The wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Fascists. A beautiful woman. She was "sophisticated."
Let's discuss her and her life. She appears in DL comments from time to time.
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The wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Fascists. A beautiful woman. She was "sophisticated."
Let's discuss her and her life. She appears in DL comments from time to time.
|by Anonymous||reply 80||January 22, 2023 6:19 PM|
Sue Lawley holds back no punches on her Nazi ties on Desert Island Discs. Good for Sue!
|by Anonymous||reply 1||September 9, 2022 5:33 PM|
|by Anonymous||reply 2||September 9, 2022 5:54 PM|
Her whacky family is endlessly interesting. The Sisters by Mary Lovell is one of the best biographies I've ever read.
|by Anonymous||reply 3||September 9, 2022 5:55 PM|
R3 Is it about them?
|by Anonymous||reply 4||September 9, 2022 6:05 PM|
I hope that her death was excruciating.
|by Anonymous||reply 5||September 9, 2022 6:21 PM|
She died in her bed, aged 93, in Paris and was in good health to the end. Not much of a punishment.
|by Anonymous||reply 6||September 9, 2022 6:26 PM|
R4 yes about the Mitford sisters. It's fascinating. And I just listened to the Desert Island Discs posted by OP. It's outrageous! She's completely unrepentant about loving fascists and Hitler. Truly a DL icon.
|by Anonymous||reply 7||September 9, 2022 6:33 PM|
She was a fascist till her dying day. Cunt.
|by Anonymous||reply 8||September 9, 2022 6:34 PM|
Nasty, unrepentant racist to the end.
Her cousin Winston Churchill actually put her in prison during WWII because she was considered a danger. She was a traitor to her country - on the side of the wrong side.
|by Anonymous||reply 9||September 9, 2022 6:39 PM|
Diana the scandalous one. Nancy Mitford was the one you would want to know. Deborah M. Cavendish was the lucky one. Jessica, Unity, and Pamela were interesting as part of a whole set.
Nancy's letters with Evelyn Waugh are quite interesting, often funny, and not a little sad for her constant scrambling and dissatisfaction. She seems to have found Diana exasperating for all the obvious reasons. Whether it was her circumstances if the Guinness marriage, she seemed well liked or at least mostly well tolerated in those early years, but Mosley was a horrible man and seemed to brought out her worst qualities and set her in a course of developing them further.
Money -- the want of it, the bad habits of having once had it, the having of it, and the refusal of it...money is always more front and center than politics to judge from diaries and correspondence.
|by Anonymous||reply 10||September 9, 2022 6:41 PM|
Our current bunch of traitors are largely motivated by $$ rather than ideology (in fact, they really have no ideology beyond the Almighty $$). Makes you wonder what inspires a woman (and her sisters sounded like much of the same) of privilege to literally turn her back on her country. Yes, she was a racist & an anti-jew, but most of them don't go full traitor.
|by Anonymous||reply 11||September 9, 2022 6:41 PM|
Diana and Oswald Mosley (leader of the British Union of Fascists) secretly married on 6 October 1936 in the drawing room of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler, Robert Gordon-Canning and Bill Allen were in attendance.
|by Anonymous||reply 12||September 9, 2022 6:42 PM|
Something that has always fascinated me is that a tabloid exposed her son Max Mosley (who became the boss of Formula One) as being into Nazi fetish orgies where women role played Nazis. His parents must have given him quite the complex.
|by Anonymous||reply 13||September 9, 2022 6:57 PM|
She died during a Paris heat wave, probably of heat stroke.
|by Anonymous||reply 14||September 9, 2022 7:01 PM|
R5 She had a stroke and died two weeks later in the middle of the insane 2003 Paris heat wave. No air conditioning
|by Anonymous||reply 15||September 9, 2022 7:02 PM|
I’ll take it, r115.
|by Anonymous||reply 16||September 9, 2022 7:08 PM|
What a terrible way to die, but the Jews had it worse.
|by Anonymous||reply 17||September 9, 2022 9:12 PM|
R10 I'd say Jessica would be the most interesting to meet. She and her husband were Communist Party members in the '40-50s, and he was a radical SF lawyer who employed Hilary Clinton as an intern.
Then there's The American Way of Death and her takedown of Bennett Cerf in her Famous Writers School exposé, quoting him thusly:
"Oh, come on, you must be pulling my leg—no person of any sophistication, whose book we'd publish, would have to take a mail-order course to learn how to write. . . The crux of it is a very hard sales pitch, an appeal to the gullible. Of course, once somebody has signed a contract with Famous Writers he can't get out of it, but that's true with every business in the country."
