Flirting, Engagement, Weddings & Divorce in 1920s High Society. By Fish

Jul 16, 2023 | 1910, 1920s, Anne Fish, Illustration, Trends, Vanity Fair

On the Trail of a Wife . Art Anne Fish 1920,. High Society, pages 24-25 Detours on the Road to Matrimony.

Detail from “Another Blow” from the plate: On the Trail of a Wife. Detours on the Road to Matrimony.

A Pictorial Guide to Life in Upper Circles.


This is the second story about Anne Fish’s work documenting and satirizing High Society at the turn of 1920.
The double-page plates were first published in Vanity Fair between 1914 and 1920 and then re-published in the splendid book “High Society. Hints on how to Attain, Relish – and Survive It. A Pictorial Guide to Life in our Upper Circles.”, published in December 1920.

Any double-page plate focuses on a specific topic providing a unique, rich lens into American and international high society’s lifestyles of the 1910s and 1920s. Rigorously in black and white, these inimitable sketches are completed with entertaining captions.
We grouped the plates into six sections, each on a main topic. This first one is on “Flirting, Engagement, Wedding & Divorce.
Index to High Society 1920s Stories.

Advice to the Lovelorn. Art Anne Fish 1920, Text by Dorothy Parker - High Society, pages 40-41 What Every Girl Should Know, Before Choosing a Husband   Initially published in Vanity Fair, May 1919

Advice to the Lovelorn.
What Every Girl Should Know, Before Choosing a Husband.
Initially published in Vanity Fair, May 1919.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

LE PREMIER PAS.
The love interest really must come into the life of every young girl. There’s no use talking, she simply can’t get along without it. Her mother may weep, and her father may become dramatic about it, but a girl should remember that choosing a husband is the first step that counts in matrimony. After a girl has once been married, a second, third or even a fourth husband are simple matters. It’s the first one that’s tricky. Getting a husband is rather like getting the olives out of a bottle — after you get the first one, the rest come easily.

TOPIC LIST:

BEWARE THE SOCIETY FAVORITE
BEWARE THE MODERNIST POET
THE FUTURIST—WITH A PAST
WITH THIS RING
THE RIGHT MAN—AT LAST

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

LE PREMIER PAS.
The love interest really must come into the life of every young girl. There’s no use talking, she simply can’t get along without it. Her mother may weep, and her father may become dramatic about it, but a girl should remember that choosing a husband is the first step that counts in matrimony. After a girl has once been married, a second, third or even a fourth husband are simple matters. It’s the first one that’s tricky. Getting a husband is rather like getting the olives out of a bottle — after you get the first one, the rest come easily.

TOPIC LIST:

BEWARE THE SOCIETY FAVORITE
BEWARE THE MODERNIST POET
THE FUTURIST—WITH A PAST
WITH THIS RING
THE RIGHT MAN—AT LAST

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

The Throes of First Love, in Society. Art Anne Fish 1920, Text by Dorothy Parker - High Society, pages 30-31 A Few Fashionable Little Variations on the Oldest Theme in the World

The Throes of First Love, in Society.
A Few Fashionable Little Variations on the Oldest Theme in the World.
Text by Dorothy Parker. Initially published in Vanity Fair, March 1920.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

THE AWAKENING TO SPRING.

If you are at all interested in tracing the love interest back to its very beginnings, all you have to do is to visit the nearest park, any bright Spring morning. Little scenes like this are going on all over the place; any member of the younger set, between the ages of two and five, can give you all the information you may require on just how wonderful nature really is. There is only one difference between love and any other contagious disease: once you have had the other disease, you are immune from a second attack.

TOPIC LIST:

HAIL, THE CONQUERING HERO!
THE PROFESSIONAL SIREN.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.
THE DANGEROUS DÉBUTANTE.
FIRST LOVE—THE NOBLE THEATRICAL GOD.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

THE AWAKENING TO SPRING.

If you are at all interested in tracing the love interest back to its very beginnings, all you have to do is to visit the nearest park, any bright Spring morning. Little scenes like this are going on all over the place; any member of the younger set, between the ages of two and five, can give you all the information you may require on just how wonderful nature really is. There is only one difference between love and any other contagious disease: once you have had the other disease, you are immune from a second attack.

