Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => The Windsors => Topic started by: RichC on April 08, 2007, 07:15:35 PM

Title: The Mitfords
Post by: RichC on April 08, 2007, 07:15:35 PM
They aren't royal, but I thought it would be worthwhile to start a thread about the Mitford family, one of the UK's most interesting aristocratic families.  Which one of the six Mitford sisters is your favorite and why?  The Communist (Jessica) or the Fascists (Unity and Diana), or maybe Nancy (the novelist), or perhaps Deborah (Britain's Martha Stewart).   Oh, and I forgot Pam, who everyone else seems to have forgotten too (she doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry.)  And what is it with British aristocrats embracing wacky or discredited political theories anyway?

Comments?
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: TampaBay on April 09, 2007, 05:35:56 AM
There is a great book out on them, It  came out about a yeat ago.  I saw it a Barnes and Noble and read about 20 pages.  It covers the periods from Edward VII to eary QEII-Society, Politics and Royals.  I should have bought it but I had so many hard to fine books that I left it on the shelf thinking I qould have no trouble finding it later.

TampaBay
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: bell_the_cat on April 09, 2007, 07:04:42 AM
I can't think of much good to say about Diana and Unity. Diana was on "Desert Island Discs" a few years ago and was totally unrepentant about her support for Hitler.....

The Duchess of Devonshire. I'm not sure she's exactly Britain's Martha Stewart (unlike Diana she has never seen the inside of a prison), however, she did publish a cookery book. It contained helpful tips for preparing game ("get the gamekeeper to fetch a brace of fine pheasants...). There was also a fascinating book on gardening at Chatsworth.

Jessica Mitford had an interesting life, fighting with the Republicans in Spain during the Civil War. She and her husband had to fill in their occupations before joining up. So they wrote down "Labrador" because that was her favourite kind of dog. Luckily it was the right answer. She was a memeber of the Communist Party in the US.

I enjoyed Nancy Mitfords books, especially "Love in a Cold Climate", with it's array of appalling characters, worst of which must surely be the abominable Lady Mountdore. Talking about her time as Vicereine of India:

"Well, actually they (the Indians) worshipped us.... and we deserved it too. I can honestly say we put India on the map. Before we went there none of our friends had even heard of it!"

Nancy's humour has a bitter (and snobbish) edge to it though.

So maybe Pam was the best of the bunch (I think there was a brother too).
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: CountessKate on April 09, 2007, 09:00:04 AM
I don't know that Pam was the best of the bunch - she was the quietest and had the least personality, but I've just been reading Jessica's letters where it's clear she joined in one of those pointless family squabbles (this time between Jessica and Debo, Jessica accused of stealing an album of photos from Debo, letters back and forward demonstrating no Jessica didn't, album found in Debo's possession after all) as she poured little drops of vitriol into the affair in an unassuming, vague way which helped to keep the animosity afloat. 

Tom, the only boy, was I think rather an adherent of his brother-in-law, Mosely, and like him a bit of a womaniser, but when the war came he did the proper thing and joined up and was killed in Burma, I believe, just before the war ended.  He very sensibly kept his head down around all the girls and seemed to be liked by all of them.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 12:33:06 PM
I can't like Diana or Unity at all.  :P They all had interesting lives, though.

The brother, Tom, was reported to have had a relationship with James Lee-Milne, the diarist. I haven't read his diaries but perhaps there's something of the family in there?

Nancy's father-in-law, Lord Rennell, was reported to have had a relationship with Oscar Wilde. Her relationship with Col.  Gaston Palewski (an aide to Charles de Gaulle and later a prominent statesman) lasted on-and-off until he married Violette de Talleyrand-Périgord, Duchess of Sagan, daughter of one of the 'Dollar Princesses', Anna Gould.

Debo's sister-in-law was Kathleen Kennedy (sister of President Kennedy). She married William Cavendish (and suffered a break with her mother over the religious differences that never healed) and would've become the Duchess of Devonshire had 'Billy' not been killed in the war. Debo's granddaughter is one of those ridiculously skinny models, Stella Tennant. Further, Debo's father-in-law, died of a heart attack while under the care of the suspected serial murderer John Bodkin Adams. The coroner should have been notified since the duke had not seen a doctor in the 14 days prior to his death, however, Adams, though present at death, could sign the death certificate to state that the Duke died naturally.The Duke's brother-in-law, Harold MacMillan, the Prime Minister, wanted Adams's case to go away (he was under investigation for another death shortly before the Duke's) apparently so that MacMillan's wife's own affair wouldn't come out during the intense publicity.

Diana's 2nd husband, Oswald Mosley, was first married to Cynthia, one of the daughters of the former Viceroy to Indian, Lord Curzon--another interesting set of sisters (with their own book, The Viceroy's Daughters) and daughters of another Dollar Princess, Mary Leiter. Cynthia had been elected a Labour MP in 1929. While Diana left her husband for Oswald, he wouldn't leave his wife. He was grief-stricken upon her death but didn't turn to Diana, but rather launched an affair with his sister-in-law 'Baba' Metcalfe, wife of 'Fruity' Metcalfe, best man to the Duke of Windsor at his wedding. Cynthia and Baba's stepmother, Grace (subject of John Singer Sargen's last oil portrait), also became a mistress to Oswald. To complete the set, the eldest of the 3 sisters, Mary Irene, had had an affair with him before he married. :P Eventually, Oswald and Diana married at Joseph Goebbel's house with he and Hitler as witnesses. They were forced to quietly remarry after the war since Hitler had held the marriage license and it wasn't found after the war ended. MI5 had files on the couple and it was their opinion that Diana was 'said to be far cleverer and more dangerous than her husband and will stick at nothing to achieve her ambitions. She is wildly ambitious." They settled in Paris where they were neighbors and (surprise) friends with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. I'm sure this friendship, with the Mosley's unrepentant feeling for the Nazis and continued vocal support of Fascist causes endeared the Windsors to their family.  ::)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 01:17:09 PM
Nancy Mitford

(http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/P/190393351X.02.LZZZZZZZ.jpg)

(http://www.nndb.com/people/137/000113795/nancy-mitford-1.jpg)

Diana & Unity at the Nuremberg Rally in 1937

(http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/dianaunity.png)

Diana & Hitler

(http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/dianahitler.png)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 01:23:30 PM
Diana

(http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/dianamosley.jpg)

Unity

(http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/unitymitford.jpg)

Unity & Jessica

(http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/decca.gif)

Deb

(http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/deborahmitford.jpg)

