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The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  2,483 Ratings  ·  192 Reviews
Spanning the twentieth century, these magically vivid letters between the legendary Mitford sisters constitute not just a superb social and historical chronicle (what other family counted among its friends Hitler and the Queen, Cecil Beaton and President Kennedy, Evelyn Waugh and Givenchy?); they also give an intimate portrait of the stormy but enduring relationship betwee ...more
Hardcover, 842 pages
Published September 3rd 2007 by HarperCollins
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Jan 10, 2008 Nette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm obsessed by the Mitfords, so I devoured this. How can you not be fascinated by a family where the six sisters were a Communist, a Fascist, a Nazi, a duchess, a novelist, and a farmer? All of them were hilariously funny -- OK, not so much Unity, the Nazi -- and brilliant. The only problem is that for a while after readomg ot. you'll find yourself talking like an upper crust 1920s eccentric. Oh darling, DO admit.
May 21, 2010 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
really don't know where to begin in reviewing this stupendous work. I am fascinated by the Mitfords - and I have read several books about them or by them. These wonderful letters between the six sisters are a chronicle of a century - Nancy born 1904 and Diana died 2003. The letters chart the changing relationships between the sisters. The vast differences between them, and the things which united them. It is through their eyes and in their own peculiar Mitfordian language that we expierence: Di ...more
I got this book because it sounded interesting. Not interesting like, "I want to read that," but interesting like "I should read that." When I got it, I groaned. It was huge, 834 pages, and I figured I would start it and wander off about a quarter of the way through.

Boy howdy was I wrong. It was an incredibly engrossing book and I loved every minute of it. The six Mitford sisters, born between 1904 and 1920 started writing to each other in their 20's and continued throughout their lives. Four of
Cured of any budding fascination I might have had for the Mitfords. Feeling exhausted and longing for my sane, sensible sister who has never uttered words like "Oh isn't the Fuhrer just the kindest man ever!" Also, she has never tried to have me imprisoned. All good things. Must get her something nice for Christmas.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
If you want to appreciate this collection from cover to cover, you have to know a lot more about the Mitford girls than I would ever care to know. I shall be plucking juicy tidbits until I've had my fill.

(I'm still reading this, but moving it to my "finish someday" shelf. I own it, so it's going to take me months and months to get through it.)
I've read nearly all of the extant biographies and autobiographies of the six Mitford sisters, all of their fiction and nonfiction, and countless articles by and about them. I've been fascinated by their dazzling, batty world for several decades, ever since a college English professor had us read Jessica Mitford's "Way of Death," followed by Nancy's "U and Non-U" essay. That got me far enough down the delightful rabbit hole that is their writing and their lives, and I've not been back since.

Nov 19, 2012 Caroline marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I love the novels of Nancy Mitford, so when someone recommended this book to me I immediately got it from Amazon. It arrived a few days ago. Sadly it is going to leave my house practically unread. I found that the rabid adoration of Hilter and Nazism of some of the Mitford sisters really stuck in my gullet, rendering the book hugely distasteful. Up until now it had just been an issue in the background, dampened by the glory of Nancy's wonderful novels. But these letters show with undoubted clari ...more
Jan 15, 2012 Leah rated it it was amazing

I loved this book.

I know I have previously been guilty of romanticising the Mitford sisters (like an interviewer says to Diana, "It must have been really something when you were all together..."). In my mind they exist mainly in the 1930s, becoming beautiful young debutantes and making friends with the interesting and important people of the era. This is ridiculous, of course.

There is no better way to be cured of Midnight-in-Paris syndrome than by reading these fantastic letters. Learning the s
Sep 25, 2014 Bonnie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
Sorry but this just wasn't what I was expecting. I think I need a lot more background on this family to enjoy it. By page 67 I decided I wasn't interested in a family where at least one sister is a devotee of hitler and comments, poor Fuhrer this and poor Fuhrer that.
This is a 77-year correspondence, which naturally becomes both a portrait of the personalities of and relationships between the six Mitford sisters, and a fascinating view on the times they lived through, and threw themselves into. It's huge, and thought-provoking, and delightful, and sometimes greyly disheartening and sometimes desperately sad and sometimes just so charming you could live in it.

