Oh dear. Oh dear. It’s a dark, dark day. The last of the fabled Mitford sisters has died. Deborah, the Dowager Duchess Devonshire and the chatelaine of one of England’s grandest country estates, Chatsworth, has died peacefully in her sleep at age 94. Can you IMAGINE a world without a Mitford sister in it? I can’t. The legendary Mitford sisters captivated and scandalized British society in the 1930s and ’40s. They made the Kardashians seem positively jejune (welllllll….). What fun they were! Between them there was a duchess, a lady author, a Fascist, a Nazi, a Communist, and a housewife. There were suicide attempts, prison stints, feuds, fabulous weddings, and DECADES of tabloid scandals.
Deborah, or Debo as she was called, was the youngest and probably the sweetest. She married Andrew Cavendish who became the Duke of Devonshire, and with him turned his ancestral home, Chatsworth House, into one of Britain’s most successful stately homes. She also wrote a dozen books, any one of which will have you giggling for HOURS. All of the sisters were prolific letter-writers, in fact, and a substantial body of correspondence still exists, principally letters between them that are A RIOT. Really, there’s nothing I like more than to sink into bed with a book of Mitford correspondance. Might I suggest starting with Love, From Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford (QUITE POSSIBLY MY FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME) and The Mitfords, Letters Between Six Sisters. Then you can branch out into biographies of the sisters (starting with The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family), Nancy’s thinly-veiled fictional accounts of their upbringing (The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate) Oh, and The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh is a must. As is A Talent to Annoy: Essays, Articles, and Reviews by Nancy Mitford. Omg, imagine if you REALLY DID read all these books and became obsessed with the Mitfords? Imagine the long Twitter and Facebook talks we could have! DO IT! DO IT!