And she became an American, to boot.
|by Anonymous||reply 18||September 9, 2022 9:40 PM|
I can't stand communists just as much as fascists. They are both stupid extremists to me whose regimes lead to the deaths of millions. The ONLY politically smart Mitford sister is Nancy. She was the most intelligent/sensible, and most accomplished as a published author whose books are still read together. (Pamela and Deborah were relatively inoffensive but had no real political opinions.)
|by Anonymous||reply 19||September 9, 2022 9:47 PM|
*today, not together!
|by Anonymous||reply 20||September 9, 2022 9:47 PM|
R30 Nancy was an utter snob. Give me a down-to-earth ex-Commie any day.
|by Anonymous||reply 21||September 9, 2022 10:26 PM|
R21 Nah, her books are too good. I love them, from her The Sun King biography to Don't Tell Alfred.
|by Anonymous||reply 22||September 9, 2022 10:31 PM|
R21 Also, Commies aren't down to earth in my experience. Most of them are upper middle class with no common sense. Most actual working class people have a bucket load more of common sense.
|by Anonymous||reply 23||September 9, 2022 10:33 PM|
I've read nearly everything there is to read for and by the Mitfords. All the sisters were fascinating and beautiful. Diana was the most fascinating and beautiful of the six. Not the oldest, she married first, to the fabulously wealthy and handsome Bryan Guinness who lavished her with homes, jewelry, art, and puppy love. She was the toast of 30s London: artists clamored to paint her, she attended the parties of the Bright Young Things. Evelyn Waugh dedicated Vile Bodies to the Guinnesses. But she threw that all way for Oswald Mosley, the up and coming politician with whom she shared a sexual passion that rivaled on obsession. She did the unthinkable and left her handsome husband who adored her. Lucky for Diana, Mosley's first wife died years into their affair, which allowed them to get married. Understanding Diana requires the use of critical thinking, nuance, and context, which is why she continues to be such a reviled and polarizing figure to this day. So much of what is published about her is conjecture fueled by the justified hatred of Fascists and horror of the atrocities of WWII, not Diana herself. Diana, who voted Liberal before her relationship with Mosley, was swept up in the Fascist Party due to her devotion to her husband. When Diana went to prison at the start of the war, she was sent to the notoriously archaic Holloway indefinitely, without charge or trial or a release date to look forward to. Official government documents described her as smarter and more dangerous than her husband, as well as "wildly ambitious". She later expressed horror at the violence and death the Nazis wrought, and in hindsight it's all obvious, but Diana didn't have the benefit of hindsight in the 1930s. After the Mosley's were released from prison, they moved to France and occupied the dramatically named gorgeous "Temple of Glory" estate for 40+ years. Most of her friends were gay men, half of them were Jewish. She remained beautiful for the rest of her life, no longer able to enjoy music at the end of her life due to deafness, she was an avid reader to the end, dying in her Paris apartment at 93. In this era of Notes App Instagram apologies, Diana respected herself too much to betray herself in order to tell people what they wanted to hear. Her acknowledgment of Hitler's evil acts and simultaneous charm and good manners make people uncomfortable. It's easier to believe he was 100% a monster. I think it adds a dimension of humanity and depth to a period of history that is looked at in broad terms.
|by Anonymous||reply 24||September 9, 2022 10:40 PM|
It is spring 2002. Her flat is in the Septième district, the Mayfair of Paris, on a corner overlooking a large garden with grass and trees. There are French windows on two sides and the sunshine makes patches on Empire cabinets and comfortable sofas. A tall, slim, upright woman, dressed in beige wool, brown suede shoes, and pearl earrings is walking towards me with hands outstretched. "Have you come all the way from Saint Tropez?"
"No, from London."
"You must be so tired."
"No, I came on Friday evening."
"How clever. What will you have to drink?"
She has a wide smile, which seeps upwards into soft, eau-de-Nil blue eyes. And she's full-on. Can this really be Diana Mosley, 92 years old this year, once the most beautiful woman in England, then the most amusing, the most notorious, and eventually the most hated? More than 50 years of exile in Paris don't seem to have done her a great deal of harm. Once upon a time everyone knew the outline of her story. But fewer do these days, so here it is again. She began as a Mitford, sister to Nancy, Jessica, Debo, Unity, Pam, Tom. At the age of 18 she married rich Bryan Guinness, and they became the star couple of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Evelyn Waugh described their milieu in his second novel, Vile Bodies, which he finished while staying with them in Bryan's parents' flat at 12 rue de Poitiers - only a couple of streets from where we are today. Waugh dedicated the novel to them both, "with love", then promptly fell out with Diana and didn't talk to her again for 25 years.
Notoriety came in the 1930s. She attended the Nuremberg rallies with her sister Unity, who introduced her to Hitler. Diana fell in love with the leader of the British Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley (baronet), her adored "Kit". After divorcing a devastated Bryan she set up in Belgravia as a single mother with her two young Guinness sons, Jonathan and Desmond. In 1936 Diana and Unity were the personal guests of Hitler at the Berlin Olympic Games. In the same year Diana secretly married Mosley in Goebbels' drawing-room in Berlin - Hitler was guest of honour. This was through her friendship with Magda Goebbels, who was the first lady of the Third Reich, Hitler being unmarried. Mosley and Hitler didn't click (this was one of only two occasions they ever met).
Diana had two sons with Mosley: Alexander and Max. At the outbreak of the war Unity shot herself in Munich - she never really recovered and died in 1948. Diana was left as the only person in the world on terms of personal intimacy with both Hitler and Churchill (who had married her father's cousin). But events had moved beyond her. In 1940 Mosley was arrested and imprisoned. Several weeks later so was Diana, and she spent three and a half years of the war in Holloway. What was the effect of all this on her four sons?
"The two who were at school were called Guinness - so that helped. But Max and Ali, oh I'm sure they must have suffered. No school would take them, so we got a tutor, and later on Ali went to school in Paris and Max in Germany."
"Has their relationship with England been soured?"
