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The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters

Hardback

Edited by Charlotte Mosley

List price $39.17

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  • Publisher: FOURTH ESTATE LTD
  • Format: Hardback | 624 pages
  • Dimensions: 164mm x 236mm x 62mm | 1,420g
  • Publication date: 3 September 2007
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1841157902
  • ISBN 13: 9781841157900
  • Illustrations note: 40 b/w illus, 32 b/w plates (32pp), With index
  • Sales rank: 207,102

Product description

The never-before published letters of the legendary Mitford sisters, alive with wit, affection, tragedy and gossip: a charismatic history of the century's signal events played out in the lives of a controversial and uniquely gifted family. Spanning the twentieth century, these magically vivid letters between the legendary Mitford sisters constitute not just a superb social and historical chronicle (what other family counted among its friends Hitler and the Queen, Cecil Beaton and President Kennedy, Evelyn Waugh and Givenchy?); they also give an intimate portrait of the stormy but enduring relationship between six beautiful and gifted women who emerged from the same stock, incarnated the same indomitable spirit, yet carved out starkly different roles and identities for themselves. Nancy, the scalding wit who transferred her family life into bestselling novels; Pamela, who craved nothing more than a quiet country life; Diana, the fascist jailed with her husband, Oswald Mosley, during WWII; Unity, an attempted suicide, obsessed with Hitler; Jessica, the runaway communist and fighter for social change; and Deborah, the genial socialite who found herself Duchess of Devonshire. Writing to one another to confide, commiserate, tease, rage and gossip, the sisters wrote above all to amuse. A correspondence of this scope is rare, for it to be penned by six such born storytellers makes it unique. Editor Charlotte Mosley -- Diana Mitford's daughter-in-law -- has had unrestricted access to the vast archive of family letters and photographs, most of which have never been published before.

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Author information

The editor, Charlotte Mosley, Diana Mitford's daughter-in-law, has worked as a publisher and journalist. She has published 'A Talent to Annoy: Essays, Articles and Reviews' by Nancy Mitford (1986), 'Love From Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford' (1993) and 'The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh' (1996).

Review quote

'Mosley has done a superb job in allowing these sisters to speak for themselves!the result is a glorious portrait of a six--way, life--enhancing, lifelong conversation.' Sunday Times 'Memoir of the Year' 'The Mitfords were, of course, unusually funny and unusually verbally dextrous, as well as unusually well connected. But it wasn't all fun and games, and what this book does so well is show the grit beneath the lustre.' The Sunday Times 'The great treat of all time!the book's editor, Charlotte Mosley, proves the perfect companion (and) she provided an exceptionally lucid exposition, perceptive and well--written, of the extraordinary lives and complex characters of her cast. The letters are brilliantly entertaining, for the most part written with a talent to amuse that amounts almost to comic genius!a profoundly moving experience!a rich addition to our national heritage.' The Sunday Telegraph 'A gripping read'. Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph 'Books of the Year' 'The editing could not have been better!The great thing about presenting the letters without a biographer's intervention is that we are allowed' for the first time, to get a clear view of how the dynamics of this peculiar family worked.' Guardian 'A novelist would never get away with inventing this: a correspondence spanning eight decades, written from locations including Chatsworth and Holloway Prison, between six original and talented women who numbered among their friends Evelyn Waugh, Maya Angelou, J. F. Kennedy and Adolf Hitler. The story of the extraordinary Mitford sisters has never been told as well as they tell it themselves.' J. K. Rowling 'It is thrilling to eavesdrop of the blazing rows and tender reconciliations.' Richard Davenport--Hines, in The Sunday Times 'Books of the Year' '"The Mitfords" is a thrilling and moving, funny and serious book. Here is a story of a family, of loyalty, love, humour, tragedy and at times, chilling deception, a tale that sometimes amuses and horrifies, but always fascinates!with the diminishing use of the letter as a means of communication, one wonders if there will ever again be such a luminous correspondence.' Telegraph 'A wonderful portrait. All their sibling rivalries, childishness, cleverness and clear mutual affection bubble through this revealing book.' Daily Express 'Books of the Year' 'This luminous correspondence reveals an astonishing and complex story of a family brimming with rivalry and affection.' Juliette Nicholson, in the Evening Standard 'Books of the Year' 'Hugely entertaining!This book is funny, sad, outrageous and impeccably edited, and despite its enormous length, it never flags for a moment.' Mail on Sunday. ***** 'Even those new to the family will find the multitudinous strands or narrative clearly laid out and the sisters' strange ways with words--succinctly decoded!Their humanity is amply illustrated in these, their own enjoyable words.' Scotsman. 'Charlotte Mosley is an exemplary editor!The style that gives these letters their glitter and appeal also worked defensively: here is life moving fast and funnily; until old age the sisters seldom delve below the sparkling surface, even at moments of tragedy.' Jan Dalley, FT 'Love or loathe the idea of them, there is no denying the vivid immediacy of their polyphonic voices in this remarkable volume, the editing of which by Charlotte Mosley is distinguished by its ideal mixture of tact, efficiency and unobtrusiveness.' The Times 'Charlotte Mosley's glorious collection -- by turns hilarious, moving and shocking -- should be read by both detractors and admirers, because these letters are social history, pure and simple.' Waterstones Books Quarterly 'This is a long book which gets better and better as you proceed, the genius of it being in its gathering momentum!As editor, (Charlotte Mosley's) quiet rigour and fearlessness of skeletons both in and out of cupboards must be saluted!one is aware of having read something not only unique but very moving too!' The Express 'Absorbing, funny and often very moving!a remarkable story of six remarkable personalities. I can't imagine that such a collection of letters between members of one family will ever emerge again. But then, there was always the stamp of uniqueness on everything these remarkable women set their minds to achieving.' The Spectator 'Charlotte Mosley successfully conveys the nursery atmosphere the sisters inhabited throughout their lives. Linking these individual lives with brief accounts of what was happening to the family at large, she provides the reader with much needed context and lets some fresh air into the claustrophobic, overheated atmosphere.' The Tablet

Editorial reviews

More than 800 pages of letters provide an engrossing, deeply personal group portrait of six idiosyncratic sisters whose political views varied as much as the trajectories of their famous - often notorious - lives. Daughters of the loopy Lord and Lady Redesdale, the Mitford girls first burst onto the English social scene as "bright young things" in the 1920s. Nancy, the eldest, was the family wit; she wrote a series of bestselling novels that captured their rarified milieu, among them The Pursuit of Love (1945) and Love in a Cold Climate (1949). Dazzling beauty Diana left her society marriage for Sir Oswald Mosley, a notorious rake who also happened to be leader of the British Fascist Union. Unity, too, embraced fascism while living abroad in Germany, becoming a friend and confidante of Hitler and Goebbels. She attempted suicide at the news of the outbreak of war and later died of complications from the bullet wound. Jessica, whose political leanings swung to the left, saved up her pocket money for years so she could elope with her communist cousin Esmond Romilly to Spain and fight the good fight in the Civil War; she became a bestselling author in her own right with Hons and Rebels (1960). Quiet, private Pamela was the "horsey" sister. Deborah, known as "Debo," became Duchess of Devonshire and keeper of the family flame. Debo's compelling flair for anecdote shines to particular advantage in this exhaustive collection, lovingly edited by Diana's daughter-in-law, but each letter is a thrilling gem unto itself, thanks to the sisters' individual cleverness.Marvelous fun, though the abundance of in-jokes and private language makes the book most enjoyable for readers already familiar with the Mitford legend. (Kirkus Reviews)