Five Things Friday: Duchess of Devonshire Edition

During my morning reading I came across the news that the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the former Deborah Mitford, had died. She lived an amazing life in her 94 years. For my “Five Things Friday” post this week, I’d like to share a few links & books about her:

reading about the duchess of devonshire

Blog Posts About The Duchess of Devonshire

1. From the UK Daily Mail: Last of the Mitford Sisters has Died. Includes many pictures.

2. Here’s a feature from Vogue about the Dowager Duchess and her granddaughter from 2010: The Duchess of Devonshire and Stella Tennant.

Books about The Duchess

3. My first in depth look at the fascinating six Mitford sisters came with The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary Lovell. It’s a hefty 529 pages long. And there’s not one dull page among them.

How and why these women were so brilliant, funny, obsessive, horribly misguided, willful, spoiled, neglected, brittle, devoted, flamboyantly public, intensely private, eccentric, relatively “normal” and so on (you could use almost any opposite adjectives you choose) is a huge subject.

But the author does a skillful job of presenting the evidence. And she does so without favoring one POV over another (several of the sisters wrote memoirs or novels about their family).

4.The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, edited by Charlotte Mosely (daughter-in-law of one sister) is the Mitfords in their own words.

5. All in One Basket is the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire in her own words. This collection of essays is witty and well-written, despite her self-deprecation as to her writing ability. I actually read sections aloud to my husband (who had no previous knowledge of the Mitfords) because they were so entertaining.

The Unexpected Duchess of Devonshire

Deborah Mitford didn’t expect to become Duchess of Devonshire. World War 2 brought that about when national tragedy caused personal tragedy (the death of her husband’s older brother). Her husband became Duke in 1950. The death duties (taxes) were so high (80% in struggling post-war Britain) that they took 24 years to pay off. Thanks in no small part to the new Duchess, they managed this.

They turned Chatsworth back into one of the most acclaimed non-royal houses in England. They knew or were related to nearly any important figure you can think of. (Winston Churchill and the Kennedy Family, just to name two examples.)

Reading anything about or by the Duchess is a fascinating peek into nearly any interesting event or person from her time.

Have you ever read anything about or by the Mitfords?

five things friday

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