"Certainly not with Max. I think Ali does prefer France. When Max was at school in Germany not long after the war, the school inspector came round and asked each boy a few questions, always including: 'What was your father's profession?' When they came to Max he answered 'Faschistenführer'. They were very cross with him - and not unduly."
There were, in addition, her three step-children from Mosley's previous marriage. The eldest is the present Lord Ravensdale, better known as the novelist Nicholas Mosley. "I'm furious with him now. The books he wrote about his father were so disloyal." Lord Ravensdale, of course, does not accept that. The two of them long battled over the issue but have now given up trying to speak to each other.
|by Anonymous||reply 25||September 9, 2022 10:40 PM|
CONT. "Oswald Mosley had an affair with his dead wife's sister," I venture, tentatively.
"With both of Cynthia's sisters I think," Diana informs me.
"This must have been very shocking for you."
"Well, not really. I think it's very common."
"But you were still young - he was your new love - you surely found it painful."
"Only marginally. I think if you're going to mind infidelity, you better call it a day as far as marriage goes. Because who has ever remained faithful? I mean, they don't. There's passion and that's it."
"You're obviously not a jealous person."
"Not very, no. I might be jealous of a deep friendship, something like that. But not sexually jealous. Kit and Baba always had this thing for each other, and it's life. And with sex, opportunity is so important."
"There's always plenty of opportunity!"
"No, there isn't. Not always."
"Did you have any amours after Sir Oswald?"
"Ah, well, like Wilde I can resist anything except temptation - but I was never in the slightest degree tempted."
Lunch has begun, served by the maid at a table at the other end of the drawing-room. Diana had said: "I invited Jean-Noël to join us. I hope you don't mind, because my hearing is so bad and he can help." Which he has been doing, sometimes by shouting what I've just said or by writing it down. Jean-Noël is in his thirties with thick black hair which flows upwards. Later on he says: "Diana is my best friend. I visit her three or four times a week."
The first course was tomato and mozzarella salad and now we're tucking into roast chicken with vegetables. Well, I am - the other two eat very modestly. There's a feature I haven't seen on a private lunch table for many years: finger bowls, in emerald glass. Beneath the table is a smart rug of black and white diamonds.
"What is your favourite thing in this room?"
"My clock and barometer." She indicates the French gilt pair hanging on the wall opposite the windows. "They belonged to my great great grandfather really - but I bought them at one of my father's many sales. He was always having to sell things and always at the bottom of the market."
The voice is not plummy, is not the Oxford or Bloomsbury drawl, but the perky cut-glass deb voice of the 1920s and 1930s. It is very clear, and she has almost flawless grammar besides. Cheese - Diana doesn't have any - and green avocado salad are followed by a superb chocolate flake with lozenges of gold leaf on top. After coffee we decamp to the sofa.
"There's a new book saying Hitler was homosexual."
"I'm sure he was not homosexual - because that sort of thing I do more or less understand." (Diana has always had gay friends, from Lytton Strachey onwards.) "With someone like General Montgomery - it may well have been unconscious - but all the ADCs and other people around him were very good-looking young men. And I believe it was the same with Kitchener. Well, now, Hitler's adjutants were sort of ..."
"Gnarled old men, they really were. They were very, very sweet but I'm afraid not the least bit good-looking. That just is the answer really, these were the people Hitler loved being with."
"It's widely accepted now that his relationship with Eva Braun wasn't sexual either."
"One can't be utterly sure about anyone - except oneself. But I don't think sex was a big appetite in him."
"Which is strange. Because very powerful men are usually very sexual too. Was he like a eunuch?"
"Like a eunuch? No, but, well, there was no question of anything between him and me but, you know, one can still feel it - and with Hitler one couldn't."
|by Anonymous||reply 26||September 9, 2022 10:41 PM|
CONT. Unity Mitford calculated that between 1935 and 1939 she met Hitler 140 times. She introduced him to the rest of the family. Their mother explained to Hitler the value of wholemeal bread. And how many times did Diana meet him?
"Not as many as Unity. But ever so many times."
"I wish he'd been something," I say. "He might not have murdered so many people. Don't you think it would have been better for Europe if Hitler had had a sex life?"
"Yes, it might have been but what about old Musso, who had a terrific sex life?"
"Exactly. Compared to Hitler he was hopeless at destroying people."
"He was made hopeless because he had a very unsoldierlike population. They didn't follow him. However, he was all for setting everything on fire, wasn't he?"
"Is it true that Hitler used to do comic impersonations of Mussolini?"
"Quite true. Hitler could be very, very, very funny."
"At the end of the war, when the newsreels of the death camps appeared at the cinema, what was your reaction?"
"Well, of course, horror. Utter horror. Exactly the same probably as your reactions."
"Why didn't you have a revulsion against Hitler because of this?"
"I had a complete revulsion against the people who did it but I could never efface from my memory the man I had actually experienced before the war. A very complicated feeling. I can't really relate those two things to each other. I know I'm not supposed to say that but I just have to."
Diana is one of the people who cuts across our loyalties and preconceptions. Her disregard for public opinion is very attractive but it has prevented her rehabilitation. She alone from that time refuses to let us dismiss Hitler as pure evil. Hitler has his human side, she insists. He was one of us. This makes him even more frightening, which may not be what she intended. The classic nightmare - the friendly face turns into a monster - is something she refuses to have. Perhaps at some level there is a conflation between Hitler and her husband. Oswald Mosley used to strut around in a black costume of his own devising. He was the Errol Flynn of British politics, except of course he wasn't acting. To reject Hitler would be to reject her husband, and that she cannot do. This was probably burned into her during those years in Holloway.
