Jessica Mitford, Hons and Rebels
In this funny and perceptive memoir Jessica Mitford describes growing up as the fifth of the notoriously determined Mitford sisters, a formidable group of strong-willed women. An isolated childhood in the hideous Cotswold house built by their father Lord Redesdale (‘Farve’), where life centred round the church and the Conservative party, turned ‘Decca’ as she was known into a lifelong socialist. At 18 she made her escape, eloping spectacularly with her charismatic left-wing cousin Esmond Romilly, moving to the East End of London and then running a bar in Miami. It’s a story of sheer bravado brilliantly told by one of the most eccentric members of an eccentric family.
Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly, To War with Whitaker
Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly and her husband Dan had been married for less than a year when he was called up in September 1939. Their characterful cook-butler Whitaker volunteered to go with him, but Yeomanry rules decreed that though officers could take their servants to war they could not take their wives. Undeterred however, Hermione immediately set off for Egypt in pursuit. Between snatched reunions with Dan, who was eventually taken prisoner, she worked for SOE in Cairo and as personal assistant to General ‘Jumbo’ Wilson in Jerusalem, entertaining everyone who was anyone from King Farouk to Evelyn Waugh. This sparkling diary, which she kept at the end of long working days, is both a passionate love story and a unique behind-the-scenes picture of the war in the Middle East and Europe as seen by a very unconventional aristocrat.
Left, Left, Left
In the early 1980s I began working on my first book, a biography of Nancy Mitford. Four of the six Mitford sisters were then still living, Pamela in the Cotswolds, Diana in Paris with her second...Read more
Love, War and the Countess
I think it was my old friend the Evening Standard columnist Angus McGill who recommended Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly’s war diaries: Angus would have loved her unpretentious skill at conjuring up...Read more
Jessica Mitford found the act of sitting down to write formidably hard. ‘’Tis now 12:30 on the first day I was to really work all day on the book,’ she reported to her husband and daughter in...Read more