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Wounding Nonsenses

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1997

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 531 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 340 63804 4
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... Waugh met in the flesh they were apt to quarrel, thanks to her sharp tongue and his bad temper. Charlotte Mosley, who married Mitford’s nephew, is a sharp-eyed editor who knows a thing or two (as, for instance, that une tante intégrale is a raging queen). She has already edited a volume of Nancy Mitford’s letters, Love from Nancy. Others who have ...

Poor Hitler

Andrew O’Hagan: Toff Humour, 15 November 2007

The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Fourth Estate, 834 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 84115 790 0
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... but it’s true of the letters too, which now appear in The Mitfords, a collection edited by Charlotte Mosley. The man in the street was never Nancy Mitford’s sort of thing. In fact, she found the very notion of the public quite ludicrous. (How she would struggle today!) Her idea of perfect bliss, she once said, was lots of peasants happy in their ...


A.N. Wilson, 21 October 1993

Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 538 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 340 53784 1
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... to England, ‘of course I screamed with laughter.’ When a Spaniard suggests to her sister Lady Mosley mat Evelyn Waugh was only a Roman Catholic ‘for a joke’, ‘we screamed with laughter.’ And so on and so on. I am not being so puritanical as to deny that – at the time – all this must have been screamingly funny. On the printed page, I fear, it ...

Nit, Sick and Bore

India Knight: The Mitfords, 3 January 2002

The Mitford Girls: The Biography of an Extraordinary Family 
by Mary Lovell.
Little, Brown, 611 pp., £20, September 2001, 0 316 85868 4
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Nancy Mitford: A Memoir 
by Harold Acton.
Gibson Square, 256 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 1 903933 01 3
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... enormous, enormously funny correspondence, or by Jan Dalley’s recent biography of Diana Mosley. You rather imagine her, nose pressed up against the glass, longing to roar along with the Duchess of Devonshire (whom, she informs us, she once met at dinner), but not quite knowing how. Of course, some people miss the joke altogether – posh girls ...

Molly’s Methuselah

Frank Kermode, 26 September 1991

Bernard Shaw. Vol. III: 1918-1950, The Lure of Fantasy 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 544 pp., £21, September 1991, 0 7011 3351 1
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... prodigally than before. He stayed friends with the Webbs and Wells, adored T.E. Lawrence (so did Charlotte) and was close to Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who happened to be a neighbour at Ayot (Shaw had an editorial hand in The Worst Journey in the World). And – a real proof of vigour – he made new friendships of remoter provenance: for example, with Gene ...

My Castaway This Week

Miranda Carter: Desert Island Dreams, 9 June 2022

... the just pre-Pennies from Heaven Dennis Potter remembering his Forest of Dean childhood; and Charlotte Rampling, very solemn, on the death of her sister and making The Night Porter – Plomley managing to avoid any mention of what it was actually about. (In case you’ve forgotten, the S&M relationship between a concentration camp survivor and her ex-SS ...


Frank Kermode: James Lees-Milne, 30 November 2000

Deep Romantic Chasm: Diaries 1979-81 
by James Lees-Milne, edited by Michael Bloch.
Murray, 276 pp., £22.50, October 2000, 0 7195 5608 2
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A Mingled Measure: Diaries 1953-72 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 325 pp., £12.99, October 2000, 0 7195 5609 0
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Ancient as the Hills: Diaries 1973-74 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 228 pp., £12.99, October 2000, 0 7195 6200 7
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... several times in these diaries. There are other ways of qualifying; on the authority of Sir Oswald Mosley Hitler is declared to be ‘gentle and gentlemanly. He slipped shyly into a room.’ Still uncertain about rank, one may be helped a little by taking bearings on those who are not gentlemen because far above or far below that station. Living in a house on ...

Hopping in His Matchbox

Neal Ascherson: Hitler as a Human, 2 June 2016

Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 
by Volker Ullrich, translated by Jefferson Chase.
Bodley Head, 758 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 1 84792 285 4
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... later, he was dutiful rather than valiant and he didn’t father a baby on a French girl called Charlotte. True, however, by the accounts of all historians is the shattering blow to his self-esteem delivered when the Vienna Academy turned down his application to study art. ‘Too few heads. Sample drawing unsatisfactory.’ He had been fanatically certain ...

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