Photos courtesy of sheilaomalley.com. She writes some on the family and sums them up pretty well--stunningly gorgeous but with something fundamentally 'off' about them.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: bell_the_cat on April 09, 2007, 02:00:03 PM
Thanks, GD Ella for all the photos. I particularly like the last one of the duchess! I agree they were all a bit awful really. There are a lot of very amusing stories about them though. I was laughing recently at an account by Jessica of their schooldays. They didn't go to school, of course, but were educated by a succession of governesses. One of the less successful choices took the girls up to London for the day and taught them how to shoplift!  :)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Michael II on April 09, 2007, 02:33:58 PM
Didn't one of the Mitford sisters Jessica I think??? write a book called The American way of Death?  In it she stated that when she died she wanted one of those wonderful American embalming jobs done on her.  Alas instead she was cremated and her ashes scattered to the four winds. :'(
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 02:35:22 PM
Yes, that was a book Jessica wrote.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 09, 2007, 02:36:53 PM
I just finished Decca's letters, and "shrieked" throughout (to put it in Mitfordian terms). I know that several of them were ghastly --- Unity measuring for curtains while the Jews she was dispossessing to get their apartment in Nazi Germany silently watched is the most egregious --- but when they were funny, they were hilarious. Nancy was the most perceptive about the family, I think, when she described Hons and Rebels to E. Waugh as Decca's view of the family as filtered through Nancy's novels. Even Decca admitted as much later on, and that Nancy's work shaped the public and private images of the family members.

Read Decca's very shirty answer to Jonathan Guiness's request for an interview for his own family history. This is a family that really, really knows how to carry a grudge.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 02:38:33 PM
(http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/mitfords.jpg)

I think this shows Nancy, Unity, Jessica and Diana.

From a review of the book of Jessica's letters:

"If Decca has forgiven her mother her one-time Hitler sympathies, has nothing but tenderness for the deluded and disabled Unity, is cautiously affectionate with Nancy and warm though prickly with Deborah, she is unbending about Diana’s steely and unrepentant Fascist history. Visiting London with her son, Benjamin Treuhaft, who is half Jewish, she notes Diana’s offer of a meeting: “I thought better not, as I didn’t want Benj turned into a lampshade.”
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Alexander1917 on April 09, 2007, 02:40:17 PM
The book Diana Mosley by Anne de Courcy (bought on the home-way-flight) is a very interessting biography with nice pictures of her family and homes.
A very interessting life.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 02:54:33 PM
From some of the comments at the sheilaomalley site:

"The Mitfords literally embodied the internal war in Britain leading up to World War II. The pacifist fear of conflict - the blossoming love affair with fascism - the growing power of Communism - Each sister represents one of these trends. I mean ... I'm trying to imagine a dinner party with all of them. Scary! Decca - the Communist - had grown up closest to Unity - and was really torn apart by Unity's choices. They shared a room for a while - and they both would scratch stuff into the windows: swastikas and hammer and sickles. Battling ideologies."

"I loved the craziness of the dad ... how, when he got angry with someone or whatever, would write their name on a piece of paper, fold it up into a tiny square, and put it away in a drawer somewhere? Like, this hilarious little gesture that had no impact but was enormously meaningful to him, a huge statement...Do you remember, in that bio, the episode where she (Decca) and her husband were dining in some Communist country, and thinking about how great it all was, and then at some point their waitress said something to them -- maybe begged them to help her get out, or something like that. And they both had this shared moment of terror, like, "Are we completely wrong about this?" And then (in my memory of how this was described in the book) they kind of decided to ignore it and not think of it again. Chilling."

Also, the fact that Unity shot herself in the head over Hitler--and survived. Bizarre.  :o

Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 03:00:50 PM
Nancy

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/1903933137.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SS500_.jpg)

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/0375718990.01._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_SCLZZZZZZZ_AA240_SH20_.jpg)

Diana

(http://ec2.images-amazon.com/images/P/1903933471.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SS500_.jpg)

all the sisters

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/0393324141.01._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_SCLZZZZZZZ_AA240_SH20_.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 03:04:47 PM
the family

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/0753818035.01._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_SCLZZZZZZZ_AA240_SH20_.jpg)

Nancy

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/0711224528.01._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_SCLZZZZZZZ_AA240_SH20_.jpg)

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/0340599219.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SS500_.jpg)

Jessica (Decca)

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/0375410325.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SS500_.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 03:07:30 PM
Unity

(http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WRmitfordU.jpg)

From Jessica's autobiography, Hons and Rebels (1960) regarding Unity:

"It was the year of Hitler's accession to power. Unity announced her intention was to go to Germany, learn German, and meet the Führer. My parents put up much less opposition than might have been expected. Perhaps the thought of another London season of sham tiaras and tame rats let loose in ballrooms was a bit more than my mother could contemplate with any pleasure. Unity was allowed to go.

Within six months, she came home for a brief visit, having accomplished both her objectives. She already spoke fairly fluent German, and had met not only Hitler, but Himmler, Goering, Goebbels, and others of the Nazi leaders. "How on earth did you actually manage to get to know them?" we asked in some amazement. Unity explained that it had been fairly simple; she had reserved a nightly table in the Osteria Bavaria restaurant, where they often went. Evening after evening she sat and stared at them, until finally a flunkey was sent over to find out who she was. On learning that she was an admirer of the Nazis, and a member of the British Union of Fascists Hitler invited her to join them at their table. Thereafter she became one of their circle, saw them constantly in Munich, accompanied them to meetings, rallies, the Olympic Games.

She was completely and utterly sold on them. The Nazi salute - "Heil Hitler!" with hand upraised - became her standard greeting to everyone, family, friends, the astonished postmistress in Swinbrook village. Her collection of Nazi trophies and paraphernalia now overflowed our little sitting-room - bundles of Stretcher's anti-Semitic paper, Der Stürmer; an autographed copy of Mein Kampf; the works of Houston Stuart Chamberlain, a nineteenth-century forerunner of Fascist ideologists; albums of photographs of Nazi leaders."

Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Michael II on April 09, 2007, 04:23:18 PM
I was searching the internet about Jessica and found an amusing little item.  She was researching her book on The American way of death and one undertaker had reached his limit with her and her belittling of the use of family vaults the undertake said "  Look lady even Jesus was buried in a vault" to which Jessica replied:  "Prehaps so but He could only stand it for three days."  No indelicate intention meant.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: RichC on April 09, 2007, 04:37:45 PM
At the Chatsworth website you can listen to the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire discuss her husband and his work on the house.