The key points of the Mitford story are that they were peers' daughters who came of age in the twenti
The Library Lady
Reading these letters has really underlined to me how crucial Fanny Logan Wyncham, narrator of The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate is to those books--she is the most human character and contrasts vividly to the Radlett family, who were based on the Mitfords.

Charlotte Mosley has apparently done quite well making a living off the papers of her Mitford in-laws, but she hasn't helped their public images the way Nancy Mitford did with the novels. Perhaps if she had put explanatory paragr
Mar 07, 2011 Eileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britlit, history
This one took awhile not really because of length but because it was too big to really carry around. Now I am finished! HUZZAH etc.

Primary sources are generally very interesting as long as you are interested in the subject matter and time period. I was interested in both, and so liked it very much.

When I started reading, the balance of the book seemed odd and off-kilter. Much of the Mitfords' fame/notoriety came right around the WWII era, so why was there such a large proportion of letters left
Jun 08, 2008 PastAllReason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2008, biography
Fascinating collection of letters exchanged between the six Mitford sisters over the course of their lives. The correspondence spans decades for sisters who led quite extraordinary lives.

The correspondence includes exchanges from Nancy Mitford, the eldest, who became a best-selling author, from Unity who became a Nazi who met Hitler several times in the 1930s and plainly hero-worshipped him in her correspondence, from Diana who first married the heir to the Guinness fortune and divorced him to
Feb 15, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading their letters. They all have such strong voices and they all really made me laugh. The tragic parts are even more tragic with the resilience the women had. I loved all of their commentaries on getting old. Rather profound but equally amusing, as with every other topic. The notes added by the author are very helpful considering they're all using their own Mitford language! The nicknames and so on.

The only thing I didn't like was the fact that it was so long, but I don't
Jul 24, 2011 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolute blissikins, do admit
Sarah Beth
Apr 04, 2017 Sarah Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Wouldn't it be dread if one had a) no sisters b) sisters who didn't write." Deborah to Diana, 1965.

Spanning the years between 1925 and 2002, this volume includes selected letters between the six celebrated Mitford sisters - Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah. Few families have been the object of such fascination and writings, both during and after their lifetime and little wonder - the six sisters included a novelist, a country farmer, a Fascist, a Nazi, a Communist, and a Duche
Karen Powell
Jan 04, 2010 Karen Powell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must for anyone fascinated with the Mitfords, or with 20th century history. The letters between Nancy, Pam, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah span thoughout their lifetimes, their connections to history's elite providing an inner look to newsmakers of the past, like WInston Churchill and JFK.[return][return]The sisters have a unique sense of humor due to their unconventional upbringing as struggling aristocrats. Their letters are peppered liberally with nicknames, inside jokes, and jibes at t ...more
Roman Clodia
I'm really surprised that most of the reviews have ignored the politics of the Mitford sisters which permeate this book. The editor, herself a Mosley, has put little symbols alongside each letter to identify the writer: a moon for Diana, a plume for Nancy the writer, a coronet for Deborah, the current Duchess of Devonshire, the hammer and sickle for Jessica - and a swastika for Unity who made Hitler her idol.

The letters from the 1930s are filled with visits to Germany, having tea with Hitler (wh
A fascinating look at the 20th century through the eyes of a single family in their personal correspondence. These woman were at the heart of a wide spectrum of political and social life in Europe. They weaved their way through the century, creating a link between Hitler, the British monarchy and Stalin.

It is also a fascinating look at the dynamics of sisters. Having a sister of my own, I recognise the rivalry, jealousy, the fight to be the one approved of and beloved of your parents, and the b
This was a fascinating book due to 1)the people the Mitfords knew: Queen Elizabeth, Hitler, Kennedys, Maya Angelou, Churchill, etc 2)the sheer length and volume of correspondence--thousands of letters spanning 60+ years (between four published authors!) and 3)seeing women and their complex relationships grow and change over a lifetime. Having said that, the Mitfords themselves I don't care for much, with the exception of kind Deborah, Lady of Devonshire. Nancy is while smart and funny--sad, bitt ...more
Sep 24, 2014 Kathie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Mitford sisters, who provoked, outraged, and at the very least made for interesting press over many decades of the twentieth century. Two sisters became Nazi sympathizers and actually knew Hitler ("Adolph was so sweet at lunch today..."). One eloped with a Churchill cousin and became a Communist and later a muckraking author. One became a successful novelist, one devoted her life to livestock and her farm. The youngest married into British aristocracy, b ...more
Letters between six sisters, spanning over 70 years, would be interesting enough.... but the fact these are the Mitford girls make them even more so. Charlotte Mosley's "The Mitfords: Letters between six sisters" is just plain fascinating.

