Hons and Rebels

Jessica Mitford was part of the legendary English aristocratic Mitford family. Her sisters included the novelist Nancy, Diana, who was imprisoned with her husband Sir Oswald Mosley for being a fascist, Unity, who fell in love with Hitler, and Deborah, who became the Duchess of Devonshire. Jessica was the family communist and eloped with Esmond Romilly, Churchill’s nephew, to go and fight in the Spanish Civil War. Some of the best bits of the book are her descriptions of her childhood. Their poor mother, desperate to knock some sense into her unruly girls, would make them sit down each week and write out how they would economize for a family on an income of 200 pounds a year. Every week without fail Nancy would write at the top of her paper, “199 pounds : flowers.”

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