 

www.chatsworth.org
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 04:58:21 PM
Diana
(http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39352000/jpg/_39352661_800top.jpg)

(http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39352000/jpg/_39352659_800swastika.jpg)

(http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c219/Roncesvalles/dianamosley.jpg)

(http://www.smh.com.au/ffxImage/urlpicture_id_1060588430966_2003/08/13/main_mosley.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 04:59:23 PM
Nancy

(http://marx.org/glossary/people/m/pics/mitford-nancy.jpg)


(http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c219/Roncesvalles/nancywedding.jpg)

(http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c219/Roncesvalles/Scannen4.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 05:01:28 PM
Jessica

(http://marx.org/glossary/people/m/pics/mitford-jessica.jpg)


(http://www.theatlantic.com/images/issues/200610/mitford420x282.jpg)

(http://www.mitford.org/decsmi.jpg)

(http://www.nndb.com/people/138/000113796/jessica-mitford-1.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 05:02:46 PM
Jessica

(http://www.mitford.org/dec1963.gif)

(http://www.mitford.org/deccrec.jpg)

(http://www.profitsofdeath.com/images/mitford.jpg)

(http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c219/Roncesvalles/Scannen1.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 05:04:04 PM
Sisters

(http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39352000/jpg/_39352655_800mitfords.jpg)

Family

(http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c219/Roncesvalles/mitfords1.jpg)

Diana & Tom

(http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:ArfGhp1Oq-LxnM:http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-Tom%2BDiana_Mosley-Nuremberg2.png)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 05:10:19 PM
(http://www.susangreenhill.co.uk/parties/images/prevs/prev4.jpg)

-Jessica, Deborah and Pamela (with Alexander & Charlotte Mosley) at the book launch party for 'The Nancy Mitford Diaries' in September 1993.

Deb

(http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c219/Roncesvalles/deborahwedding.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: RichC on April 09, 2007, 05:14:02 PM
Here's a pic of Nancy

(http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y112/rec_1965/Nancy_Mitford.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 05:30:54 PM
Unity

(http://www.brytania.filo.pl/mitford/uni.gif)

(http://www.brytania.filo.pl/mitford/uni.jpg)

(http://www.wellesley.edu/WomensReview/archive/2002/03/mitford34.gif)

(http://www.wellesley.edu/WomensReview/archive/2002/03/mitford48.gif)
(upon her return after suicide attempt)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 05:33:40 PM
Diana, from an obituary:

"It was in this period of her first marriage that Evelyn Waugh met Diana. Like many young men, he was smitten by her, stating that her beauty ran through the room like a peal of bells, and he dedicated his second novel Vile Bodies to her. In the period when she was running after Sir Oswald, Waugh seems to have largely avoided her, and later still circumstances were against a friendship such as that he enjoyed with her sister Nancy. In a letter of 9th March 1966, a month before he died, Waugh tried to answer the question Diana had obviously put to him - why had their friendship petered out? He states that it was

Pure jealousy. You (and Bryan) were immensely kind to me at a time when I greatly needed kindness, after my desertion by my first wife. I was infatuated with you. Not of course that I aspired to your bed but I wanted you to myself as especial confidante and comrade. After Jonathan’s birth you began to enlarge your circle. I felt lower in your affections than Harold Acton or Robert Byron and I couldn’t compete or take a humbler place. That is the sad and sordid truth.

Then in what was probably his last letter (30th March 1966) Waugh explained to her that Lucy Simmons in his novella Work Suspended was not a cruel portrait of her at the time they were close, though Lucy like Diana was pregnant. He had just used details of pregnancy that he did not know about until he observed Diana’s.

Her relations with her sisters were not entirely smooth. Pamela, the equable, capable one, was a consolation in times of stress; and Deborah, the youngest one who became the Duchess of Devonshire, was always friendly and helpful. Unity had been closest to Diana perhaps, but she had shot herself when Britain declared war on Germany and died disabled nine years later. During the war the oldest sister, Nancy, wrote to the government to warn ministers of Diana’s dangerous predilections and to advise them to keep her in prison, but this unaffectionate act did not stop them from resuming their friendship afterwards. Diana helped to nurse Nancy through her long and agonising final illness before she died in 1973. Jessica, however, had become a Communist and lived in the United States where she and her second husband engaged in labour politics. Diana and she could see little that was creditable in the other and never regained intimacy. At the end of the war Jessica declared that the Mosleys should be thrown back into prison permanently, and the political gulf between them meant that her portrait of Diana in her autobiography Hons and Rebels (1960) was unsympathetic."

(http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39498000/jpg/_39498617_nurembery203.jpg)

(http://www.abbotshill.freeserve.co.uk/Images/DianaMosley1.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 05:43:12 PM
The Bavarian aristocrat and Harvard alumnus Putzi Hanfstaengl was a very early supporter of Adolf Hitler. Putzi was bi-lingual and fluent in English because his mother was an American (as well as one of Frank Buchman's early Oxford Group members), and his father was a Bavarian aristocrat, so Hitler put Putzi in charge of foreign press relations. Putzi began inviting the Mitford sisters, Unity Mitford and Diana Guiness (later Mosley), to the Nuremberg Nazi Party Day rallies in 1933.
But Putzi didn't like their style. Putzi described in his memoirs how, at this 1934 rally, he had to use his handkerchief to wipe off the extravagant make-up that the Mitford sisters wore, to bring them in line with "Nordic womanhood", so that Hitler's sensibilities would not be offended.113 (Lady Diana commented in her autobiography that she didn't know why she looked so pasty-faced in this photograph. Perhaps Putzi had really messed up her make-up.)
Hitler laughed when Unity later told him about that. He didn't seem to be offended by anything that Unity did. He found her antics amusing. Then Unity got her revenge on Putzi: She complained to Hitler that Putzi was such a stuffed shirt and such a bore that they should play a joke on him. Hitler agreed. They made Putzi believe that he was being exiled to the Spanish Civil War, and then they shoved Putzi into an airplane, which took off. The airplane only flew as far as Munich before landing and letting Putzi out, but the prank totally unnerved Putzi, who complained that they were conspiring to kill him, and he fled in a panic to Switzerland, never to return to Nazi Germany.

