Nancy Freeman-Mitford, known as Nancy Mitford, was an English novelist and journalist. One of the Mitford sisters, she was regarded as one of the "Bright Young People" on the London social scene in the inter-war years, she wrote several novels about upper-class life in England and France and was considered a sharp and provocative wit. She established a reputation for herself as a writer of popular historical biographies. Mitford enjoyed a privileged childhood as the eldest daughter of the Hon. David Freeman-Mitford 2nd Baron Redesdale. Educated she had no training as a writer before publishing her first novel in 1931; this early effort and the three that followed it created little stir. Mitford's marriage to Peter Rodd in 1933 proved unsatisfactory to both, during the Second World War she formed a liaison with a Free French officer, Gaston Palewski, he became the love of her life. After the war Mitford settled in France and lived there until her death, maintaining social contact with her many English friends through letters and regular visits.
During the 1950s Mitford was identified with the concept of "U" and "non-U" language, whereby social origins and standing were identified by words used in everyday speech. She had intended this as a joke, but many took it and Mitford was considered an authority on manners and breeding—possibly her most recognised legacy, her years were bitter-sweet, the success of her biographical studies of Madame de Pompadour and King Louis XIV contrasting with the ultimate failure of her relationship with Palewski. From the late 1960s her health deteriorated, she endured several years of painful illness before her death in 1973; the Mitford family dates from the Norman era, when Sir John de Mitford held the Castle of Mitford in Northumberland. A Sir John held several important public offices during the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the family maintained a tradition of public service for many generations. In the 18th century William Mitford was a leading classical historian, responsible for the definitive history of ancient Greece.
His great-grandson Algernon Bertram Mitford, born in 1837 and known as "Bertie", was a diplomat and traveller who held minor office in Disraeli's second ministry, from 1874 to 1880. In 1874 he married Clementina, the second daughter of David Ogilvy, 10th Earl of Airlie, a union that linked the Mitfords to some of Britain's most prominent aristocratic families. Blanche Ogilvy, Clementina's elder sister, became the wife of Sir Henry Montague Hozier, a soldier turned businessman, their four children included daughters Clementine, who in 1908 married the future British prime minister Winston Churchill, Nellie who married Bertram Romilly. Both Hozier and Blanche were promiscuous, it is accepted by historians and family members that Hozier was not Clemmie's father, although he was registered as such. Blanche told her friend Lady Londonderry, shortly before Clemmie's birth, that the father of the expected child was her own brother-in-law, Bertie Mitford. Bertie Mitford's marriage produced four daughters.
His career in government service ended in 1886, when after the death of a cousin he inherited a considerable fortune. A condition of the inheritance was that he adopt the surname "Freeman-Mitford", he rebuilt Batsford House, the family's country seat, served as a Unionist MP in the 1890s, otherwise devoted himself to books and travel. In 1902 he was raised to the peerage as 1st Baron Redesdale, a re-creation of a title, held in the family but had lapsed in 1886. Nancy Mitford's father, David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford, was Bertie Mitford's second son, born on 13 March 1878. After several years as a tea planter in Ceylon he fought in the Boer War of 1899–1902 and was wounded. In 1903 he became engaged to Sydney Bowles, the elder daughter of Thomas Gibson Bowles, known as "Tap", a journalist and magazine proprietor whose publications included Vanity Fair and The Lady; the couple were married on 16 February 1904, after which they rented a house in Graham Street in West London. Bowles provided his son-in-law as business manager of The Lady magazine.
David knew nothing of business. He remained in this position for ten years; the couple's first child, a daughter, was born on 28 November 1904. Responsibility for Nancy's day-to-day upbringing was delegated to her nanny and nursemaid, within the framework of Sydney's short-lived belief that children should never be corrected or be spoken to in anger. Before this experiment was discontinued, Nancy had become uncontrollable. Just before her third birthday, a sister, was born. In January 1909 a brother, Tom was born, in June 1910 another sister, followed; that summer, to relieve the pressure on what was becoming an overcrowded nursery, Nan
The Pursuit of Love
The Pursuit of Love is a novel by Nancy Mitford, first published in 1945. It is the first in a trilogy about an upper-class English family in the interwar period. Although a comedy, the story has tragic overtones; the narrator is Fanny, whose mother and father have left her to be brought up by her Aunt Emily and the valetudinarian Davey, whom Emily marries early in the novel. Fanny spends holidays with her Uncle Matthew Radlett, Aunt Sadie, numerous cousins at Alconleigh. Linda, the second Radlett daughter, is the main character of the novel; the early chapters recount the Radlett children's bizarre upbringing, including their contrasting obsessions with hunting and preventing cruelty to animals, the activities of their secret society, "the Hons." The Radlett daughters receive little in the way of formal education, as Linda grows older she is consumed by a desire for romantic love and marriage. Louisa, the eldest Radlett child, makes her début and becomes engaged to John Fort William, a Scottish peer more than twenty years her senior.