"Going to prison turned out to be quite a surprise," she says.
"In what way?"
"It went on and on. Three and a half years is a helluva long time."
"But it must have made you strong."
"To know that you could do it."
"Of course there's prison and prison. I mean I wasn't tortured."
After 18 months her husband was transferred to Holloway to be with her. "All we had was an enormous wall, a tree, and sort of asphalt. Then Kit and the old man who was in prison with us made a marvellous garden and we grew fraises des bois, which do very well in soot."
Her sister Jessica and Nancy Cunard were among those who protested against her release.
"Did the Nazi movement attract you in the 1930s?"
"Not particularly, no. It was Unity who was absolutely overwhelmed with the heavenliness of it."
"Did you ever have a black shirt?"
"Did I ever have a black child?"
"A black shirt!" Jean-Noël backs me up.
Gales of laughter. "No. I wasn't really a militant."
"Did you not think the Nazis were vulgar?"
"Well, you see, it was a complete revolution. Do you call that vulgar? It was also a choice at the time between fascism and Communism. I am very anti-Communist. They made a miserable life for almost everyone."
|by Anonymous||reply 27||September 9, 2022 10:42 PM|
CONT. The question of vulgarity lingered, for in a subsequent letter she elaborated the point: "I thought about the vulgarity of National Socialists. They were never vulgar in the way, for example, a Tory conference with ladies in hats singing "Wider Still and Wider", is. I think the answer may be music. My brother, a very musical man, used to say it's so unfair, they've got all the best tunes. Which, of course, for marches and anthems they had. When Hitler made an important speech at the closing session of the Parteitag, a marvellous orchestra would play a Bruckner symphony before he spoke, with the world's press anxious to hear what he was going to say. The choice of music was so un-vulgar."
Though never publicly dissociating herself from Hitler, she did once say to Nicholas Mosley that Hitler ruined her life. "I said it only because I got fed up with being asked why I didn't hate Hitler enough. He ruined my life in that Hitler really began the war - though he was pushed into it. To me the biggest atrocity of all was the war. I'm as near a pacifist as makes no difference. So it would be truer to say that the war ruined my life. But again, not really. I've had a very good life as well. Lots of lovely times since then."
"What makes you feel guilty, generally speaking?"
"I don"t feel terribly guilty, actually. I don't suffer from remorse. What I suffer from is when things go wrong for the people I love. That I can hardly bear."
After the war the Mosleys farmed for five and a half years in the English countryside. They were refused passports and so had to borrow a boat to escape to their next destination, which was Ireland. Then to France, to a house on the edge of Paris called le Temple de la Gloire. The British Embassy ostracised them.
"There was a complete ban on us from the beginning. One ambassador in the early 1970s did invite us. He just didn't realise. So we accepted, and about three days later the poor man had to withdraw the invitation. He'd discovered we were on the Foreign Office blacklist."
"They still don't. I should feel I'd done something awful if I suddenly got an invitation!"
The Mosley name was poison after the war, but not to such an extent that they felt obliged to change it. When I mentioned this on a fax she replied: "I laughed at the idea of changing our name. I was so proud of my husband, especially the fact that Mosley opposed the war which so reduced our country that it cannot be compared with the England of my youth."
Diana has always said that her brain tumour, which developed soon after her husband's death in 1980, helped her deal with the shock of losing him. Even her appearance on Desert Island Discs in 1989 was highly controversial. Its broadcast had to be rescheduled several times because it kept coinciding with Jewish holy days. And yet despite her questionable past, Diana continues to make unlikely friends and keep them. She is extremely considerate, very clever and a terrible tease. Her warmth of personality is captivating.
"To what do you attribute your longevity?"
"Oh. It must be the genes, mustn't it."
"And your other strengths?"
"Love of life. And in a way - contentedness. I'm not discontented. I've no reason to be now but I have had in the past."
"Would you have preferred to end your days in England?"
"I don't care where it is as long as it's quick! The Greeks said that all death is good provided that it is sudden."
We meet again a year later in the spring of 2003. After another delectable lunch - my goodness, this woman does know how to entertain - we retreat to the sofa by the window.
"How did you come to meet Evelyn Waugh?"
"He was a friend of my first husband at Oxford. There were a group of them. We were all tremendous friends from the end of 1928. You should remember that in 1930 I was only 20. I was very fond of Harold Acton, Evelyn Waugh, John Sutro, and a little later of John Betjeman. I think those were the ones we loved."
|by Anonymous||reply 28||September 9, 2022 10:43 PM|
Gag. Nice simpering re-evaluation but Diana denied that the Nazis had killed so many Jews way late into old age, and supported Hitler throughout the war.
|by Anonymous||reply 29||September 9, 2022 10:44 PM|
CONT. "Vile Bodies was finished in that flat round the corner here, wasn't it?"
"I was pregnant with my first son so we came to Paris in the autumn of 1929. My parents-in-law had this flat which they never used, marvellous servants in it, a wonderful cook. So we borrowed it and had people to stay, my sister Nancy, Evelyn, they were all writing books. My husband was writing one too."