(http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-Unity+Putzi-1c.png)
(with Putzi Hanfstaengl, at the 1934 Nuremberg Nazi Party Day Rally.)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 05:44:44 PM
Diana

(http://www.westminsterbookshop.co.uk/images/475/0099470276.jpg)

(http://www.oswaldmosley.com/images/people/dianamosley1.jpg)

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/graphics/2004/10/12/na12a.jpg)
(addressing a Fascist rally)

Here's a link to ab interview: http://www.fpp.co.uk/online/03/08/Diana_Mosley2.html
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Janet_W. on April 09, 2007, 05:50:17 PM
I rather think Jessica Mitford's comments about embalming were meant to be humorous. If you read "The American Way of Death" you will find she was highly critical of the funeral industry and the rituals it encourages in pursuit of the Almighty Dollar.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 05:55:40 PM
Diana

(http://www.listener.co.nz/assets/img/2003/i3313/booksextramosley.jpg)

(http://vho.org/News/GB/Image109.jpg)

(http://www.theage.com.au/ffxImage/urlpicture_id_1072908946145_2004/01/03/diana_cut_0401.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 06:11:43 PM
Jessica’s books:
Hons and Rebels (1960, memoir)
The American Way of Death (1963, nonfiction)
The Trial of Dr. Spock (1969, nonfiction)
Kind and Usual Punishment: The Prison Business (1973, nonfiction)
A Fine Old Conflict (1977, memoir)
The Making of a Muckraker (1979)
Poison Penmanship: The Art of Muckraking (1979)
Grace Had an English Heart (1988)
The American Way of Birth (1992, nonfiction)
The American Way of Death Revisited (1998)

Nancy’s books
Highland Fling (1931)
Christmas Pudding (1932)
Wigs on the Green (1935)
Pigeon Pie (1940)
The Pursuit of Love (1945, novel)
Love in a Cold Climate (1949, novel)
The Blessing (1951, novel)
Madame de Pompadour (1954, biography)
Noblesse Oblige: An Enquiry into the Identifiable Characteristics of the English Aristocracy (1956, essays)
Voltaire in Love (1957, biography)
Don't Tell Alfred (1960, novel)
The Water Beetle (1962)
The Sun King (1966, biography)
Frederick the Great (1970, biography)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 06:27:44 PM
Books about the family:

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell
The House of Mitford by Jonathan Guinness
Nancy Mitford by Harold Acton
Nancy Mitford (A William Abrahams Book) by Selina Hastings
Diana Mosley: Mitford Beauty, British Fascist, Hitler's Angel by Anne de Courcy
Unity Mitford: An enquiry into her life and the frivolity of evil by David Pryce-Jones
Life in a Cold Climate: Nancy Mitford - A Portrait of a Contradictory Woman by Laura Thompson

Memoirs and Letters:

Hons and Rebels (New York Review Books Classics) by Jessica Mitford
A Fine Old Conflict by Jessica Mitford
Loved Ones: Pen Portraits by Diana Mosley
A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography of Diana Mitford Mosley by Diana Mitford Mosley
Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford by Jessica Mitford
Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford by Nancy Mitford
The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh by Nancy Mitford
The Bookshop At 10 Curzon Street: Letters Between Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill 195273 by Nancy Mitford
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 06:40:40 PM
Diana

(http://www.vonthronstahl.de/pics/h_mmosl2.jpg) with Oswald

(http://images.npg.org.uk/OCimg/weblg/8/8/mw69288.jpg)

(http://cache.gettyimages.com/xc/2634149.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=B43C13524355E928119F79F085DD0BCB)

Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 09, 2007, 06:53:05 PM
Links to interesting articles about the sisters:

http://albionmonitor.net/decca/sisters.html
http://albionmonitor.net/decca/family.html

These 4 are particular about Decca:

http://albionmonitor.net/decca/decca.html
http://albionmonitor.net/decca/death.html (about her book on the death industry)
http://albionmonitor.net/decca/esmond.html (her 1st marriage)
http://albionmonitor.net/decca/bob.html (her 2nd marriage)

Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: ashdean on April 10, 2007, 06:36:33 AM
Deb

(http://www.parismatch.com/images/articles/864/image0.jpg)


(http://worldroots.com/brigitte/gifs24/andrewcavendish1920.jpg)

(http://worldroots.com/brigitte/gifs24/andrewcavendish.jpg)
The late Andrew and  Deborah (now Dowager) Devonshire are amongst the greatest aristocrats to ever grace the pages of Debretts peerage.No one who has met them could under estimate their decency and sense of noblese oblige...
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Eddie_uk on April 11, 2007, 01:24:09 AM
Diana

(http://www.vonthronstahl.de/pics/h_mmosl2.jpg) with Oswald


I love this picture - one of my favourites! They look so much in love.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: basilforever on April 11, 2007, 10:07:34 AM
So you have met Deborah and the late Duke of Devonshire Ashdean? What were they like?

I have to say Diana is the worst I think. She had a horrible scary look. I really don't care if she and Oswald were in love - they were both evil fascists.

I never looked at pictures much of them before - I have to say they are not as spectacularly beautiful as I had imagined. Far from it. Diana and Unity were the only ones who were beauties and that was more than cancelled out by their hideousness in other areas.

Before my detailed reading of this thread I hadn't heard of most of them - Only discussed Nancy because of her biography of Louis XIV at university. But they are indeed fascinating. They are made out to be so aristocratic - but really they weren't. They were just the daughter of a Baron - who was only the second Baron! And it is wrong of course to refer to them as Lady Diana or Lady Unity, etc. they did not have this status.

The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire appears to be the best of them, seeming as I have heard so little about Pamela she can barely be included.

Diana seems hideously vain - writing something like - "It was not the ideal situation to be in prison, but it was still lovely to wake up in the morning, knowing that one was a lovely one." What a stupid thing to write down!

I like Debo the best. But I have to say Unity is very fascinating. A great movie could be made just about her. Are there any movies about them? I really like the name Unity.

I was a bit surprised to see all this in the Windsors forum. As they aren't Royalty, and never had much to do with any Royals, well I think one of them knew the Duchess of Windsor.  ::)

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1c/Chatsworth_Cookery_Book_-_large.jpg)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: RichC on April 11, 2007, 02:00:47 PM

I like Debo the best. But I have to say Unity is very fascinating. A great movie could be made just about her. Are there any movies about them? I really like the name Unity.

I was a bit surprised to see all this in the Windsors forum. As they aren't Royalty, and never had much to do with any Royals, well I think one of them knew the Duchess of Windsor.  ::)


According to the website http://albionmonitor.net/decca/sisters.html, Unity (with the middle name Valkyrie) was so named because she was born at the outbreak of World War I (August 8, 1914), a few days after Britain went to war with Germany.  "Unity" expressed the hope that they war would end peacefully.  I'm not sure about the Valkyrie part....

