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Diana Mosley

Dalley, Jan

ISBN 10: 0394587367 / ISBN 13: 9780394587363
Published by Alfred a Knopf Inc, 2000
Used Condition: As New Hardcover
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book is in perfect condition, Stated First American Edition on copyright page, 318 rough cut pages, cream speckled boards with brown cloth spine and silver lettering. Bookseller Inventory # 000035

Bibliographic Details

Title: Diana Mosley

Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Inc

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Much has been written about and by the Mitford sisters, who variously dazzled and shocked their contemporaries in England and abroad: Nancy, as a celebrated novelist (The Pursuit of Love); Deborah, as Duchess of Devonshire; Unity, famously infatuated with Hitler; Jessica, as a young Communist, and then as the queen of muckrakers (The American Way of Death). But until now there has been no biography of one of the most extraordinary of them, the beautiful and ambitious Diana.

Married at eighteen into the enormously wealthy Guinness family, Diana had it all -- brains, beauty, social position and money. She bore two sons and created a sparkling society circle that included such artists and intellectuals of the interwar years as Cecil Beaton, Lytton Strachey and Evelyn Waugh (who dedicated Vile Bodies to her). But after only three years she was swept up in the love affair that would change her life: with Sir Oswald Mosley, MP, womanizer and charismatic founder of the British Union of Fascists.

Jan Dalley's careful and dedicated research -- which included many interviews and conversations with the subject herself, now nearly ninety and living in France -- enables her to tell Diana Mosley's story in fascinating, and sometimes grim, detail. Growing enthusiasm for the Nazis spurred frequent visits to Germany and meetings with Hitler and other leaders (the Mosleys were actually married in Goebbels's house in 1936); there were struggles to raise money for Mosley's organization and, finally, after war was declared, years of internment in Holloway prison. Yet at the same time there were friendships with people like Winston Churchill (whose affectionate nickname for her was "Dinamite") and, after the war, a comfortable, if controversial, return to respectability.

Hailed on publication in Britain last year as "a triumph: reflective, considered, intelligent," Diana Mosley brings an unforgettable figure to life, and at the same time throws a bright light onto an exceptionally dark episode of British social history.


She was one of the fabulous Mitford sisters, immortalized by eldest sibling Nancy in the novel The Pursuit of Love, whose beauty, wit, and charm enlivened English society during the years after World War I. Yet British editor Jan Dalley makes it clear in this readable biography that Diana Mitford also possessed a steely resolve and a taste for extremism that soon took her far beyond the glittering social circle immortalized by her friend Evelyn Waugh and the "Bright Young People." Wed to wealthy Bryan Guinness in 1929, when she was only 18, she soon fell in love with Oswald Mosley and committed herself to his British fascist party. Diana made frequent visits to Germany and befriended the Nazi elite; when she and Mosley married in 1936, the ceremony was held at Joseph Goebbels's home in Berlin. Unsurprisingly, the Mosleys were arrested shortly after World War II began and spent more than three years in prison. Dalley is sympathetic to Diana's plight--she was separated from her 10-month-old baby when jailed--without condoning her views. Offering "reasons, but no excuses," the narrative concentrates on Diana's youth; two short chapters chronicle her long life after incarceration. Readers will probably agree that the glamorous party girl and fascist wife are the most interesting stages in this complex woman's life. --Wendy Smith

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