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What a Lot of Parties

Christopher Hitchens: Diana Mosley

30 September 1999
Diana MosleyA Biography 
by Jan Dalley.
Faber, 297 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 571 14448 9
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... In the autumn of 1980 I was leafing through the latest number of Books and Bookmen and came across a notice of Hans-Otto Meissner’s biography of Magda Goebbels. The reviewer was DianaMosley. Fair enough, I thought, she had at least known the woman. Indeed, as she put it herself: ‘I knew Magda and Dr Goebbels quite well. She was charming and beautiful, he was clever and witty ...

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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... you’re left with girls in pearls living borderline tragic lives, or with the po-faced, lumpen Unity Mitford – galumph, galumph – who, unlike her five sisters (in descending order: Nancy, Pam, Diana, Unity, Decca, Debo; there was also a brother, Tom), had little talent for levity. So the jokes are crucial. One occasionally gets the impression, from Mary Lovell’s compelling, fluent and ...
16 October 1980
The Duchess of Windsor 
by Diana Mosley.
Sidgwick, 219 pp., £8.95, June 1980, 9780283986284
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... loaded: Stanley Baldwin said of Edward VIII, ‘He has the secret of youth in the prime of age,’ whereas Ernest Simpson just called him Peter Pan.) In contributing The Duchess of Windsor, DianaMosley has set herself a harder task than most. Her aims are good or at least interesting; their realisation was impossible. There is bound to be an element of moral judgment in any account of the Windsors ...


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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... and sometimes, almost in the manner of a nervous stand-up comedienne, interrupts her letters to make sure that the audience is suitably convulsed. ‘Are you shrieking?’ she implores her sister Diana, in the middle of relaying some mildly amusing malice about a friend. To her lover Gaston Palewski (‘Colonel’), she reports that Odette Massigli is having an affair with John Lehmann, who had ...


A.J.P. Taylor: The Mosleys and Other Affairs

17 November 1983
... the neighbourhood for thirty years, you must have seen many things that you ought not to have seen.’ Mention of Gerald recalls to my mind that he regularly visited Brixton Prison when Sir Oswald Mosley was interned there as a dangerous Fascist and pro-Hitlerite. When an officious friend warned Gerald that visiting Brixton would bring him, too, under suspicion, Gerald replied, ‘It is when a friend ...

‘Derek, please, not so fast’

Ferdinand Mount: Derek Jackson

7 February 2008
As I Was Going to St Ives: A Life of Derek Jackson 
by Simon Courtauld.
Michael Russell, 192 pp., £17.50, October 2007, 978 0 85955 311 7
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... any inclination to Fascism in him. In As I Was Going to St Ives, his deliciously slim life of Jackson, Simon Courtauld tells the story of a remarkable human being – well, remarkable being. Even DianaMosley, Jackson’s best friend, had to concede that he wasn’t quite human, and it takes one to know one. Courtauld provides as lucid an account of his work as the layman could hope for, and it ...
20 July 1995
The Last of the Duchess 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £16.99, April 1995, 0 333 63062 9
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... say, these strike me as a puzzling couple of sentences. Blackwood makes explicit reference to Maître Blum’s Jewishness on only one other occasion, when she mentions how ‘ironic’ it is that DianaMosley, who ‘bravely’ endured war-time imprisonment for her Nazi sympathies, should, in old age, be so intimidated by an old Jewish lawyer. Blum’s Jewishness clearly has a significance for ...

At Sotheby’s

Rosemary Hill: Debo’s Bibelots

17 March 2016
... them they spanned the entire range of upper-class extremism, from Decca the ‘ballroom communist’ to Unity, remembered tersely in the Dictionary of National Biography as ‘Nazi sympathiser’. Diana married Oswald Mosley and spent the Second World War in Holloway, Nancy was the novelist and Pamela the one everybody forgets about. Debo was known to her older sisters as ‘Nine’ because they ...

Hons and Wets

D.A.N. Jones

6 December 1984
The House of Mitford 
by Jonathan Guinness and Catherine Guinness.
Hutchinson, 604 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 09 155560 4
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... them. The brightest, Nancy and Jessica, put the Redesdales into their books, as lovable comics (like the country-house retainers the Redesdales ought to have been). The silliest daughters, Unity and Diana, did worse: they persuaded their parents to become Nazi supporters in real, horrible life. Jonathan Guinness is in a difficulty when writing about his mother and his aunts. He is the son of Diana ...

Attila the Hus

Mary-Kay Wilmers

4 November 1982
Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley​ 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 28849 4
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... Nicholas Mosley’s parents, Cynthia Curzon and Oswald Mosley, were married in the Chapel Royal, St James’s on 11 May 1920: ‘Cimmie’s wedding dress had a design of green leaves in it, in defiance of a superstition that green at a wedding was unlucky ...
15 September 1988
Wallis: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor 
by Charles Higham.
Sidgwick, 419 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 283 99627 7
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The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor 
by Michael Bloch.
Bantam, 326 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 9780593016671
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... chose the Parisian Nazi Armand Grégoire. Even when the war was on, she fraternised with the pro-Nazi French businessman, Charles Bedaux. Perhaps her most consistent British confidante and friend was DianaMosley, Sir Oswald’s wife. As the Windsors and the Mosleys grew old in exile, they took regular solace together, meeting and dining twice a week and musing about the great times they could have had ...

Darling, are you mad?

Jenny Diski: Ghost-writing for Naim Attallah

4 November 2004
by Jennie Erdal.
Canongate, 270 pp., £14.99, November 2004, 1 84195 562 0
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... either devilishly cunning or simperingly sycophantic) produced a few interviews, published in 1992 as Of a Certain Age, where the subjects talked themselves into a corner not far from the truth. DianaMosley felt cosseted enough by Attallah to explain about the Jews that ‘collectively, so to speak, they may be deprecated by certain people but individually they’re considered brilliant, charming ...

Double-Barrelled Dolts

Ferdinand Mount: Mosley’s Lost Deposit

6 July 2006
Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley​ and British Fascism 
by Stephen Dorril.
Viking, 717 pp., £30, April 2006, 0 670 86999 6
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Hurrah for the Blackshirts! Fascists and Fascism between the Wars 
by Martin Pugh.
Pimlico, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2006, 1 84413 087 8
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... It is 26 years since Oswald Mosley breathed his last at the Temple de la Gloire, the athletic frame which he had once so proudly flexed now sadly bloated, his piercing eyes shrunk to peepholes, the sinister moustache long shaven. It ...

Dark Tom

Christopher Ricks

1 December 1983
Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley​ 1933-1980 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 323 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 436 28852 4
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Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley​ 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Fontana, 274 pp., £2.50, October 1983, 0 00 636644 9
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... The human craving to believe in something is pathetic, when not tragic; and always, at the same time, comic.’ The life of Sir Oswald Mosley was pathetic, tragic and comic, and his son’s humane deliberated biography is itself a notable contribution to ‘The Literature of Fascism’ which T.S. Eliot was judging with that sentence in ...

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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... a tin cup. This is most true of Nancy’s novels and Hons and Rebels, Jessica’s famous memoir, 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 ...

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