IMAGE CREDIT- Fanny (EMILY BEECHAM), Linda (LILY JAMES) – (C) Theodora Films Limited & Moonage Pictures Limited – Photographer: Robert Viglasky,
The Pursuit of Love on BBC One, based on Nancy Mitford’s book, is pleasing period drama fans with a tale of love and romance in the upper classes of the 1920s. With the series attracting positive reviews, the spotlight has turned to writer Nancy. But who was Nancy Mitford, and why was her family the most despicable in Britain during the 20th century?
Who were the Mitford sisters and why were they so controversial?
Nancy Mitford: Nancy was born in 1904 and was the eldest daughter of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale. Until the 1920s, he was considered one of the notorious ‘bright young things.
However, Nancy soon began writing. His post-war novels, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, are considered classics. When it comes to her personal life, Nancy divorced her husband in 1957. She then lived in France with her partner Gaston Palevsky and wrote more books – this time historical biography. Nancy died in 1973 at the age of 68.
Pamela Mitford: In 1936, Pamela – known to many as a ‘woman’ – married bisexual physicist Derek Jackson 1936. They lived together in Tullamarine Castle, Ireland, but their marriage ended in 1951. The future Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman – who loved Pamela – described her as “the most rural of them all”. Bisexual herself, Pamela used to spend her days with Italian cavalry Giuditta Tommasi in Gloucestershire.
Diana Mitford: A socialite and a member of the ‘bright young things’ group in 1920s London, Diane soon took a controversial road trip. Her marriage to the aristocratic Brian Walter Guinness failed in 1932 after the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley was chased.
She married the controversial Mosley in 1936 at the house of Joseph Goebbels – a prominent member of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party. Hitler himself was a guest. Due to his connections to the far right, he was arrested during the war and sent to Holloway Prison in North London, eventually released in 1943.
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MI5 said on it in its file: “Diana Mosley, wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, reported on ‘Best Authority”… to be a public threat at the present time, of his family and intimate circle. “She is said to be much smarter and more dangerous than her husband and will do nothing to achieve her ambitions.
Deborah Mitford: In 1941, Deborah married the 10th Duke of Devonshire and the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire became Deborah Cavendish.
A part of the ancestral seat was Chatsworth House. Deborah devoted the rest of her life to transforming the lavish luxurious home in Derbyshire into a tourist attraction and a viable business.
Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK. Deborah, the last remaining Mitford sister, died in 2014 at the age of 94.