In my vociferous quest for vintage postcards I have often happened upon images of ‘The Dare Sisters’. It seems like every household in Edwardian England was once littered with these images, so frequently do they occur in antique shops and car boot sales.
Of the two girls Zena (pictured above) appears to have been the most famous and celebrated, postcards of her sister Phyllis (pictured below) are slightly more uncommon.
For many years I could find no information about these two women and often, during my frequent periods of lassitude, I meditated on the mystery of these images and the melancholia of decontextualised celebrity.
Now thanks to ‘The Internet’ I have discovered the truth.
Every now and then I google the girls to no avail, sometimes there’s someone selling one of their images on ebay, but their biographies have remained an enigma. Now thanks to two brief but helpful Wikipedia entries the ladies have been thoroughly demystified.
The Dare sisters were indeed the toast of the Edwardian music halls, staring in musical comedies with delicious titles such as ‘Lady Madcap’. As far as I can gather they can also claim to be the Kardashians of their period, associating with the likes of Noel Coward and Ivor Novello and both marrying into Aristocracy. Zena was a child star with Phyllis picking up her dropped roles and generally following in her wake.
As enlightening as all this is, I can’t help wishing I hadn’t found all this out. It is depressingly similar to what I might already have reasonably inferred, and its entirely robbed the images of their meditative value.
Oh well, at least I can still avoid googling Mrs Vernon Castle.