The Mitford family holds a certain fascination for me. In their heydey they were so glamorous and intriguing that I tend to overlook the more controversial aspects of their character. Their lives make an aristocratic prism through which to view events of the twentieth century. Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah gained fame as Bright Young Things, then infamy as they got involved in various political causes. Of course, along the way they found time to pen a few books, among the most notable Nancy’s Love in a Cold Climate and Jessica’s The American Way of Death.
Mary S. Lovell’s biography The Mitford Girls is probably the most comprehensive work on them, but a new collection of letters between the sisters presents the human side to their sometimes frightening stiff-upper-lipness. The Mitfords : letters between six sisters features never before published correspondence and has the same gossipy wit and sense of tragedy that is evident in their books. The sisters never shied from self-promotion, and it becomes clear that they were only too well aware that their prodigious correspondence helped secure their place in history.