August 1965 | Volume 16, Issue 5
In 1924 and 1925 Vanity Fair , the magazine which most reflected all that was bright and sophisticated in the Twenties, asked a group of famous literary and theatrical people to write their own epitaphs. This was thought a delightful idea, and some fifty celebrities duly wrote out the words they wanted on their tombstones. At the time, when almost all of those who responded were very young and gay and full of life, death seemed very far away indeed. But today the tongue-in-cheek epitaphs have a bittersweet quality about them. Vanity Fair itself was killed by the hard realities of the Depression, and one by one the writers have dropped away. Most of them now rest somewhere under real tombstones with words upon them, we may be certain, far less witty than these. But these ghostly jokes from people who added so much to the roar of the Twenties form a collective epitaph for the decade.