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The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  348 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, two of the twentieth century's most amusing and gifted writers, matched wits and exchanged insults in more than five hundred letters, a continuous irreverent dialogue that stretched for twenty-two years. Their delicious correspondence, much of it never published before (for fear of speaking ill of the living), provides colorful glimpses of b ...more
Hardcover, 527 pages
Published March 26th 1997 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1996)
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May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is battle of the bitches. Evelyn wins. Always.

It contains all the ingredients that I don't like, snobbery of the upper classes with the inherent racist and sexist attitudes of the day. Whatever. They were a product of their time and I adored reading their letters, or should I say, I simply longed for them.

If you're new to letter collections and enjoy reading early 20th century English works, then anything by the Mitfords or Evelyn Waugh would be a great place to start. This particular boo
Liina Bachmann
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Oh my god I can't believe that I have finally finished this book. I don't think I have ever read anything so slowly. Which doesn't mean that it was bad. But I am too exhausted too voice an opinion on it. Perhaps will edit the "review" in the near future when I have discussed the book with my brilliant reading buddies whom I read it together with.
Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
For years, after her move to France, Nancy Mitford would write Evelyn Waugh an early January letter lamenting the passing of the past year--in her memory it was the best year ever. Waugh was always sour, indignant and condescending in reply. After the first year she was definitely at least partly teasing him--it was one of her favorite things to do. But what I like about Nancy Mitford as shown through these letters was her absolute determination to have fun, be happy and surround herself with as ...more
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
If at times these letters, especially in the beginning, are too gossipy and require too much reference to footnotes (who are these people?), they settle into more consistent snark and discussion of writing, a circle of friends, life in England and France (and criticism of the US), and growing old. Waugh works at his misanthropic tendencies ("The more I see of other people's children the less I dislike my own.") and Mitford is a good foil, with her forced good humor covering her own domestic trou ...more
Jul 11, 2016 rated it liked it
The friendship between Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Mitford was a genuine meeting of minds. The letters best when talking about each others or their own work. At times they are the sharpest pens, at times they are two cranky old people out of step with the times. The letters are what they are, as a reader the experience is somewhat uneven.
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
An excellent and highly entertaining book, chock full of letters, notes and photos from the Mitford-Waugh world, from the "group of London socialites know as the Bright Young Things."

The correspondence between Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Mitford comprises just over 500 letters, some 200 from Evelyn and 300 from Nancy.

Both Nancy and Evelyn had the gift of writing letters as though they were talking to each other. Reading their correspondence is like overhearing a conversation between two quick-witted,
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As one of the blurbs says, "there may have been easier people than Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, but it's doubtful there were many funnier." Reading this book is like being part of a lengthy, gossipy conversation between two old, and highly amusing friends. Interesting people recur in the correspondence - Graham Greene, Randolph Churchill. We become familiar with the other Mitford sisters, especially Debo (Deborah), Diana, and Decca (Jessica), and the lovely Honks (Diana) Cooper. One is left w ...more
Marius van Blerck
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I believe that Waugh was the most gifted English writer of the 20th century. He was infatuated by the eccentric (some would say totally potty) Mitford family, and his letters to the various sisters (Nancy in this case) are always a pleasure to read. As an aside, as of today (February 2011) only one of the sisters survives - Deborah, the Duchess of Devonshire, who was the baby of the family and (as Signor Monty Python might have said) the "sensible" one. She (at 90) has just published her own mem ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
That this collection even exists is nothing short of a literary dream come true for me. Evelyn Waugh is one of my favorite 20th century authors, and Nancy Mitford is one of my favorite Mitfords as well as another of my favorite authors. I knew that they had a correspondence, but what luck that Charlotte Mosley took the time to collate and edit it for us to enjoy. For those unaware, Evelyn Waugh was a man and a Catholic (once married to a she-Evelyn, really, but married to Laura by this time) who ...more
Sep 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, letters
It has taken me quite a while to get through this anthology of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh’s letters. The book seemed to pall in the middle, although that did coincide with my house move and consequent distraction from everything not relating to packing and unpacking. I took it up again today and read the second half in a rush. The letters within are succinct, witty, and clever. They include gossip about a vast herd of friends, acquaintances, enemies, family members, professional rivals, and ...more
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: letters
I thoroughly enjoyed this book of letters between Mitford and Waugh. They are laugh-out-loud funny in a number of places, and give interesting insight into the lives and writing processes of these two. It's also fascinating to hear them talk about their other writer friends and acquaintances, like Graham Greene, Thomas Merton (Waugh edited some of his early writing), etc. Evelyn was a committed Catholic and Nancy couldn't be bothered about anything religious, but they were very close friends the ...more
Terence Manleigh
For fans of Mitford and Waugh, catnip. Don't expect them to be perfect, though, darlings. Especially him! Oh, dear. Wonderful insights about their novels abound...
Aug 12, 2008 marked it as to-read
Shelves: epistolary
I had no idea such a fabulous thing existed! Obviously I will read this.
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
A really good correspondence between two writers...every one interesting.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Lovely and sometimes appalling; best read a few letters at a time.
Mar 11, 2007 rated it liked it
A good read but, like any collection of letters, a little slow at times. I read this over a couple months, and it was nice to have a book that I could pick up or set aside and not feel lost after leaving it for a month.