Linda finds Lord Fort William an unromantic choice of husband, but is jealous that Louisa is getting married. Linda becomes depressed, awaiting her own coming-out party. During this time she makes friends with Lord Merlin, a neighbouring landlord, a wealthy, charming aesthete with many fashionable friends. Merlin brings Tony Kroesig, heir to a wealthy banking family, as a last-minute guest to Linda's coming-out ball. Linda falls in love with Tony. Uncle Matthew disapproves of Tony's German ancestry, is furious when Linda and Fanny sneak away to Oxford to have luncheon with Tony. Linda and Tony marry despite the strong disapproval of their families. Linda quickly realises that she has made a serious mistake, but she keeps up a pretence of having a happy marriage. Linda and Tony have Moira, to whom Linda takes an instant dislike. Linda dies during Moira's birth, her doctors advise her to have no more children. Moira is soon abandoned to the care of her paternal grandparents. During this time, Fanny marries a young man begins a family of her own.
After nine years of marriage, Linda leaves Tony for an ardent Communist. Christian is kind but vague, uninterested in individuals, preferring to focus on the plight of the working class. Linda's divorce and remarriage cause a rift between her and her parents, but after some months they reconcile. Linda and Christian go to France to work with Spanish refugees in Perpignan during the Spanish Civil War, where they meet Linda's old friend Lavender Davis, an efficient young woman volunteering to help the refugees. Linda realises that Christian and Lavender are falling in love with one another and that they would be a better pairing. Linda decides to leave France. On the way back to England, Linda runs out of money in Paris and meets Fabrice de Sauveterre, a wealthy French duke. Linda lives with him in Paris for eleven months. During this time she cultivates a great interest in clothes, which Fabrice encourages and finances, but most of her happiness is the result of the fact that she has found the love of her life.
When World War II breaks out, Fabrice persuades Linda to return to England alone, for he has work to do in the French Resistance. During the war, he is able to visit Linda in England once, she becomes pregnant. Meanwhile, for safety during the London Blitz, Fanny and their children are living at Alconleigh, along with Matthew, Emily, Davey, "the Bolter," and her new lover Juan; when Linda's house is bombed, she goes to stay at Alconleigh. The Bolter sees Linda as a younger version of herself, which Linda resents, because she is certain that she has found the love of her life in Fabrice and will not run off from any more husbands. Fanny is expecting a baby, she and Linda give birth to their sons on the same day. Linda dies in childbirth. Fanny and her husband name him Fabrice. Mitford Don't Tell Alfred, her penultimate novel, The Blessing references The Pursuit of Love and characters from The Blessing appear in Don't Tell Alfred. Uncle Matthew, "Lord Alconleigh". Bob, the eldest son, one of the few well-behaved Radlett children Jassy, Matt's inseparable friend, perpetually saving up to run away from home Matt, Jassy's inseparable friend runs away from Eton to fight in the Spanish Civil War Robin, the youngest son Victoria, the baby of the family, born when the older children are entering their teens.
