RESEARCHERS from the University of York will reveal the secrets of an enigmatic set of paintings in a talk this month.

Francesca Taylor and Kerstin Doble from the university’s Borthwick Institute for Archives will give a talk on March 12 to reveal the identities of a former Aero Girl and talented descendants of Aero Girls, who featured in an iconic advertising campaign for the famous chocolate bar.

The pictures, which were known for a long while just as Anna, Wendy or even Untitled, helped sell millions of Aero bars between 1951 and 1957, despite being painted in a world where television and photography had already taken over. Aero was marketed in the 1950s as “The chocolate for her”.

Francesca said: “When we started the project, we weren’t even sure if the Aero Girls were real women. There’s so much human interest behind these portraits – the stories we’ve collected touch on art, social history, fashion, the changing role of women, even the Profumo Affair.”

Frederick Deane is the last living Aero Girl artist, and Kerstin and Francesca managed to track him down, providing a new set of leads that brought about these latest revelations.

Kerstin said: “We’ve been amazed at the stories that have come to light. People have been very generous in helping us piece the puzzle together and meeting Frederick Deane and several of the models from the paintings has really been an unexpected pleasure.”

Drusilla Gabbott and Virginia Ironside are both daughters of Aero Girls and will attend the talk at the Rowntree Park Reading Café.

Drusilla believes her father painted her mother as an Aero Girl to save on hiring an artists’ model, while Virginia has written a book about her relationship with her Aero Girl mother, called Janey and Me.

The talk, Who Were The Aero Girls? takes place from 7pm to 8.30pm on Thursday, March 13, at Rowntree Park Reading Café, Richardson Street, York. Tickets, priced at £5, are available online at, or from Explore York Library, phone 01904 552828.