There is some interesting stuff about Unity's life after her suicide attempt here:

http://heritage.scotsman.com/places.cfm?id=446552005


I emailed the forum admins a long time ago about where to place this thread and they suggested the Windsor section as the closest.



Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Janet_W. on April 11, 2007, 04:25:10 PM
Not exactly a movie but a miniseries.

I remember watching this in the 1980s . . . a reshowing apparently prompted the review.

February 11, 2002

TELEVISION REVIEW; Dramatizing Nancy Mitford's Eccentric Family
By CARYN JAMES

Readers devoted to Nancy Mitford's sparkling, acerbic novels will recognize a moment of sheer hilarity on ''Masterpiece Theater'' when Linda Radlett asks the nurse to take her newborn daughter from the room. ''Oh do take it away, darling. Poor thing must have caught sight of itself in the glass,'' our heroine Linda says of the howling, unattractive infant, to whom she has taken an instant dislike.

And anyone who does not know Mitford's fiction may wonder why she has such an adoring cult. Based on Mitford's best-known works, ''The Pursuit of Love'' and ''Love in a Cold Climate,'' this dramatization offers a tepidly charming vision of an upper-class English family in the 1930's. Weaving in and out of both novels, the film turns Mitford's biting social comedies into a breezily amusing but uninspired film. Alan Bates and Anthony Andrews give deliciously witty performances, yet the film lacks the wry tone that lets Mitford get away with the most caustic observations, and her characters remain likable despite much cold-blooded behavior.

As in the books, the narrator is Fanny, Linda's cousin and a frequent guest to the Radletts' country house, Alconleigh. The Radletts are based on the famously eccentric Mitfords. But the film spends so little time on their childhood that the eccentricities seem confusing instead of endearing. The opening credits show the father, Uncle Matthew, racing through the countryside as his hounds track not a fox but two of his little girls; child-hunting was a game the six Mitford girls enjoyed. Mr. Bates has some of the film's funniest scenes as the blustery Uncle Matthew, also known as Fa, who calls his daughters' suitors ''sewers'' but whose harsh demeanor masks a huge streak of emotion.

The story quickly focuses on Fanny and Linda's coming out into society. Fanny is the sensible one, who longs for a stable life to set her apart from her mother, who has left so many men in the dust she is known as the Bolter. Rosamund Pike captures all of Fanny's good-natured grace.

Linda is a great beauty and desperately romantic. She marries young and soon leaves her rich, dull husband and unloved daughter for a handsome Communist. Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh brings humanity to a character who might easily have been unsympathetic. Linda exudes sincerity as she stands in Hyde Park in a fur coat giving a Communist speech about workers.

Too much of the film, though, leaves ''The Pursuit of Love'' and the Radletts to focus on characters from ''Love in a Cold Climate.'' Fanny's friend Polly is colorless, and while her monstrously self-absorbed mother, Lady Montdore, can be outrageously funny, the characters work best in smaller doses than we get here. The exception is Mr. Andrews, who has all but disappeared from the American screen since his long-ago days as Sebastian in ''Brideshead Revisited.'' He gives a wickedly caricatured performance as Polly's uncle, an aging roué with waved hair, a penchant for groping young girls' knees under the dining table, and the increasingly inappropriate nickname Boy.

The fictional Linda combines elements of several infamous Mitfords. She is partly Diana, a renowned beauty now 91, who married the heir to the Guinness brewing fortune and left him for Sir Oswald Mosley, the British Fascist leader. It was Jessica who ran off with a Communist. (Unity Mitford has no role here; she fell in love with Hitler.)

And near the end of the story, as World War II approaches, Nancy Mitford borrows from her own life when Linda falls passionately in love with a handsome French duke, Fabrice de Sauveterre. Gaston Palewski, the great love of Nancy's life, was not a duke, but like Fabrice he was a Resistance fighter and a valued aide to Charles de Gaulle. For decades he loved Nancy, though not as much as he loved womanizing. Russell Baker's commentary after the final episode gives a peculiar gloss to this story. When Mitford died in 1973, he says, Palewski ''was at her bedside''; the coda doesn't mention that he had married another women a few years before.

Decades before that, Mitford had created a different bittersweet ending for Linda. With the story of Fabrice and Linda the film becomes unexpectedly moving, but too late. This ''Love in a Cold Climate'' is a lost opportunity; Nancy Mitford deserves to be known for more than her sisters' bad taste in men.

MASTERPIECE THEATER
Love in a Cold Climate

On most PBS stations tonight and
Feb. 18
(check local listings)

A BBC/WGBH Boston co-production; based on the novels ''The Pursuit of Love'' and ''Love in a Cold Climate'' by Nancy Mitford, and adapted by Deborah Moggach; producer, Kate Harwood; director, Tom Hooper; executive producers, Pippa Harris and Jane Tranter for the BBC and Rebecca Eaton for WGBH Boston.

WITH: Rosamund Pike (Fanny), Alan Bates (Uncle Matthew Radlett), Celia Imrie (Aunt Sadie), Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh (Linda), Megan Dodds (Polly), John Standing (Lord Montdore), Sheila Gish (Lady Montdore), Anthony Andrews (Boy Dougdale) and Daniel Evans (Cedric Hampton).
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Janet_W. on April 11, 2007, 04:39:12 PM
Correction: After a bit of checking I realize that I saw the 1980 version which featured Judi Dench and that the review just posted was for the more recent version.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on April 11, 2007, 04:45:42 PM

I was a bit surprised to see all this in the Windsors forum. As they aren't Royalty, and never had much to do with any Royals, well I think one of them knew the Duchess of Windsor.  ::)



Diana and Mosley were good friends of the Duke and Duchess when they were neighbors in Paris.

There is some leeway allowed in what is chosen as a thread. There is a whole section of the Forum on Russian Noble Families, as well as Servants and Friends (most all of whom are not royal) I think it's permissible to have an occasional thread on similar families in England or other countries.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on May 21, 2007, 09:17:18 PM
http://www.royal-magazin.de/england/devonshire/duchess-devonshire.htm

Shows Deborah Mitford, the current Duchess of Devonshire, with some of the historical Devonshire jewels.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: emeraldeyes on May 23, 2007, 06:25:52 PM
At an annual charity book market that was held recently, I was over the moon to have found a copy of Chatsworth - The House, and when I finally had a chance to sit down with it properly, I found a wonderful surprise - it was signed! 