I read Nancy Mitford's "Love in a Cold Climate" & "The Pursuit of Happiness" a couple of years ago and somewhere along the way learned that the characters were based on her aristocratic family. And what a family it was, producing such a myriad of characters
I'd been waiting for this for what seems like forever and then had to keep myself from devouring it once I got it. It's a fat hardback and generally blissful, and fascinating to see how each sister interacted with each other sister, the various closenesses and rivalries and alliances and infighting.

Of course I've read many of Nancy's and Decca's letters, but I really loved reading Deborah's (the youngest sister and eventual keeper of the family archives). I find I still do not get on with Diana,
Jan 14, 2016 Sian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great 'dip in and out of' book that lived on my bedside table for months while I read a few letters most nights. Not only are the Mitford sisters witty and wonderful to read about, it's also fascinating to read correspondence that spanned the best part of a century. It was particularly interesting, given the current political climate, to read about the foundation of the EU and the desire to prevent a European war happening again.

Also I totally <3 Decca and wish the others weren't s
Debbie J
Jan 07, 2016 Debbie J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I confess to loving books written using letters of the people involved. I picked this book up because I knew nothing about the Mitfords. I was surprised to discover how popular these sisters were in their time. Interesting seeing people like Hitler, English Royalty and so on through the eyes of people who actually knew them.
Sep 02, 2011 Kasadarko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my favourite part was how they wrote. they way they strung sentences together, we just don't see that anymore. cute that the last few letters were sent by fax. each one of them lead extraordinary lives. a book worth reading during the summer months or in the dead of winter. trust me you'll start writing letters after you finish this glorious book.
Oct 05, 2014 Eilidhbelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this so much, I wish I could erase it from my mind and read it all over again. They knew EVERYONE and they wrote so brilliantly to each other - an honest gem of a book, really can't fault it at all.
Dec 08, 2015 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This book took me a long time to read and yet I really did enjoy it. Not being from the UK, I really had not heard of the Mitford sisters, but what a family. I think that letters capture little observations and snippets that novels and biographies do not.
Jan 30, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the spirit of complete disclosure, I will admit that I didn't read every single page and every single letter. But I think I read enough that it counts as "reading the book". So I'm counting it. Don't judge me.
Kim Allen
Sep 05, 2011 Kim Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whew! It hasn't taken me so long to read a book in a long time. I did love it however. We will never see an ongoing correspondence like this again.
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Letters and Diaries: The Mitford Letters 1 3 Feb 18, 2013 06:54AM  
  • Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford
  • Love from Nancy
  • Diana Mosley: Mitford Beauty, British Fascist, Hitler's Angel
  • Nancy Mitford
  • Wait for Me!
  • Nancy Mitford: A Biography
  • The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family
  • A Life of Contrasts: An Autobiography
  • Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
  • Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918-1940
  • The House of Mitford
  • The Brontës: A Life in Letters
  • The Bolter: Edwardian Heartbreak and High Society Scandal in Kenya
  • Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford
Charlotte Mosley, Diana Mitford's daughter-in-law, has worked as a publisher and journalist. She has published A Talent to Annoy: Essays, Articles, and Reviews by Nancy Mitford; Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford; and The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh. She lives in Paris.
More about Charlotte Mosley...

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“(from Diana to Deborah, 8 May 1998)
Talking of language difficulty Tony Lambton says Selwyn Lloyd introduced him to Khrushchev saying 'He's the best shot in England,' and the translator said 'Lord Lambton is to be shot tomorrow.' Khrushchev thought it quite normal but patted him on the shoulder kindly.”
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