TOPIC LIST:

HAIL, THE CONQUERING HERO!
THE PROFESSIONAL SIREN.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.
THE DANGEROUS DÉBUTANTE.
FIRST LOVE—THE NOBLE THEATRICAL GOD.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

The Strategy and Finesse of Proposing. Art Anne Fish 1920 - High Society, pages 60-61 Advance Leaves from the 1921 Handbook of Courtship.

The Strategy and Finesse of Proposing.
Advance Leaves from the 1921 Handbook of Courtship.
Text by Dorothy Parker. Initially published in Vanity Fair, January 1917.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

THE PROPOSAL BY TELEPHONE

In a great progressive city like ours, especially with stocks jumping up about five points a day — you can’t very well expect a chap to leave the stock-ticker in his club or in his café, trot up to the social z-one and loaf round a girl’s house all day. And that merely to propose to her as soon as she has — at the end of an hour or so — consented to dress and give her hair and complexion the careful treatment which she always has to give them when she receives visitors. This is a very busy little world and a proposal over the wire often saves an immense amount of time — and sometimes two or three points margin at your brokers’. So, wherever she is, telephone! Don’t waste time. Call her up anywhere, even in her bedroom. This little sketch shows the delightfully intimate relationship which is sometimes established between the dining-room at a man’s Club and the bathing pavilion contiguous to a lady’s sleeping room. It was a scene such as this that inspired the composer who in a moment of supreme inspiration, wrote that lyrical gem entitled “Hullo, Central, Give Me Heaven.” In proposing by telephone, it is of course just as well to get the right girl on the wire. A friend of ours recently became a trifle confused — after being accepted by a female voice, to learn that the houri at the other end of the telephone was no less a dignitary than his lady-love’s maiden aunt.

TOPIC LIST:

THE PROPOSAL BY LETTER.
THE PROPOSAL TERPSICHOREAN.
THE PROPOSAL, A LA PASHA.
THE PROPOSAL BY TELEPHONE.
THE PROPOSAL BY PHONOGRAPH LANDED AT LAST.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

THE PROPOSAL BY TELEPHONE

In a great progressive city like ours, especially with stocks jumping up about five points a day — you can’t very well expect a chap to leave the stock-ticker in his club or in his café, trot up to the social z-one and loaf round a girl’s house all day. And that merely to propose to her as soon as she has — at the end of an hour or so — consented to dress and give her hair and complexion the careful treatment which she always has to give them when she receives visitors. This is a very busy little world and a proposal over the wire often saves an immense amount of time — and sometimes two or three points margin at your brokers’. So, wherever she is, telephone! Don’t waste time. Call her up anywhere, even in her bedroom. This little sketch shows the delightfully intimate relationship which is sometimes established between the dining-room at a man’s Club and the bathing pavilion contiguous to a lady’s sleeping room. It was a scene such as this that inspired the composer who in a moment of supreme inspiration, wrote that lyrical gem entitled “Hullo, Central, Give Me Heaven.” In proposing by telephone, it is of course just as well to get the right girl on the wire. A friend of ours recently became a trifle confused — after being accepted by a female voice, to learn that the houri at the other end of the telephone was no less a dignitary than his lady-love’s maiden aunt.

TOPIC LIST:

THE PROPOSAL BY LETTER.
THE PROPOSAL TERPSICHOREAN.
THE PROPOSAL, A LA PASHA.
THE PROPOSAL BY TELEPHONE.
THE PROPOSAL BY PHONOGRAPH LANDED AT LAST.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

On the Trail of a Wife. Art Anne Fish 1920. High Society, pages 24-25. Detours on the Road to Matrimony

On the Trail of a Wife.
Detours on the Road to Matrimony.
Text by Dorothy Parker. Initially published in Vanity Fair, December 1919.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

THE SAD CASE OF PEGGY.

And then there was Peggy. Really, he couldn’t have found a more perfect helpmate than Peggy — civil to her parents, pleasant to have around a bridge table, fond of children and potted plants. Nothing could have been sweeter — until she took him out motoring. He is here registering a silent vow that if he ever gets home all in one piece, he will never permit himself to so much as gaze upon his adorable little Peggy again.

TOPIC LIST:

ENTER THE HERO.
THE SECOND ENTRY.
EXHIBIT C.
THE ORDEAL BY AIR.
THE SAD CASE OF PEGGY.
THE BITTER END.
ANOTHER BLOW.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

THE SAD CASE OF PEGGY.