(http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a190/emeraldeyes1969/dd1.jpg)

(http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a190/emeraldeyes1969/dd2.jpg)

Of course, I am not Bob or Claire, but for $5 I didn't feel like I should expect it to be the correct name.   :P

It has been a joy to thumb through the book, and it is very interesting reading. 

Also from the book, the full version of the photo featured on the royal-magazin site:

(http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a190/emeraldeyes1969/dd3.jpg)

The caption to the photo:  "At our party at Chatsworth in July 2000, given to celebrate jointly the fifty years since Andrew succeeded to the dukedom and our eightieth birthdays, I wore Louise Duchess's dress, made by Worth, and her big tiara.  We bought the feathers for the headdress and the fan in Chesterfield."  Duchess Louise was the wife of the 8th duke.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on May 23, 2007, 11:33:56 PM
That bottom picture is the one Ursula uses at her site. Here's what it says about the Derby tiara. The outfit she wears is the one the 8th Duchess wore at the famed Devonshire Ball in 1897 where so many royalties attended in full costume.

"The tiara rests on a band of pairs of stylized buds between collet-set diamonds, surmounted by a sequence of palmettes outlined by diamond borders linked at the base to lotus flowers graduated toward the back,in total ca 1900 diamonds. The design is made in 1802 by Skinner of Orchard Street for the Duchess of Devonshire, who was presumably given this tiara at the time of her marriage in 1889. Since then the tiara has descended through three generations.

An articel written by the Duchess in the Sunday Telegraph from March 17, 2002, described her own behaviour when wearing so much glitter:

“Before the last war, tiaras were worn by married women at all the grand balls in London. Even at a big dance in the 1960s it was not uncommon for men to wear tail-coats and the women their jewels. I remember going to a such an entertainment on my own wearing, with unwonted confidence, the "big" tiara (the Devonshires have two). It must have looked rather odd, because my home-made dress of cotton broderie anglaise was definitely not up to it. At the end of the evening I went out to look for a taxi. It never occurred to me that it might not be a good idea to stand alone in the street long after midnight with a load of diamonds round my neck and nineteen hundred more glittering above my head.

But then, even though Helen, Duchess of Northumberland, once had her tiara snatched off her head as she was leaving her house in Eaton Square, we did not think of being mugged (the word did not exist). My mother-in-law, Mary Devonshire, who was Mistress of the Robes to The Queen from 1953 till 1967, used to fetch the jewels from the bank stowed in a Marks& Spencer carrier bag. My grandmother-in-law, Evelyn, Duchess of Devonshire, was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Mary for 43 years from 1910. Together she and Queen Mary weathered long hours of tiara-ed evenings. After one particularly lengthy engagement, Granny was heard to say "the Queen has been complaining about the weight of her tiara . . . the Queen doesn't know what a heavy tiara is".

Evelyn knew what she was talking about. The larger of the two Devonshire diamond tiaras is indeed a whopper. It was made in 1893 for Louise, the eighth Duke of Devonshire's wife. She was formerly married to the Duke of Manchester and was always known as the Double Duchess..........”source:Sunday Telegraph

In addition to the link in the previous page, this one also contains information on the tiara and more photos:

http://www.royal-magazin.de/england/devonshire/diadem-derby.htm

and this one shows the dress and jewels the 2 Duchesses wore (in color):

http://www.royal-magazin.de/england/devonshire/parure-devonshire-holbeinesque.htm

"Left the Zenobia-costume from Worth,Paris, which the 8th Duchess of Devonshire,Louise, wore at the famous Devonshire Diamand Jubilee House Ball in the 1897
"...The skirt of gold tissue was embroidered all over in a star-like design in emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, and other jewels outlined with gold, the corners where it opened in front being elaborately wrought in the same jewels and gold to represent peacocks' outspread tails.
This opened to show an underdress of cream crepe de chine, delicately embroidered in silver, gold, and pearls and sprinkled all over with diamonds.
The train, which was attached to the shoulders by two slender points and was fastened at the waist with a large diamond ornament, was a green velvet... and was superbly embroidered in Oriental designs introducing the lotus flower in rubies, sapphires, amethysts, emeralds, and diamonds, with four borderings on contrasting grounds, separated with gold cord.
The train was lined with turquoise satin. The bodice was composed of gold tissue to match the skirt, and diamonds, and the front was of crepe de chine hidden with a stomacher of real diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Jewelled belt. A golden crown incrusted with emeralds, diamonds and rubies, with a diamond drop at each curved end and two upstanding white ostrich feathers in the middle, and round the front festoons of pearls with a large pear-shaped pearl in the centre falling on the forehead." The Times "
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: emeraldeyes on May 24, 2007, 12:59:28 PM
I just started reading Nancy's book 'The Pursuit of Love' because of this thread.  It is in a volume along with 'Love in a Cold Climate'.  I wonder how her sisters felt about her use of various aspects of their lives in her characters? 
Also has anyone read the Anne Courcy book about Diana?  Just picked that one up as well, and I'm wondering if I should temporarily put down a book about Vicky Princess Royal to read that one instead.  Opinions?
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: emeraldeyes on May 24, 2007, 07:06:08 PM
According to the website http://albionmonitor.net/decca/sisters.html, Unity (with the middle name Valkyrie) was so named because she was born at the outbreak of World War I (August 8, 1914), a few days after Britain went to war with Germany.  "Unity" expressed the hope that they war would end peacefully.  I'm not sure about the Valkyrie part....

exceprt from "The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family" by Mary S. Lovell:

As regards the time surrounding Unity's conception and birth:

