The Mitford Sisters, or the Mitford Girls, were six daughters of an English Lord who dominated the headlines in the 1930s and 40s with their scandalous behavior and extreme politics. There can be few families whose members can claim close personal friendships with Maya Angelou and JFK, Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler. There can be few that include four best-selling authors, one a Duchess. Yet the Mitfords, the six daughters of an obscure Oxfordshire aristocrat and despite a limited education and rural seclusion were able to achieve literary achievement and lived lives which were often at the center of controversy. This conversation will look at the biographies of these compelling Mitford Sisters as we deepen our understanding of the lives and works of these formidable ladies.
Together, we’ll look at each of the sisters on an individual level as well as using the familial context as a whole to better learn just who they were, and how they got there. Nancy enjoyed a hugely successful career as a novelist, often drawing on biographical details to create memorable and often hilariously funny characters, whilst Pamela, the most "rural" Mitford preferred a quiet life in the country, marrying the dashing and brilliant physicist Derek Jackson. The polarizing politics of the time drew Jessica (Decca) to Communism, eloping at 19 and eventually settling in California where she joined the American Communist Party and worked closely with The Civil Rights Congress.
Next, we’ll learn of the sister closest in age to Decca, Unity, whose fixation on Hitler led her to move to Munich where she ingratiated herself into his inner circle with tragic consequences. We’ll discuss how beautiful Diana scandalized society by leaving her wealthy husband Brian Guinness for the married leader of the English fascists, Oswald Mosley. Lastly, the youngest, Debo married into the Cavendish family becoming Duchess of Devonshire and chatelaine (and savior) of Chatsworth, one of the most important country houses in England. As we close our conversation, we will look at the childhood homes of the family and the background of Lord and Lady Redesdale as well as the one brother, beloved Tom, who led a short but remarkable life, dying in Mandalay during World War II.
The fascination with the Mitford Sisters and the diverse spread in personalities is something that still captures the curiosity of learners today. Led by an expert on Art History with a keen interest in the Mitfords, Hattie Bennett, this interactive seminar will look at the intriguing biographies of the Mitford Sisters. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased knowledge of the lives and works of these remarkable women.
About Your Expert
Hattie has a degree in History of Art and an MA in Historic Interiors, she has a life-long passion and fascination in Fine and Decorative Arts, particularly works produced in Europe from the 16th to 18th century. After working for the Royal Collection in the Print Room at Windsor Castle, she was a curator for a private collector of 17th and 18th century prints and drawings. Hattie has worked for London's foremost framer of important old master paintings during which time she sharpened her appreciation and understanding of the decorative arts and the changing tastes of collecting. Recently she has been dealing in prints and works of art as well as taking groups of all ages to museums and galleries.
This conversation is suitable for all ages.
90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.
Hattie gave a very in-depth and holistic overview of this controversial and interesting family. I learned a lot and really enjoyed this. I thought she did a fantastic job!
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What an enjoyable and fact filled class. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Hattie’s presentation and all of the information she shared. I wish I had prepared questions ahead of time for your lovely guest! She was wonderfully knowledgeable and shared small quips and quotes about the Mitford sisters that I had never heard before.
I look forward to another context conversation in the near future. I am so glad I found your wonderful service.
This was great lecture. Ms. Bennett's seminar was fascinating. Clearly she researched her subjects thoroughly.