And then there was Peggy. Really, he couldn’t have found a more perfect helpmate than Peggy — civil to her parents, pleasant to have around a bridge table, fond of children and potted plants. Nothing could have been sweeter — until she took him out motoring. He is here registering a silent vow that if he ever gets home all in one piece, he will never permit himself to so much as gaze upon his adorable little Peggy again.

TOPIC LIST:

ENTER THE HERO.
THE SECOND ENTRY.
EXHIBIT C.
THE ORDEAL BY AIR.
THE SAD CASE OF PEGGY.
THE BITTER END.
ANOTHER BLOW.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

Hints on Honeymoons For the Very Rich, from “High Society”, pages 10-11. By Anne Fish 1920 How to Make a Smart Honeymoon — Comparatively Speaking — Agreeable Initially published in Vanity Fair, May 1917 with title A LITTLE HONEYMOON IS A DANGEROUS THING

Hints on Honeymoons — For the Very Rich.
How to Make a Smart Honeymoon — Comparatively Speaking — Agreeable.
Initially published in Vanity Fair, May 1917 with title “A Little Honeymoon — Comparatively Speaking — Agreeable.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

ALONE, AT LAST.

The moment in the honeymoon, which is pictured below, is technically known as the enfin seuls. The parents have been banished, the best man is still in wine; the bridemaids are at the photographer’s, the footmen have gone to chase up the entree, and the lovers are at last alone with their J-HOY. What a blissful moment! Six months later a moment like this is a bit of a bore. Any third person then, even a dun from the tailor, would be welcome, for love, alas, is like caviare; a little indigestible— unless consumed in very small portions.

TOPIC LIST:

PEACE HATH HER VICTORIES.
THE COTTAGE OF DREAMS.
ALONE, AT LAST.
WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE.
THE EXPRESS TO EDEN.
AMOUR DE VOYAGE.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

ALONE, AT LAST.

The moment in the honeymoon, which is pictured below, is technically known as the enfin seuls. The parents have been banished, the best man is still in wine; the bridemaids are at the photographer’s, the footmen have gone to chase up the entree, and the lovers are at last alone with their J-HOY. What a blissful moment! Six months later a moment like this is a bit of a bore. Any third person then, even a dun from the tailor, would be welcome, for love, alas, is like caviare; a little indigestible— unless consumed in very small portions.

TOPIC LIST:

PEACE HATH HER VICTORIES.
THE COTTAGE OF DREAMS.
ALONE, AT LAST.
WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE.
THE EXPRESS TO EDEN.
AMOUR DE VOYAGE.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

When Marriage Is a Failure Cherchez la Femme. Art Anne Fish 1920, Text by Dorothy Parker - High Society, pages 50-51 Have You a Little Failure In Your Home?

When Marriage Is a Failure Cherchez la Femme.
Have You a Little Failure In Your Home?
Initially published in Vanity Fair, November 1916.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

A CATALOGUE OF WIVES.

There are only six kinds of wives. They are all shown on these two pages, but only one of them can be — on a crossed heart- warmly recommended. Fortunately marriage — which is at best but a primitive substitute for friendship — is becoming less and less fashionable, so that every year fewer of our young society leaders are sacrificed on the wedding pyre. This is especially true among clever people. And now, reader, here is our first exhibit in wives, a very terrible kind, to be sure. She is known as the DEVOTED wife. She loves — and watches out for — her husband, especially in the early morning hours. Note the restraint exercised by our artist in refusing to introduce a cuckoo clock, a device usually inevitable in pictures of this kind.

TOPIC LIST:

A CATALOGUE OF WIVES.
THE LAPLAND MODEL.
THE SECRET SOLVED.
THE SENSITIVE WIFE.
THE “DRESSY” WIFE.
THE HUMAN BANK ACCOUNT.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

A CATALOGUE OF WIVES.

There are only six kinds of wives. They are all shown on these two pages, but only one of them can be — on a crossed heart- warmly recommended. Fortunately marriage — which is at best but a primitive substitute for friendship — is becoming less and less fashionable, so that every year fewer of our young society leaders are sacrificed on the wedding pyre. This is especially true among clever people. And now, reader, here is our first exhibit in wives, a very terrible kind, to be sure. She is known as the DEVOTED wife. She loves — and watches out for — her husband, especially in the early morning hours. Note the restraint exercised by our artist in refusing to introduce a cuckoo clock, a device usually inevitable in pictures of this kind.

