The Ballerina Girl Of Balsall Heath

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Ballerina Girl (left) with her sister Wendy (right).

Here at Jammy Toast we love old black and white photographs and indeed, in the past, we have featured pictures by our favourite photographer, Shirley Baker. Over the weekend we found a collection of photographs taken by an American student by the name of Janet Mendelsohn. Janet studied at the University of Birmingham between 1967 and 1969 and while she was over here she photographed the streets of Balsall Heath for a photo-essay on inner-city life. During the late 1960s Balsall Heath was Birmingham’s largest red light district, a place of work for some hundreds of prostitutes. Mendelsohn provides an extraordinary insight into these women’s lives, their domestic arrangements and personal relationships as well as the nature of their profession. However, one photograph stands out amongst all the others; it is of a little girl who became known as The Ballerina Girl of Balsall Heath.