The most fun was hearing their gossip about mutual friends and the comments and insights about the books they were both writing and reading.

I love both Waugh and Mitford, so it was a lot of fun for me, although I would probably not recommend this book to anybody who didn't already
Jan 08, 2013 marked it as didnt-finish
I didn't finish this one, simply because it was on loan from the library and I had so much else to read. This is such a great read but I felt more like reading fiction and this is a massively long collection that involves a lot of footnotes (and skipping back and forth if you're forgetful like me), so I thought I'd better return it and get it out another time or buy it so I can read it over a longer period of time.
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
this is great!!!!! loved every last letter. I had to finally finish after I'd read Julia Child's My Life in France---same time periods!!!!! Totally different experiences in Paris BUT both NM and JC loved the French!!!
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
These two were as mean as they were brilliant: come for the uncharitable nicknames they give everyone -- Smarty, Honks, Prod -- and stay for the discussions of women's sexual feelings for horses and Waugh's hatred of socialists, the French and his own children.
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this immensely, even though this is an extensive collection of letters. The voices of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh are sharp, amusing, wicked, and endearingly affected. It held my attention even in hectic environments!
Barbara Mader
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mitfords
A keeper. Having read enough of Mitford, Acton, Hill, etc. to be familiar with the "cast of characters," this was a fun, informative read. Great, entertaining letters of course. And another long list of other books to read gleaned from the letters themselves . . . .
Apr 04, 2007 added it
This is one of mine that is usually within easy reach. Mitford! Waugh! Mitford and Waugh WRITING TO EACH OTHER. There is a paralyzingly nasty remark about someone like Cyril Connolly on every other page. What's not to love?
Red Fields
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
I found this book of letters highly entertaining despite the occasional instances of anti-semitism (Waugh), anti-Americanism (Mitford) and racism (both of them). I intend to pursue reading biographies of each of them and more of their work.
Aug 12, 2008 added it
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Kelly
I hate Waugh but I love Mitford...oh what to do? I've also never read an epistolatory collection; I don't know if I should start with one where I hate half the writers.
May 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-mitfords
Fun to read letters between two such gifted and sarcastic writers, but the snarky comments do start to wear thin. Good footnotes help to sort out the characters mentioned in the letters.
Read this years ago. A little drier than some of the Mitford-alia I've read, but still pretty interesting, as I recall.
rated it really liked it
Oct 02, 2016
Katy Wheatley
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Jan 02, 2015
Emily Baughan
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Jul 01, 2014
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Jun 22, 2016
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Waugh's humour 1 2 Apr 18, 2014 02:37PM  
Waugh's humour 1 2 Apr 18, 2014 02:31PM  
  • Love from Nancy
  • Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford
  • The Letters Of Evelyn Waugh
  • Nancy Mitford
  • In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor
  • Nancy Mitford: A Biography
  • A Life in Letters
  • A Life of Contrasts: An Autobiography
  • Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
  • Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-1921
  • Diana Mosley: Mitford Beauty, British Fascist, Hitler's Angel
  • The House of Mitford
  • The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London
  • London War Notes, 1939-1945
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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