"How long was Waugh with you in Paris?"
"I should think a fortnight. Not long. We were always on the move in those days. Evelyn's first marriage had broken up - or it was just happening. He was so cheerful and full of jokes that one could not imagine that he was suffering, but apparently underneath he was. His first wife was a pretty little person, but I think quite silly."
"Did he change after his divorce?"
"He did. Vile Bodies was his first success and success changed him but what really changed him was religion."
"The break with Waugh - there's something not quite right - he contrived it perhaps."
She shrugs, sighs, puts her head on one side, and looks at me with those limpid eyes. "We were such great friends. I couldn't go out much because I was going to have the baby. Towards the end of that period he was more or less the only person who came to dinner. Of course the moment I was free from the baby I wanted to rush - you've got to remember I was only 19."
"You married and started a family early. Would you like to have had a career?"
"Not really. I"m too lazy. And a lot of the places I rushed, Evelyn probably didn't know the people. He'd become very possessive and got terribly cross and started saying you can't have so-and-so to dinner. Everything I did was wrong. Since I had a lot of people who thought what I did was all right, I preferred to see them. One doesn't want somebody carping all the time. But I missed him very much."
"After the war he explained that it was because he'd fallen in love with you."
"But it feels more social insecurity than infatuation."
|by Anonymous||reply 30||September 9, 2022 10:44 PM|
CONT. "A bit of both. When I came to write my memoirs I thought: why was there a rift? I wrote to him and he said it was jealousy. I wrote back and asked why was it jealousy, and he said I'd put Robert Byron and Harold Acton above him. Well, it wasn't true." By the end of 1930 it was all over, "though we kept noticing each other at parties, sort of in the distance".
"Did you meet him properly again?"
"After the war we occasionally lunched together. Never a cross word, I'm glad to say. When we were living in Wiltshire I had to go up to London for the dentist. We had Gerald Berners staying with us, who was furious with me for going to London for the whole day. When I got back he was on the doorstep and asked: 'What did you do?' and I said: 'I lunched with Evelyn, who told me that he prays for me every day.' And Gerald said: 'God doesn't pay any attention to Evelyn'."
Diana is wearing a white polo-neck sweater and a black wool suit with jet, brass-ringed buttons. Was Givenchy her favoured couturier?
"Yes. Balenciaga was greater but he was long beyond my purse - very expensive - but I had heaps of second-hand things by him, and used to parade very successfully in those."
"So Givenchy was less expensive?"
"Yes, Givenchy had a boutique. I never bought clothes from what they call upstairs, which was the expensive part. But in the boutique you could choose something and they'd give you a fitting, or even two. Debo had heaps of things from him and I had quite a few and do you know I still wear them - they haven't dated at all. If I put on something Hubert has made I always feel in the height of fashion."
"Well, you are. All these Mitford books and Mosley books. It's getting out of hand. And there's a new biography of your second husband coming. The author says that, contrary to what was always claimed, the British Fascists did receive funding from the Nazis before the war - and that the courier of the money was you."
"What we did do was try to set up this commercial radio station in Germany, but the war put a stop to that. As for the money I am supposed to have carried from Berlin to the British Union of Fascists, it's just another lie. It's such luck I am still alive because I can swear to its untruth. If I were dead, as most people are at my age, who could be certain?"
|by Anonymous||reply 31||September 9, 2022 10:44 PM|
Flattering portrait of an overrated beauty.
|by Anonymous||reply 32||September 9, 2022 10:47 PM|
The only communist I know is working class, and it struck me as she was explaining her philosophy and how she came to call herself a communist that I have far more in common with a communist than I do with any Republican.
|by Anonymous||reply 33||September 9, 2022 10:47 PM|
R29 She said at the beginning she found it difficult to believe the numbers reported, but acknowledged that one death is as morally wrong as one million deaths.
|by Anonymous||reply 34||September 9, 2022 10:48 PM|
Diana writing to sister Deborah in the 1990s: "I’m not nearly as clever as you are & I terribly regret your one blind spot, you would LOVE not just Proust, but Flaubert, Henry James, George Eliot, Goethe’s novels, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov, all these brilliant treasures & many more. I think possibly it comes from impatience, you want to be up & doing, well you are & think of the wonderful achievements! You have got the patience to plant trees, hedges, you know they take ages but once they’re in they grow & you can be doing again, something else. You don’t want to sit ruminating over a book, you want quick action. I do regret it, I can’t help it, thinking how you would laugh at Proust’s jokes or be terrified by Conrad’s descrip of the slow fire in a cargo of coal ready to turn & drown them all if the wind changes. It’s true my world is peopled by characters in books, & it’s a mystery how you, so interested in human nature, can do without it seen through eyes of genius. But perhaps it’s clever nature at work which gave you a task far more important than just loving to read. Your fund of wonderful human sympathy is much more unselfish, in fact reading is selfish & would probably waste your time which you spend making life bearable for one & all. So in the end I applaud your choice. It is much cleverer to do than just to think."
