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. Nancy, the scalding wit who parlayed her family life into bestselling novels. Diana, the fascist jailed with her husband, Oswald Mosley, during WWII. Unity, a suicide, torn by her worship of Hitler and her loyalty to home. Debo, who adored pleasure and fun, and found herself Duchess of Devonshire. Pamela, who craved nothing more than a quiet country life. Jessica, the runaway, a communist and fighter for social change. The Mitfords became myth in their own time: the great wits and beauties of their age, they were immoderate in their passions for ideas and people. Virtually spanning the century, these letters between the sisters -- alternately touching and explosive -- constitute a superb social chronicle, and explore with disarming intimacy their shifting relationships. As editor Charlotte Mosley notes, not since the Brontes has a single family written so much about themselves, or been so written about. Their letters are widely recognized to contain the best of their writing. Mosley, Diana's niece, will select from an archive of 18,000, to which she has exclusive access. Key title / The Mitfords are a cottage industry: sales of 'The Pursuit of Love', Nancy's most popular novel, remain very healthy Interest at acquisition was so high that preemptive first serial offers were made. / Editor Charlotte Mosley, niece of Diana Mosley, has edited two previous and very successful selections of Nancy Mitford's letters; she has exclusive access to the 18,000-letter archive at Chatsworth House. / The vast majority of the letters have never before been seen, including letters from Unity, the Hitler supporter who shot herself at the outbreak of World War II, and Diana's letters from Holloway Prison.
Charlotte Mosely has worked as a publisher and journalist. She is married to Alexander, Diana Mitford's son. 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).
The lost art of letter writing is splendidly portrayed in this massive volume of correspondence among the six Mitford sisters: Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah. As editor Mosley, Diana's daughter-in-law, explains, "the sisters' enduring reputation owes much to their originality, forceful opinions, and good looks." Mosley drew from a vast archive of some 12,000 letters held by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, the sole surviving sister. The letters she chose-most never before published-emphasize the relationships between and among the sisters. Arranged chronologically covering the years 1925-2002, they include footnotes identifying people, places, and activities. In introductions to each of the nine sections of letters, Mosley provides a synopsis of the major events in each sister's life as well as thoughtful commentary and analysis. As Mosley contends and the letters confirm, "the sisters wrote to each other to confide, commiserate, tease, rage and gossip but above all they wrote to amuse." Since four of them were published authors with international best sellers, it is not surprising that their letters are clever and humorous; but they are also poignant and revealing. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. [For a profile of this book, see "Editors' Fall Picks," p. 32-38; see also Prepub Alert, LJ 7/07.]-Kathryn R. Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
'"The Mitfords" are all competitively exasperating!but slowly, cumulatively, as age and death are stared gallantly in the eye, I ended in tears.' The Guardian 'The letters are all compulsively readable!and have a funny, sharp and stylish freshness that suggests they could have just pinged into your inbox'.' The Times Pick of the Week '"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 '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
The six notorious and passionately opinionated daughters of the second Baron Redesdale knew many key figures of the 20th century, from Hitler and Churchill to Evelyn Waugh and Lucian Freud. The sisters wrote some 12,000 letters to each other over a span of 80 years-the last was a fax sent in 2003 by 83-year-old Deborah to the dying 93-year-old Diana-and 5% are included here. The turbulent years before and during WWII produced the most noteworthy correspondence: Jessica scandalized her family by running away with her Communist cousin, and Diana divorced a Guinness heir to marry British fascist leader Oswald Mosley. Anti-Semitic Unity gushes like a schoolgirl over Hitler and tells Jessica that she wouldn't hesitate to kill Jessica's Communist husband for Nazism-but in the meanwhile she hopes they can be friends. Nancy writes cheerily to the imprisoned Diana after secretly testifying against her during the war. In later years, Jessica irritated her sisters from her home in America and broke completely with Diana over political differences. Peppered with colorful nicknames, filled with love, encouragement, jealousy and gossip, and written primarily to amuse the recipients, the letters testify to the bonds of sisterhood. Diana's daughter-in-law has diligently edited the mammoth correspondence, although readers will need to fill in the gaps with Mitford biographies and memoirs. B&w illus. (Nov. 6) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.