An irrepressible child, Love in a Cold Climate. Fanny Logan, the narrator, a cousin of the Radletts and Linda's best friend Fabrice de Sauveterre, a wealthy French duke, Linda's final lover and the great love of her life Emily Warbeck, Sadie Alconleigh's sister and Fanny's aunt Davey Warbeck, Emily's husband, a distinguished writer and critic, a hypochondriac who undergoes unusual remedies for the sake of his health The Bolter, for whom no other name is
The Blessing (novel)
The Blessing is a comic satirical novel by Nancy Mitford, first published in 1951. It is set in the post-World War II period and concerns Grace, an English country girl who moves to France after falling for a dashing aristocratic Frenchman named Charles-Edouard who lusts after other women, their son Sigi aims to keep his parents apart by engineering misunderstandings. A 1959 film called, it starred Maurice Chevalier. The Official Nancy Mitford Website
Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton CBE was an English fashion and war photographer, painter, interior designer and an Oscar–winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre. Beaton was born on 14 January 1904 in Hampstead, the son of Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton, a prosperous timber merchant, his wife, Esther "Etty" Sisson, his grandfather, Walter Hardy Beaton, had founded the family business of "Beaton Brothers Timber Merchants and Agents", his father followed into the business. Ernest Beaton was an amateur actor and met his wife, Cecil's mother Esther, when playing the lead in a play, she was the daughter of a Cumbrian blacksmith named Joseph Sisson and had come to London to visit her married sister. Ernest and Etty Beaton had four children – Cecil. Cecil Beaton was educated at Heath Mount School and St Cyprian's School, where his artistic talent was recognised. Both Cyril Connolly and Henry Longhurst report in their autobiographies being overwhelmed by the beauty of Beaton's singing at the St Cyprian's school concerts.
When Beaton was growing up his nanny had a Kodak 3A Camera, a popular model, renowned for being an ideal piece of equipment to learn on. Beaton's nanny began developing film, he would get his sisters and mother to sit for him. When he was sufficiently proficient, he would send the photos off to London society magazines writing under a pen name and ‘recommending’ the work of Beaton. Beaton attended Harrow School, despite having little or no interest in academia, moved on to St John's College and studied history and architecture. Beaton continued his photography, through his university contacts managed to get a portrait depicting the Duchess of Malfi published in Vogue, it was George "Dadie" Rylands – "a out-of-focus snapshot of him as Webster's Duchess of Malfi standing in the sub-aqueous light outside the men's lavatory of the ADC Theatre at Cambridge." Beaton left Cambridge without a degree in 1925. After a short time in the family timber business, he worked with a cement merchant in Holborn.
This resulted in ` an orgy of photography at weekends'. Under the patronage of Osbert Sitwell he put on his first exhibition in the Cooling London, it caused. Believing that he would meet with greater success on the other side of the Atlantic, he left for New York and built up a reputation there. By the time he left, he had "a contract with Condé Nast Publications to take photographs for them for several thousand pounds a year for several years to come."From 1930 to 1945, Beaton leased Ashcombe House in Wiltshire, where he entertained many notable figures. In 1947, he bought Reddish House, set in 2.5 acres of gardens 5 miles to the east in Broad Chalke. Here he transformed the interior, adding rooms on the eastern side, extending the parlour southwards, introducing many new fittings. Greta Garbo was a visitor, he is buried in the churchyard. Beaton designed book jackets, costumes for charity matinees, learning the craft of photography at the studio of Paul Tanqueray, until Vogue took him on in 1927.
He set up his own studio, one of his earliest clients and best friends was Stephen Tennant. Beaton's photographs of Tennant and his circle are considered some of the best representations of the Bright Young People of the twenties and thirties. Beaton's first camera was a Kodak 3A folding camera. Over the course of his career, he employed both large format cameras, smaller Rolleiflex cameras. Beaton was never known as a skilled technical photographer, instead focused on staging a compelling model or scene and looking for the perfect shutter-release moment, he was a photographer for the British edition of Vogue in 1931 when George Hoyningen-Huene, photographer for the French Vogue travelled to England with his new friend Horst. Horst himself would begin to work for French Vogue in November of that year; the exchange and cross pollination of ideas between this collegial circle of artists across the Channel and the Atlantic gave rise to the look of style and sophistication for which the 1930s are known.
Beaton is known for his fashion photographs and society portraits. He worked as a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue in addition to photographing celebrities in Hollywood. In 1938, he inserted some tiny-but-still-legible anti-Semitic phrases into American Vogue at the side of an illustration about New York society; the issue was recalled and reprinted, Beaton was fired. Beaton returned to England, he became a leading war photographer, best known for his images of the damage done by the German Blitz. His style sharpened and his range broadened, Beaton's career was restored by the war. Beaton photographed the Royal Family for official publication. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was his favourite royal sitter, he once pocketed her scented hankie as a keepsake from a successful shoot. Beaton took the famous wedding pictures of the Duchess of Windsor. During the Second World War, Beaton was first posted to the Ministry of Information and given the task of rec