|by Anonymous||reply 35||September 9, 2022 10:52 PM|
Deborah on Diana: "In the 1950s my mother-in-law did voluntary work in the East End of London. She was a friend of Bunny Mellon, wife of the Anglophile philanthropist Paul Mellon…She heard of the poverty among the women and how cheered they would be by some new clothes, so on her return to America she arranged for what looked like cardboard coffins to be sent to Moucher at Eaton Square. Out came wondrous garments by Balenciaga: brocade evening dresses, a black winter coat lavishly trimmed with black mink, and piles of less showy but beautifully made coats, skirts and cocktail dresses. Moucher said that my sisters and I could take our pick, which we did, replacing the Balenciagas with decent, unworn clothes of our own that satisfied my mother-in-law’s charitable purposes. The master couturier’s clothes had come to a good home: they were well out of our reach to buy first-hand, but no one could have appreciated them more and we wore them time and again. Diana looked dangerously beautiful in the black coat with black mink facings. We met for lunch one day in London, at the Aperitif Restaurant in Jermyn Street, she a vision in The Coat. We sat down and looked round. I spied Paul Mellon and said, ‘Oh, I must go and say hello.’ Diana gave a scream and tried to make herself look small (impossible), terrified that he would recognize his wife’s coat and snatch it off her back. She and Nancy shared a white satin evening dress they called ‘Robeling’, which was kept for the grandest occasions. Nancy also had one of those simple linen dresses that are immediately recognizable (by those accustomed to such luxuries) as the very height of haute couture. She wore it in Venice where a friend remarked on it. 'Oh well,’ said Nancy, 'I always think one should have ONE good dress.’ It was so like her not to admit to its origin."
|by Anonymous||reply 36||September 9, 2022 10:53 PM|
“It is impossible to forgive Unity. She condemned herself out of her own mouth.” -Diana
|by Anonymous||reply 37||September 9, 2022 10:53 PM|
From Anne de Courcy's bio on Diana: "Diana in her early forties was more compelling than ever. ‘I think she is the most flawlessly beautiful woman I have ever seen,’ wrote her old admire James Lees-Milne in August 1953. ‘Clear, creamy complexion, straight nose, deep blue eyes and grey-gold hair dressed in a Grecian bun swept rather to one side of her nape. Her figure so slim. She is just as beautiful as she was at 17 and more so than when first married.’"
|by Anonymous||reply 38||September 9, 2022 10:54 PM|
“She looks like a beautiful, aging bit of sculpture (is 59)… her hair is almost white, no make-up, marvelous figure, same large, perfect face and huge eyes.” — Jessica Mitford on meeting her sister Diana for the first time in 30 years.
|by Anonymous||reply 39||September 9, 2022 10:55 PM|
Nancy Mitford: A Portait by Her Sisters, 1980.
[Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire to her sister Jessica Mitford, 24 Feb 1980]
Honks [Diana] & Sir O & Woman [Pamela] & I went to see the film of us re Nancy last week, also Jonathan & Middy. We squeezed into a tiny room in a basement in Soho among Porn, Hard & Soft (whatever that may mean), & saw the uncut version.
You will SCREAM - Woman’s the star, absolutely at ease & saying things like ‘Of course it was most unusual for ANYONE to travel 3rd class in those days.’ I love the idea of masses of 3rd class carriages thundering empty through the length and breadth of England. She is brill, & reading about the Chubb Fuddler on a tree stump by the Windrush.
Diana & I are v. boringly discreet, I look like a headmistress about to retire & sit absolutely still. Honks looks 1,000, which she doesn’t in real life. Her house looks beautiful, which it does in real life. You are practiced in the art, the only one of us (except Honks, once) who has done it before, oh how unfair. The view from your typewriter is distinctly limited, oh Hen fancy staring into a wall when between words, how can you think what to put.
Julian says there is much alteration to do, viz. he has left out all re Mitford voice & awfulness thereof but he’s going to put that in.
Much love, Yr Hen
|by Anonymous||reply 40||September 9, 2022 10:56 PM|
Ugh, she sounds like an insufferable glib bitch. Instead of imprisoning her during the war, they should've made the whole family dig ditches.
|by Anonymous||reply 41||September 9, 2022 10:59 PM|
Some years ago I read the Mitford sisters' letters collected by a daughter in law or something like that and the vapidity of them was godawful.
R32. Absolutely agree. Just go look at Google images and she looks pretty plain in a lot of photos.
|by Anonymous||reply 42||September 9, 2022 11:10 PM|
Girls from "good families" whose bad behavior was tolerated and moral shortcomings ignored. Looks greatly overrated to prop up the idea their linage is important to the rest of society.
|by Anonymous||reply 43||September 9, 2022 11:17 PM|
As a recovering Mitford bathwater drinker, I'm afraid I have contempt for those who haven't yet kicked the habit.
|by Anonymous||reply 44||September 9, 2022 11:27 PM|
[quote]What a terrible way to die, but the Jews had it worse.
But Paris must have felt like an OVEN during that heat wave.
|by Anonymous||reply 45||September 10, 2022 12:57 AM|
Diana's fabled beauty doesn't come through in photos. But the ugliness of her politics is impossible to hide.
|by Anonymous||reply 46||September 10, 2022 1:07 AM|
She bears a resemblance to Belinda Carlisle.
|by Anonymous||reply 47||September 10, 2022 1:11 AM|
Her head was huge and empty.
|by Anonymous||reply 48||September 10, 2022 1:20 AM|
Their Nazis are classier than ours. Maybe Peter Theil but he's not American is he?
|by Anonymous||reply 49||September 10, 2022 1:48 AM|
Another Mitford fan here! I agree the Lovell book is the best one for any newcomers to the Mitfords to read. As I was reading through this thread I was planning on posting the old Nancy Mitford documentary that features many of the sisters, but I was happy to see someone already posted it at R40.
