the mitford girls invented notoriety. people may have gotten attention
before but not like those mitfords. the sisters diana, jessica, unity, nancy, pamela and deborah (aka “debo”) gave new meaning to, “fasten your seatbelts it’s going to
be a bumpy couple of decades.” standing always nearby was their much puzzled brother tom who died in burma during the war and missed most of the fun.
deborah who I was lucky enough to meet was thought the most sensible and quietest of the mitfords went on to become the duchess of devonshire and rescued the cavendish family home from ruin with the help of her husband the very sardonic duke. that would be andrew cavendish. this remarkable group of women ruled the society and scandal pages for decades. just when you thought things had calmed down diana dumps her aristocratic husband brian guiness for fascist leader sir oswald mosley while regaling society with her affection for adolf hitler. unity shoots herself in the head when britain declares war on germany--but fails to kill herself. she too loved the fuhrer.
jessica elopes with esmond romilly to the spanish civil war eventually and famously writing a book eviscerating the american funeral industry. pamela marries a millionaire physicist only to leave him to spend the rest of her life with a woman.
an italian no less. nancy not to be outdone married a brit but then dallied endlessly with a french statesman going on to write several racy novels.
this was living out loud and on a world stage before the internet made everything
much too easy so that any and all news now seems to have lost all its
power or punch. when’s the last time you gasped? when nicole kidman was on
the cover of vogue? or a former olympian admitted to his long hidden love for silk
and satin? this is a shadow life we are leading--
so much for grist and grime of real headlines.