TOPIC LIST:

A CATALOGUE OF WIVES.
THE LAPLAND MODEL.
THE SECRET SOLVED.
THE SENSITIVE WIFE.
THE “DRESSY” WIFE.
THE HUMAN BANK ACCOUNT.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

Divorce: A Great Indoor Sport . Art Anne Fish 1920. High Society, pages 26-27 It is Beginning to Rank Among Our Fashionable and Popular Pastimes

Divorce: A Great Indoor Sport.
It is Beginning to Rank Among Our Fashionable and Popular Pastimes.
Texts by Dorothy Parker. Initially published in Vanity Fair, January 1920.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

THE DIVORCE SPECIAL.

Any time that you want to sec a bit of life, go to an American railway station and watch the outgoing trains to Nevada. Several ticket agents have to be constantly on duty in the window where both-way tickets to Reno are sold; one man couldn’t keep up with the rush of trade. A typical line at the ticket office is shown here-it is considered de rigueur for husbands to accompany their outgoing wives to the train. If you are contemplating a jaunt to the nation’s reconstruction center in the near future, it is a bit safer to book seats several weeks ahead.

TOPIC LIST:

THE ENDLESS CHAIN.
THE DAWN OF A NEW LIFE.
THE FLAW.
THE DIVORCE SPECIAL.
OLD HOME WEEK.
BACK TO THE START AGAIN.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

EXCERPT FROM THE CAPTIONS

THE DIVORCE SPECIAL.

Any time that you want to sec a bit of life, go to an American railway station and watch the outgoing trains to Nevada. Several ticket agents have to be constantly on duty in the window where both-way tickets to Reno are sold; one man couldn’t keep up with the rush of trade. A typical line at the ticket office is shown here-it is considered de rigueur for husbands to accompany their outgoing wives to the train. If you are contemplating a jaunt to the nation’s reconstruction center in the near future, it is a bit safer to book seats several weeks ahead.

TOPIC LIST:

THE ENDLESS CHAIN.
THE DAWN OF A NEW LIFE.
THE FLAW.
THE DIVORCE SPECIAL.
OLD HOME WEEK.
BACK TO THE START AGAIN.

The full text is available in the metadata of the hi-res file in the shop.

High Society 1920s Stories. Index

PUBLISHED:

American 1920s High Society’s lifestyles, as seen by Anne Fish
Flirting, Engagement, Wedding & Divorce.

COMING SOON:

1920s High Society's Social Events.
1920s High Society & Art.
1920s High Society's Weekends.
1920s High Society. Life Behind Aristocratic Doors.
1920s High Society. Sports and Leisure.
1910s High Society and World War I

Browse all "Anne Fish" Stories


Abdulla Cigarettes 1921. Mélisande at Montecarlo, by Anne Fish

Abdulla Cigarettes 1921. Mélisande at Montecarlo, by Anne Fish

The full 1921 Abdulla ad campaign in the French magazine “La Vie Parisienne.” The star is Mélisande, a wealthy, young, elegant, and beautiful Parisian who goes to Monte Carlo to try her luck at the casino. Here she meets an elegant Englishman who woos her and with whom she gets engaged and finally marries three days before New Year’s Eve; her life unfolds between suitors, losses, and wins at the table and a lifestyle of unbridled luxury.

read more

About Anne Fish.


Anne Harriet Fish Sifton Portrait 1915

Annie Harriet Fish Sefton (1890-1964) was a British cartoonist and illustrator. She is best known as "Fish," her maiden name, and how she signed her works.
In England, from 1914 to 1919, she illustrated for "The Tatler" a famous column, "The Letters of Eve."
From 1914 to 1932, she drew hundreds of striking cartoons for Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan in the US, showcasing her versatility and adaptability as an artist.
From 1919 to 1932, she drew eleven campaigns for Abdulla, published in French on "La Vie Parisienne" and in English on "Punch," "The Sketch," and "The Sphere."

Her books include High Society (1920), The Eve Book (1920), and Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1922).

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