I’m posting a blog about the Mosleys’ house in France that others have already mentioned. It was close to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s home. Diana later wrote a biography on the Duchess. (The duchess was still living, but was ill and senile at the time.)
She was quite a good writer and some of her book reviews are comical to read— oftentimes she would have first-hand experience with whoever the book author was writing about and would just haughtily correct things the author got wrong. Her autobiography is not near as fun to read as her second memoir, Loved Ones, is. It includes just short chapters about people she knew and some of them she captures in an endearing way. The chapter about her Guinness mother-in-law is a stand out in my mind.
Catherine Guinness who is mentioned in the Warhol Diaries is one granddaughter and Daphne Guinness the fashionista is another.
|by Anonymous||reply 50||September 10, 2022 2:54 AM|
Just watched that then, R40, thanks for sharing. A very interesting portrait of the family. I thought in those interviews you could see how Nancy's eyes changed completely as soon as the name Unity was mentioned, she looked incredibly sad.
I think I can understand why some people have a romantic attraction to this type of era/class thing too. Imagine just saying, after the war: "Oh, I'll up and move to Paris" and you do, and get yourself a chic little apartment where you write novels and make enough money to buy the best in fashion - it does seem attractive, especially nowadays where buying apartments in cities would be out of the reach of all but the most successful novelists. Just a different time.
I am curious about her definition of being poor/needing money - a lot of people from that stratum of society usually just meant that they were not able to keep up with others, not that they actually had no money. But it also sounded like maybe she really didn't have anything but what she earned. I remember reading in Agatha Christie's autobiography how she and her mother were poor, but their definition of that was having to rent their house for the summer and go and live in the south of France, which again, sounds more romantic than bothersome. I wondered if it was something like that.
I was focused a lot on their eyes through this - you didn't just see the sadness in Nancy's eyes, but the excitement in Jessica's eyes when she talked about receiving letters from Nancy.
I was also very interested in Nancy's comments about before the war and how people reacted to fascism then and how many people were ok with things to a point, and the English girls studying in Germany and being very pro-Nazi and how none of them would admit it now, but it was the way things were. As humans we rewrite our history so much, especially the uncomfortable bits, and look at everything through our own lenses, and I think the uncomfortable parts of history are actually the most interesting and where the best learning for the future would come from if we would let it.
|by Anonymous||reply 51||September 10, 2022 3:02 AM|
Is that a nose job?
|by Anonymous||reply 52||September 10, 2022 3:03 AM|
Oh, I also appreciate hearing the Desert Island Discs, because I had heard OF that years ago when they were joking about her on QI. I think Ronnie Ancona said: "Now there's a woman who liked a bit of Wagner", and she was absolutely right, it was actually quite weird listening to her talking about the beauty of Hitler's eyes and minimising the number of Jewish people killed, followed by her having her favourite Wagner tunes played. Very odd. I think Stephen Fry on that episode of QI mentioned that he had interviewed her once as well and she spent a lot of time talking about how lovely Hitler was, which I'm sure must've been extremely difficult to listen to for anyone, let alone a Jewish person like Fry himself.
|by Anonymous||reply 53||September 10, 2022 3:10 AM|
She was one of the VERY earliest proponents of the European Union. So was Mosley. The motto of his party was "Europe a Nation"
She was also passionate that there ought to be a European Union, and in the 50's in Ireland she and Mosley published a magazine "The European".
|by Anonymous||reply 54||September 10, 2022 6:35 AM|
Diana was a character in the last season of Peaky Blinders; she was truly vile.
|by Anonymous||reply 55||September 10, 2022 6:40 AM|
She reminds me of Winifred Wagner, the English-born woman who married Richard Wagner's gay son Siegfried and ran the Bayreuth festival after he died. Hitler was one of her closest friends, and she also knew Unity Mitford. Winifred remained devoted to Hitler and Nazism until her death in 1980. There is an excellent documentary about her on Youtube, linked below. To their credit, and unlike most of the family, Winifred's daughter Friedeland (the Wagner equivalent of Jessica Mitford, she fled Germany before the war) and grandson Gottfried (who is still alive) publicly denounced Winifred and her fanatical legacy.
|by Anonymous||reply 56||September 10, 2022 7:28 AM|
So, she was in favor of the torture and persecution of Jews throughout the 1930s but killing them was just a bridge too far for her?
|by Anonymous||reply 57||September 10, 2022 8:07 AM|
Let’s be clear: she was a disgusting, unrepentant Fascist cunt. Her husband was the most repulsive racist, anti-semitic, hateful bully-boy. He revelled in wearing his silly little Blackshirt uniform, he was delighted to be followed by thugs, he wanted street violence and riots, and he did all he could to provoke them. The two of them belonged to a wealthy, privileged class where they could get away with practically anything until war with Nazi Germany broke out. And in the years after the war, they tried to re-start fascism in the UK. She was deeply into and utterly involved in all the filthy, hateful business her husband got up to.
