Friday, March 1, 2013

Mitford March

For some time now I have wanted to do a tribute month to the Mitfords. Now, while I really wanted to do this to coincide with Deborah Mitford's 90th birthday in March of 2010, she being the last living Mitford, as you can see I'm a few years off... but still, better late then never is what I say. For any Anglophile the Mitfords are an interesting subject. Six sisters raised in an unorthodox way, with their own argot, Honnish, with education being for boys, not girls, they never had a formal education, yet despite that hindrance, two of them went on to become celebrated writers, with Nancy Mitford regarded as one of the best writers of the 20th century.

In any time period the Mitfords would be called eccentric. The eldest, Nancy, went on to be famous for her novels saterising her family, Pamela's lesbian relationship didn't raise many eyebrows especially because her younger sister Diana married the heir to the Guiness fortune, then left him for Walter Mosley, the leader of Britian's Fascist movement. They eventually married in Joseph Goebbels' drawing room with Hitler in attendance. Unity was much like her sister Diana, in that she too flocked to Hitler, but was so torn when Britian and Germany declared war that she shot herself in the head, but didn't die till after the war. Jessica meanwhile was a staunch Communist and ran off with her cousin, whom she married, to the Spanish Civil War. Deborah on the other hand is quite docile, having married the Duke of Devonshire and taking care of Chatsworth, one of the great houses of England, and turning it into one of the most successful country homes and tourist attractions.

Of the six sisters, only Pamela and Unity never took pen to paper. While Nancy wrote fiction, it seems that the sisters main literary interest was in non-fiction. Writing biographies, not just of famous people, but also contrasting biographies of themselves. Besides their own writing, there has been a plethora of books written on them. Controversial, stylish and notorious... I can't think of a better gang of ladies to have their own month.


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