Nancy Rodd (Freeman-Mitford), CBE (1904 - 1973) MP

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Nicknames: "The Hon. Mrs Peter Rodd"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Belgravia, London, England
Death: Died in Versailles, Yvelines department, Île-de-France, France
Occupation: Novelist, biographer
Managed by: Fiona Guinness
Last Updated:

About Nancy Rodd (Freeman-Mitford), CBE

Nancy Freeman-Mitford, CBE, styled The Hon. Nancy Mitford before her marriage and The Hon. Mrs Rodd thereafter. She was born 28 November 1904 in Belgravia, Westminster, England and died 30 June 1973 of cancer in Versailles, France. Her remains are interred in the Swinbrook Churchyard in Oxfordshire with those of her sisters. She was the eldest of the six controversial Mitford sisters. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitford_sisters#Mitford_sisters

One of the Bright Young Things on the London social scene in the inter-war years; novelist, essayist and historian: Nancy Mitford was one of the funniest writers of the 20th century. Her novels evoke a lost world of English upper-class elegance and endearing eccentricity, which she observed with the same razor-sharp wit and infectious gaiety that she brought to her historical studies of France.

Parents: oldest child of David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford (1878-1958), 2nd Baron Redesdale and Sydney Bowles (d. 1963).

Married:

  1. on 4 December 1933 to Lt.-Col. Hon. Peter Murray Rennell Rodd, son of James Rennell Rodd, 1st Baron Rennell and Lilias Georgina Guthrie.They divorced in 1958.

the quotable Nancy Mitford


"I have only ever read one book in my life, and that is White Fang. It's so frightfully good I've never bothered to read another."

Romantic life

In 1933, after a going-nowhere romance with homosexual Scottish aristocrat Hamish St Clair-Erskine, she married The Hon. Peter Rodd, nicknamed "Prod", the youngest son of the 1st Baron Rennell. The marriage was a failure; her husband was unfaithful and couldn't keep a job; in time Nancy took over the family finances, working in the bookshop G. Heywood Hill, and was unfaithful in her turn. Though the Rodds separated in 1939, they continued to see one another on a purely friendly basis, and Rodd used her Paris flat as an occasional base. She also gave him financial assistance from time to time. They were divorced in 1958 (although Nancy is described as "the wife of Peter Rodd" on her headstone).

The turning-point in Nancy's hitherto very English existence was her meeting with French soldier and politician Colonel Gaston Palewski (Charles de Gaulle's Chief of Staff), whom she always called "Colonel" and with whom she had a relationship in London during the war. At the end of the Second World War she moved to Paris to be near him. The largely one-sided affair, which inspired the romance between Linda Talbot (née Radlett) and Fabrice de Sauveterre in Mitford's novel The Pursuit of Love, lasted fitfully until Palewski's affair with and eventual 1969 marriage to Violette de Talleyrand-Périgord, the Duchesse de Sagan.

Bibliography

Links

Citations

  • 1. [S1104] Laura Lodge, "re: Mitford Family," e-mail message to Darryl Lundy, 27 May 2004. Hereinafter cited as "re: Mitford Family."
  • 2. [S387] Amazon, online http://www.amazon.com. Hereinafter cited as Amazon.

-------------------- English novelist and biographer Nancy Mitford was one of the Bright Young People on the London social scene in the inter-war years. She is best remembered for her series of novels about upper-class life in England and France, particularly the four published after 1945; but she also wrote four well-received, well-researched popular biographies (of Louis XIV, Madame de Pompadour, Voltaire, and Frederick the Great). She was one of the noted Mitford sisters and the first to publicise the extraordinary family life of her very English and very eccentric family, giving rise to a "Mitford industry" which continues.

Born Nancy Freeman-Mitford on November 28, 1904 at 1 Graham Street (now Graham Place) in Belgravia, London, the eldest daughter of Lord Redesdale, Mitford was brought up at Asthall Manor in Oxfordshire. She was the eldest of the six controversial Mitford sisters.