She lived a cunt. She died a cunt. We should dig up her remains and piss on them.
|by Anonymous||reply 58||September 10, 2022 11:15 AM|
It was pointed out in the documentary on Nancy Mitford above that Diana was born beautiful and remained beautiful all her life. This is true in the most base sense, but her eyes are INCREDIBLY cold. There was warmth in the other sisters' eyes, but not Diana's.
|by Anonymous||reply 59||September 10, 2022 3:36 PM|
A severe wandering eye is a physical defect. People ignore this defect because of her "lineage".
|by Anonymous||reply 60||September 10, 2022 5:09 PM|
Glenn Close should play older her in a movie
|by Anonymous||reply 61||September 10, 2022 5:59 PM|
I don't think that her life after the war was very eventful, R61. She had tea with Hitler a few times in the '30s and then spent a couple of years in prison during the war and that was basically the only part of her life that was of interest. Apart from a few other famous people that she knew (which wouldn't be very interesting to depict), nothing else happened in her life after that. I believe she said as much herself, and that was why she once said, in a moment of exasperation, that she wished she'd never met Hitler.
|by Anonymous||reply 62||September 10, 2022 6:03 PM|
I love this thread. As someone mentioned, the Moselys are portrayed in Peaky Blinders. I didn’t know the wife was a Mitford sister. TY OP.
|by Anonymous||reply 63||September 10, 2022 7:33 PM|
Christopher Hitchens, friend of Jessica:
'Do you ever hear from Diana?’ I once inquired. 'We sort of bowed to each other from a great distance at dear Nancy’s funeral,’ she replied glacially, 'but apart from that it’s been absolute non-speakers ever since Munich.’
|by Anonymous||reply 64||September 10, 2022 7:52 PM|
[quote]Mosley was a horrible man
I just don't understand what she saw in him. Imagine leaving her handsome, loving husband for that nasty little man.
|by Anonymous||reply 65||September 10, 2022 10:51 PM|
She was attracted to the fascism, it had sexual allure to her, which is why so many in here are describing how vile she really was. “Who Goes Nazi?” is worth reading - she may have had beauty, money, social class, and all of it, but there was a black hole where her character should be.
|by Anonymous||reply 66||September 10, 2022 11:19 PM|
Maybe the Nazi fetish is genetic?
|by Anonymous||reply 67||September 11, 2022 12:04 AM|
If I wanted to read a book on this family, based on this thread I'm guessing most people would suggest starting with The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell? I had The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters compiled by Charlotte Mosley on my Goodreads list of books I wanted to read, but perhaps I should switch?
|by Anonymous||reply 68||September 11, 2022 12:38 AM|
A fascist, antisemitic racist, but that doesn’t stop some toxic DLers to wax poetic over her looks. SMH.
|by Anonymous||reply 69||September 11, 2022 7:29 PM|
Women love men in uniforms because the little costume denotes power.
|by Anonymous||reply 70||September 11, 2022 7:37 PM|
[quote]A fascist, antisemitic racist, but that doesn’t stop some toxic DLers to wax poetic over her looks. SMH.
Those two things aren't connected though. Recognising someone was good looking doesn't mean you agree with what they did. Sometimes it's acknowledging the horror of the juxtaposition between looks and behaviour too.
|by Anonymous||reply 71||September 11, 2022 9:11 PM|
R68 That’s what I would recommend doing. Letters Between Six Sisters is great and a lot of fun, but I think you will end up enjoying it more if you read Lovell first so you fully understand all the background when you are reading the letters. They are great companion pieces— really I would recommend reading them both with Lovell being first.
|by Anonymous||reply 72||September 11, 2022 9:47 PM|
|by Anonymous||reply 73||September 11, 2022 9:48 PM|
Churchill wasn’t a relative. Her sister Nancy actually betrayed her, telling authorities that her sister was a security risk. Nancy, I think, was one of several who ratted.
|by Anonymous||reply 74||September 16, 2022 4:28 AM|
^ Churchill's wife was their father's first cousin (and, according to rumour, was actually their father's half-sister).
|by Anonymous||reply 75||September 16, 2022 8:00 AM|
She was evidence that there is no justice or karma in the world. She was beautiful, elegant, aristocratic, intelligent, rich and cultured. She lived a contented, full life until 92. She never repented her vile politics and in her above interview about Hitler, she is clever enough to articulate it into something less awful- it gives you pause for a couple of seconds until you realize that is, of course, shit.
Nancy is much admired but she was rather a bitch. It was only after she died that Diana discovered she wrote a letter asking her to be kept in jail as she was a dangerous woman. All true, of course, but considering they remained friends (unlike Jessica) it was rather treacherous .
|by Anonymous||reply 76||September 17, 2022 2:41 PM|
She said she loved the works of Proust and Wagner.
|by Anonymous||reply 77||January 22, 2023 5:13 PM|
She loved her King James Bible. Calling it the "authorized version"
|by Anonymous||reply 78||January 22, 2023 5:38 PM|
Goddamn, she really was a complete twat:
[quote] Well, now, Hitler's adjutants were sort of ..."
[quote] "Gnarled old men, they really were. They were very, very sweet but I'm afraid not the least bit good-looking. That just is the answer really, these were the people Hitler loved being with."
very, very sweet.
|by Anonymous||reply 79||January 22, 2023 5:41 PM|
She deserved to die in a terrible heat stroke while suffering from a stroke. God got her back
|by Anonymous||reply 80||January 22, 2023 6:19 PM|
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