"At about this time David hit on a scheme to end their financial problems.  With his growing family, their limited income must have been the cause of worry to him.  Stories of the rich strikes in the Klondike a decade earlier, perhaps bolstered by his spell of active service in South Africa, seem to have persuaded him that gold-mining might be the answer.  On hearing that a new goldfield had been discovered in Ontario, he staked several claims to forty acres near the small township of Swastika, in the Great Lakes area.  Only small quantities of gold had been found there so far, but a big seam was believed to exist. 
Over the next twenty years or so, David would travel to Ontario many times to work the claim.  He had already been there alone when, in the spring of 1912, he and Sydney decided to go together and - the biggest treat- they were to sail on the maiden voyage of the Titanic.  Fortunately, something happened to make this impossible and their departure was delayed until autumn of the following year.  There, Sydney and David lived in a sturdy, well-built wooden cabin, which they called 'the shack'.  It was basic but it had everything they needed.  There were no staff and Sydney did everything herself, including the cooking and pumping the water by hand.  She even made her own bread, and continued to do this for the remainder of her life.  David, photographed in corduroy knickerbockers, canvas gaiters, warm workmanlike shirt and a leather waistcoat, enjoyed the time he spent there.  It was a rough, masculine environment and he felt at home with the miners, who treated hime with respect and taught him how to crack a stock-whip that he had been given by an Australian miner.  He worked hard and found tiny traces of gold; just enough to keep him enthusiastic.  Meanwhile, there was a massive strike on a neighbouring property owned by Harry Oakes, a prospector who had been mining unsuccessfully for some years.  The Tough-Oakes mine proved the biggest gold mine in Canada, and was a mile or so to the east of David's land, at Kirkland Lake.  Oakes purchased a lakeshore claim and burrowed under the lake after his landlady told him about tine nuggets and flakes of gold she had seen in the streams as a child.  He struck gold almost immediately and issued half a million shares at thirty-five cents each.  Within two years each share was worth seventy dollars and Oakes had kept the majority of them for himself.
It is not difficult to see why David remained keen, although the mining project eventually came to nothing.  Furthermore, he and Sydney were at their closest in the shack at Swastika through the winter in that inhospitable climate, and it was one of the happiest times in David's life.  It was there that Sydney conceived their fifth child.
When the couple returned to London it was to a slightly larger house at 49 Victoria Road, off Kensington High Street.  The new baby was born there, in August 1914, four days after Herbert Asquith declared war to cheering crowds gathered at Downing Sttreet.  Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, David had been on the point of leaving for his gold mine in Canada, but as he watched the situation deteriorate he became anxious to 'do his bit'.  Although he had been classed as permanently unfit because he had only one lung, and knowing it was unlikely he would be allowed to see action, he nevertheless rejoined his old regiment.  On 8 August he got a twelve-hour leave, and the latest addition to his family obliged by being born while he was at home.  It was a girl.  The parents, still hoping for a second boy, were disappointed, but soon came around.  There was time for another boy.  In David's absence Sydney called her Unity after an actress (Unity Moore) she admired, and then Grandfather Redesdale said that she must have a topically apposite second name so they added Valkyrie, after Wagner's Norse war-maidens.  Almost from the time of her birth she was known in family circles as 'Bobo', but with hindsight, Unity Valkyrie's unusual name, combined with the place of her conception, Swastika, seems almost like an eerie prophecy which the fifth Mitford child had no alternative but to fulfil."

You couldn't make that up if you tried... :o
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Martyn on May 25, 2007, 09:57:00 AM
How simply wonderful to see that Worth costume in colour!!! How exciting!  As someone who has pored over those wonderful Lafayette images of all the guests who attended the Devonshire House Ball, I have often wondered quite what those costumes must have looked like in real life and in colour.  That Worth creation is simply stunning.  Thank you so much GDElla for providing that link; it really has made my day to see that costume!

I'm not really a fan of the Devonshire Parure, too heavy for my taste and the effect is not lightened by all of the diamonds having been removed from the settings to furnish other peices of jewellery.  As I recall, this parure, consisting of tiara, coronet, necklace, stomacher and other pieces, was made for a family member (Countess Granville?) to wear in her capacity as ambassadress (to the Court of St Petersburg?)  Still the cameos and intaglios are really beautiful, and very fine, valuable specimens

I was surprised to see that the Cavendishes still possessed Louise von Alten's diamond tiara - really a splendid piece!  I have just finished reading a joint biography of Louise, the double duchess, and her husband - fascinating characters and powerful people in their time.

Debo Devonshire has been a wonderful chatelaine at Chatsworth and I think that she till resides there?  Compared to the very grand Cavendishes and their lengthy history of being wealthy and powerful landowners, the Mitfords were minor aristocracy. She and her husband really stepped up to the mark at a very difficult time for the family - post-war and after the death of the elder brother, the Marquess of Hartington.  Under the care of Debo and her husband, Chatsworth has gone from the strength to strength over the years; the 'Palace of the Peaks' is well worth a visit - one of my very favourite places.

I must add that although Nancy Mitford is best known for 'The Pursuit of Love' and 'Love in a Cold Climate', my two favourite works of hers are her biography of Madame de Pompadour and her book on Louis XIV and his family, 'The Sun King'.  They really are worth a read as they are written with humour and style and really give sparkle to the respective subject matter - absolutely vintage Nancy.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: grandduchessella on May 25, 2007, 11:27:38 AM
How simply wonderful to see that Worth costume in colour!!! How exciting!  As someone who has pored over those wonderful Lafayette images of all the guests who attended the Devonshire House Ball, I have often wondered quite what those costumes must have looked like in real life and in colour.  That Worth creation is simply stunning.  Thank you so much GDElla for providing that link; it really has made my day to see that costume!



No problem, Martyn. You made my day by coming back.  :)

In the Interesting Women of the Nobility Thread (in Their World & Culture), I'm working through the Duchesses of Manchester, including the 'Double Duchess'.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Martyn on May 25, 2007, 11:42:27 AM

No problem, Martyn. You made my day by coming back.  :)

In the Interesting Women of the Nobility Thread (in Their World & Culture), I'm working through the Duchesses of Devonshire, including the 'Double Duchess'.

Oh thank you - too kind.....  :-[

I'll take a look at that thread.  As I said, I have just read a book about Louise, which was not really very satisfying, although it did have some great information about Devonshire House, and of course the ball.  Louise was a fascinating woman and a major player in 19th century British politics and society, but l'll take that up in the appropriate thread; thanks for letting me know about it.  :)
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: ashdean on May 27, 2007, 11:38:25 AM
How simply wonderful to see that Worth costume in colour!!! How exciting!  As someone who has pored over those wonderful Lafayette images of all the guests who attended the Devonshire House Ball, I have often wondered quite what those costumes must have looked like in real life and in colour.  That Worth creation is simply stunning.  Thank you so much GDElla for providing that link; it really has made my day to see that costume!

I'm not really a fan of the Devonshire Parure, too heavy for my taste and the effect is not lightened by all of the diamonds having been removed from the settings to furnish other peices of jewellery.  As I recall, this parure, consisting of tiara, coronet, necklace, stomacher and other pieces, was made for a family member (Countess Granville?) to wear in her capacity as ambassadress (to the Court of St Petersburg?)  Still the cameos and intaglios are really beautiful, and very fine, valuable specimens

I was surprised to see that the Cavendishes still possessed Louise von Alten's diamond tiara - really a splendid piece!  I have just finished reading a joint biography of Louise, the double duchess, and her husband - fascinating characters and powerful people in their time.

