still difficult to comprehend. The war involved and impacted people from all walks of life, as reflected in these portraits. Representing statesmen, soldiers, nurses, munitions workers and artists, they range from grand commemorative scenes to small photographic postcards. After the war, there were dramatic innovations in the arts and technology, and by 1928 women had achieved equal voting rights. A group of socialites known as the Bright Young Things epitomised the decadence of the ‘roaring twenties’, but there was also political instability and mass unemployment, leading to the General Strike of 1926.