She wrote an essay in Noblesse Oblige (1956), which helped to popularise the "U", or upper-class, and "non-U" classification of linguistic usage and behaviour (see U and non-U English) — although this is something she saw as a tease and she certainly never took seriously. However, the media have frequently portrayed her as the snobbish inventor and main preserver of this usage. She is credited as editor of the book but in fact the project was organised by the publishers. One of her novels, The Pursuit of Love, had been used by Professor Alan Ross, the actual inventor of the phrase, as an example of upper-class linguistic usage.

Mitford's gift as a comic writer and her humour are evident throughout her novels and also in the many articles which she wrote for the London Sunday Times. In the 1950s and 1960s these articles made her appear to be England's expert on aspects of life across Europe. In 1986 her niece by marriage Charlotte Mosley edited some of these works in: A Talent to Annoy; Essays, Journalism and Reviews 1929–1968. She was a noted letter-writer and her correspondence has been edited by her niece as: Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford (1993) and in The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh (1996); also The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street: Letters between Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill 1952–73 (2004). Her letters and essays are notable for their humour, irony and cultural and social breadth.

Politically a moderate socialist, she somehow kept on good terms most of the time with her sisters, despite the extreme political views of Diana, Jessica and Unity, mainly by deploying her acerbic wit. Some of the sisters' letters are published in The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters (2007).

Personal Life

In 1933, after a going-nowhere romance with homosexual Scottish aristocrat Hamish St Clair-Erskine, she married The Hon. Peter Rodd, nicknamed "Prod", the youngest son of Rennell Rodd, 1st Baron Rennell. The marriage was a failure; her husband was unfaithful and couldn't keep a job; in time Nancy took over the family finances, working in the bookshop G. Heywood Hill, and was unfaithful in her turn. Though the Rodds separated in 1939, they continued to see one another on a purely friendly basis, and Rodd used her Paris flat as an occasional base. She also gave him financial assistance from time to time. They were divorced in 1958 (although Nancy is described as "the wife of Peter Rodd" on her headstone).

The turning-point in Nancy's hitherto very English existence was her meeting with French soldier and politician Colonel Gaston Palewski (Charles de Gaulle's Chief of Staff), whom she always called "Colonel" and with whom she had a relationship in London during the war. At the end of the Second World War she moved to Paris to be near him. The largely one-sided affair, which inspired the romance between Linda Talbot (née Radlett) and Fabrice de Sauveterre in Mitford's novel The Pursuit of Love, lasted fitfully until Palewski's affair with and eventual 1969 marriage to Violette de Talleyrand-Périgord, the Duchesse de Sagan.

In her last four and a half years she endured increasing and finally unbearable pain due to cancer, which was slow to be diagnosed. She refused to complain, but the pain caused her to lose her faith in God.

She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and an Officer in the French Legion of Honour in 1972. It was Palewski who formally invested her, presenting her with the latter decoration, when she was already fatally ill. She died of Hodgkin's Disease on 30 June 1973 in Versailles. Palewski was with her on the day of her death. Her remains were brought home to England and are interred in the churchyard of St Mary's parish church at Swinbrook in Oxfordshire with those of her younger sisters, Unity Mitford (1914–1948) and Diana Mitford (1910–2003).

On June 30, 1972, Mitford died at her home in Versailles, France. She was 68 years old.

Sources: Wikipedia, NYT

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The Hon. Nancy Mitford's Timeline

1904
November 28, 1904
Belgravia, London, England
1933
December 4, 1933
Age 29
1973
June 30, 1973
Age 68
Versailles, Yvelines department, Île-de-France, France
2010
June 13, 2010
- July 11, 2010
Age 68
Asthall Manor, Burford, Oxfordshire, England

The moment you enter the main gates of Asthall Manor, near Burford, passing the two gatepost finials created by sculptor Anthony Turner, you will be aware that you are entering an enchanting world where old and new not only complement each other, but provide a never-to-be-forgotten magical mix.

http://www.onformsculpture.co.uk/press
source: http://www.onformsculpture.co.uk/house_and_garden/

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Swinbrook Churchyard, Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, England
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Swinbrook churchyard, Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, England