Debo Devonshire has been a wonderful chatelaine at Chatsworth and I think that she till resides there?  Compared to the very grand Cavendishes and their lengthy history of being wealthy and powerful landowners, the Mitfords were minor aristocracy. She and her husband really stepped up to the mark at a very difficult time for the family - post-war and after the death of the elder brother, the Marquess of Hartington.  Under the care of Debo and her husband, Chatsworth has gone from the strength to strength over the years; the 'Palace of the Peaks' is well worth a visit - one of my very favourite places.

I must add that although Nancy Mitford is best known for 'The Pursuit of Love' and 'Love in a Cold Climate', my two favourite works of hers are her biography of Madame de Pompadour and her book on Louis XIV and his family, 'The Sun King'.  They really are worth a read as they are written with humour and style and really give sparkle to the respective subject matter - absolutely vintage Nancy.
The Devonshires still own the great diadem because although made for Louise it was made with Devonshire diamonds taken from other gems including the cameo parure ( They were replaced with crystals I think) so they remained Devonshire property as did the great triple sargent portrait of the Acheson sisters....Louises grandaughters but no relations of the Cavendishes.
Much has been written on other sites about Debo selling next month (at Christies) a Cartier diamond necklace...This must be her own property not like the tiaras, the great diamond rivere and the famous rubies... "family jewels" and as an increasingly frail lady..it is doubtful she feels the need for this item AND has the use of the family treasure trove if need be....
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Martyn on May 29, 2007, 07:43:49 AM
The Devonshires still own the great diadem because although made for Louise it was made with Devonshire diamonds taken from other gems including the cameo parure ( They were replaced with crystals I think) so they remained Devonshire property as did the great triple sargent portrait of the Acheson sisters....Louises grandaughters but no relations of the Cavendishes.
Much has been written on other sites about Debo selling next month (at Christies) a Cartier diamond necklace...This must be her own property not like the tiaras, the great diamond rivere and the famous rubies... "family jewels" and as an increasingly frail lady..it is doubtful she feels the need for this item AND has the use of the family treasure trove if need be....

I have only ever seen photos of the cameo parure with empty settings where the diamonds once were set.  I am sure that the diamonds must have lightened the effect of this parure considerably. 

This suite of jewellery is very much of its era, embodying the spirit of the Revivalist taste for classical antique jewels in fashionable pseudo Renaissance settings of the mid-nineteeth century. The set of eighty-eight cameos and intaglios were bought by the 2nd Duke of Devonshire in the early eighteenth century and are a mixture of some very early gems, dating from the first century B.C., from the court workshops of Rome and Alexandria, mixed with examples of Renaissance, Tudor and Stuart engraved gems.  These latter include portraits of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I and Charles I.

It is said that the maker, C.F. Hancock added the 320 diamonds as an afterthought, which also came from the collection of the sixth Duke, who had commissioned the parure.  As the former explained: ' I found it necessary in the progress of the work to put diamonds round the cameos in order to lighten it up otherwise the whole parure would have been heavy and utterly spoilt.'

Countess Granville, the wife of the nephew of the Sixth Duke, initially wore the parure to the Coronation of Alexander II in 1856 and it is easy to see how this suite of jewellery must have complemented court dress at that time.  Coupled with an embroidered velvet court train and the very full skirts of a grande toilette, this parure of seven pieces (four of which are for the head alone!) bandeau comb, coronet, diadem, necklace, stomacher and bracelet must have appeared to great advantage.

Countess Granville wore the parure again in 1857 to a State Ball at Buckingham Palace, this time with a white satin gown trimmed with flowers and diamonds........

Duchess Louise's tiara was thus made from the diamonds formerly set in this parure by a jeweller called A.E.Skinner of Orchard Street.  This tiara consists of 'twelve honeysuckle ornaments with fourteen between pieces resting on a two-row bandeau with collets in between.'  It is set with 1,097 diamonds, of which apparently 1,041 of which were 'broken from old ornaments', including the 320 stones from the Devonshire cameo parure.

It does seem that the cameo parure by this time had become outmoded and thus had to surrender its stones to furnish Louise with something that no peeress could seemingly be without - the ubiquitous diamond tiara...........
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Arleen on May 29, 2007, 09:23:17 AM
I am so happy that you are back Martyn, I am quite beside myself!  Missed you dreadfully!

Arleen
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Martyn on May 29, 2007, 11:44:11 AM
Oh thank you Arleen!

I just hope that I can contribute something again.........
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Janet_W. on May 29, 2007, 01:39:56 PM
I'm also very happy to see you back, Martyn! And didn't realize until now that you had returned, so hope that what ever kept you away has been resolved and that you're doing well.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Martyn on May 30, 2007, 07:39:24 AM
I'm also very happy to see you back, Martyn! And didn't realize until now that you had returned, so hope that what ever kept you away has been resolved and that you're doing well.

Thank you Janet, I am both well and glad to be back!
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Lord Rossmore on December 25, 2009, 04:51:28 PM
Hi i thought id start this new thread, Its appears that alot of the Pictures from the first Mitford Thread are blank with little red x's in them. Could someone repost those pictures as id love to see them, My Interest mainly lies with Debo, current (Dowager Duchess of Devonshire). Also was Wondering if anyone had the Picture of the Duchess of Devonshire on Coronation Day in her Coronation Robes with the Marquis of Hartington as her page. Many thanks in advance.
Title: Re: The Mitfords
Post by: Kalafrana on February 21, 2010, 12:36:22 PM
From all I've heard about them, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (as she is now) is lovely and not at all pretentious, and the old duke was lovely too. A lady who was a sort of grandmother figure to me and who died recently knew the Duchess from girlhood and told me the following tale which I particularly like.

My friend Olivia was visiting Chatsworth at a time when the Duke was about to go to London for an important debate in the House of Lords. 'How are you getting there?' says she over tea.
'X is going to take me to the station and I'll get the train.'
'And when you get to London?'
'Oh I'll get a taxi. But don't tell Debo. She thinks I should go by Tube!'

This is entirely my personal opinion, but I think Unity was one of those people who are intelligent (she learned German very rapidly) but have absolutely no sense. I have no time for Diana whatever, and no sympathy for her being interned during the war. An invasion was expected imminently and the authorities simply could not take the risk. Having recently read the Lovell book, I think that apart from the Duchess the one I'd have got on best would have been Pamela - the rest were far too noisy and exhausting!

Ann