Reference Entry

Mitford, Jessica

Robert L. Gale

in American National Biography Online


Published online June 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.1603374

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Mitford, Jessica (11 September 1917–23 July 1996), writer and social critic, was born at Batsford Park, Gloucestershire, England, the daughter of David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman Mitford (the second Lord Redesdale) and Sydney Bowles Mitford. Since her parents felt that girls did not need to go to school, they tutored their six daughters at home but dispatched their one son to Eton. While her pro-Nazi sister, Unity, decorated their sitting room with swastikas and fasces, Jessica Mitford retaliated by scratching hammers and sickles in the windows with a diamond ring. In 1937 she eloped with Esmond Romilly, her second cousin and a nephew of Winston Churchill. After the couple briefly supported the Loyalist guerrillas in Spain, they were married in Bayonne, France. Home again in England, they worked for an advertising agency in London until 1939 then traveled to the United States and held a variety of jobs. Jessica Mitford became a union organizer, tended bar in a Miami restaurant, and clerked in a dress shop in Washington, D.C....

Reference Entry.  1268 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History ; Society and Culture

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