Midway between the Bennets of Longbourn and the Kardashians of everywhere there were the Mitford sisters; Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah. Born into the English aristocracy, the daughters of Lord and Lady Redesdale, their glamour and often outrageous behaviour amused then appalled English society in the turbulent decades of the mid-20th
Diana abandoned her husband Bryan Guinness to marry British fascist leader Oswald Mosley.
Unity “Boud” (conceived in the Canadian town Swastika) became a rabid Nazi and friend of Hitler.
Jessica “Decca” eloped, embraced Communism, moved to America and became a renowned journalist and civil rights campaigner.
Deborah (Debo) married Andrew Cavendish and as the Duchess of Devonshire restored the family seat Chatsworth, (believed to be the inspiration for Austin’s Pemeberley) as the “sensible one” she was the epitome of the Conservative countrywoman.
Author and Francophile Nancy’s autobiographical novels, Love In A Cold Climate and The Pursuit Of Love immortalised (and romanticised) her family and have never been out of print.
They continue to fascinate; Mitford-alia, has become a literary industry, not all of it appreciated by the cognoscenti. One biography prompted a letter to the Times disputing the author’s claims to familiarity with his subject “…and as for the use of the word we
, is that the royal we
, the editorial we
, or just you and your bloody tapeworm?” a line worthy of Nancy herself.
A recent addition to the canon Take Six Girls: The Lives Of The Mitford Sisters by Laura Thompson was published after the death of the surviving sister Deborah in 2015. Thompson includes references to her lengthy conversations with Diana Mosley and the Duchess so she can claim association and is a sympathetic if not uncritical biographer. Placing them in the context of their time and ours, she uses the Mitfords’ relationships; their passions, ideologies, loyalties, rivalries, betrayals and ultimate reconciliations to show how civilizations are destroyed and restored, one family at a time.
Please see link http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781784970871/