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Diana Mosley

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  541 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Diana Mosley was one of the most fascinating and controversial figures of recent times. For some, she was a cult; for many, anathema. Born in 1910 Diana was the most beautiful and the cleverest of the six Mitford sisters. She was eighteen when she married Bryan Guinness, of the brewing dynasty, by whom she had two sons. After four years, she left him for the fascist leader ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published November 4th 2004 by Vintage (first published October 21st 2003)
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Diana Mosley, one of the beautiful sisters in the eccentric Mitford family, was a controversial woman in 20th Century England. She was married at age 18 to Bryan Guinness, a sweet generous man who loved her, and they had two sons. Backed by the Guinness fortune, she entertained lavishly and enjoyed traveling. In 1932 she was attracted to Sir Oswald Mosley, the anti-Semitic leader of the British Union of Fascists. The married womanizer was confident, virile, and charismatic, and Diana left her hu ...more
Barbara Mader
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mitfords
I found this account interesting and pretty even-handed, but I have trouble with the author's insistence that Diana was "the most intelligent" of the Mitford women. I find that hard to believe, even if one accepts the premise that her loathsome political (and personal) views were more or less completely due to her blind loyalty/"love" for Oswald Mosley (who seems a dreadful hate-mongerer as well as a horrible husband and father). I also cannot find that either Diana or Mosley did one single thin ...more
Laura Daly
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having previously read Mary S. Lovell's offering on "The Mitford Girls" I was left interested enough to read more about them all. So I started with probably the most famous of them all, Diana. The book takes us from the Mitford childhood to marriage into the Guinness family where she had 2 sons with Bryan Guinness and then to her relationship with Mosley. The book is well written if quite matter of fact. I came about from the book disliking both Oswald Mosley and Diana Mosley even more than I di ...more
Marius Gabriel
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Diana Mosley's life is the stuff of a rich novel -- and this is how it reads in the very capable hands of Anne de Courcy. This is one of the most entertaining and evocative biographies I have read lately.

Her evident deep affection for her subject makes this a very sympathetic, even partial account. Anne de Courcy treats both Diana and Oswald Mosley with respect and tenderness, perhaps more than they deserve -- and this may be the only weakness of the book, because a little moral jud
Trav S.D.
Competently researched and written, no doubt, but morally bankrupt, treating its Fascist subject as though she were an ordinary celebrity, like Liz Taylor or somebody. What in Mitford's psychology and in that of her famous husband and sister, drove them to Fascism? The book offers no insight. A great deal of time and energy is spent on depicting the Mosleys' ordeal in prison, but none is spent reminding us of the ordeal of millions in concentration camps on the continent, which would very much p ...more
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne de Courcy did a hell of a job writing this book. Detailed and very well written, I was most impressed with the fact that she did not try and justify some of Diana (Mitford) Mosley's more ridiculous and short-sighted political ideas and life choices. I have been fascinated with the Mitford's for a long time - especially the stories about their childhood, their strange made-up language and the funny nicknames they gave each other - so I was eager to read this biography to understand more abou ...more
Aug 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
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Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved reading another book about these extraordinary Mitford gals! The more I read about this family the more I want to know . They were all fascinating among all the elite crowds of Europe and the US too. The whole family were very unique in their views and behaviors . I do. It think a person would be bored reading about a family that socialized with Hitler, Mucillinni , Stalin and others in history that were of many views.
Becca Stokes
Diana Mitford Nee Mosley.
Yeah, she was like "Fascism, why not?"
But a riveting life. Riveting.
Her sister Unity Mitford (that was her name, hand to God) tried to kill herself when Hitler did, ended up just making herself basically retarded. Can't make this stuff up.
Adrian Tinniswood
An excellent book, immensely readable. All the more intriguing because its subject was so very unpleasant in so many ways. The author is also v perceptive about Diana's husband Oswald, who looms so large in the life and the book.
Helen Smith
Fascinating book, as always by A de C. Mrs Mosley clearly completely deluded.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Diana Mosley was one of the famed Mitford sisters who seemingly dominated English high society in the 1920s and 30s: her sister Jessica became a well-known journalist whilst Nancy is famous for novels such as The Pursuit of Love.

Diana’s fame, or notoriety, rests on her twin passions: British fascist Oswald Mosley and Adolf Hitler. Hitler was a guest of honour at Diana and Oswald’s wedding in 1936, which took place in Goebbel’s dining room; Hitler’s ongoing role in Diana’s life made manifest by h
I knew some about Diana Mosley, having read a book about the Mitford sisters several years ago. Here, she is the main focus, and it's impossible to like her at all. Repugnant is the word that I think describes her best. Truly, she was an example of someone who possessed great physical beauty, but was ugly inside.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: group, non-fiction
I knew something about the British Union of Fascists and their leader Oswald Mosley, but I first heard about Diana Mosley from QI:
'Talking of those strange women on Desert Island Discs, did you ever hear Diana Mosley?'

'Now she liked a bit of Wagner.'

'She did like Wagner, I'm very . . . but she . . . she liked Hitler and--'

'That’s right.'

'--and, erm, met him many times. She said, [as Mosley] "Well, what people don’t understand is . . . is . . . is how funny he was. H
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was well written and researched. I loved how the author would write about all the Mitfords so we got a sense of what was happening in the family as a whole.
A biography of a single Mitford sister runs the risk of lacking in context, and indeed, that was a moderate issue with this one. The focus of the book necessarily divorces Diana Mosley's political and personal character from that of her sisters, and I thought that skipped over one of the most appealing aspects of the Mitford story: the wild divergence of the sisters' personalities and politics. On the other hand, the narrowed focus really brings the character of Diana Mosely into sharp relief: n ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An interesting and deeply conflicting read on the life of an intelligent, compelling, deeply flawed person. One of the more enlightening bits for me was the personal affection that Mosley continued to express for her friend Adolph Hitler; although she acknowledged the horrors that became known later, her personal fondness for him provides a view rarely seen of a person who has become a symbol of evil. But who was still a person, and one whose personality was winning enough to lead millions astra ...more
Ian Racey
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most striking thing about Diana Mosley's life is the reminder that Nazis and fascists are really just people who walk among us. For the most part, the first half of the book is a biography of a prototypical example of her class--her upbringing might have been idiosyncratic, as well as the (scandalous) way she ended her first marriage and came to be with her second husband, but they're idiosyncratic in a way that's perfectly emblematic of the English upper classes before the Second World War. ...more
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed this book about a woman who is either loved or loathed.I had already read her sisters letters(nancy Mitford) and Debos book Wait for me so to say it was revealing is being polite.What ever Diana was she was always straight as a die and her love for Mosely and the fascist ideals caused her to subsume herself to be loyal to him.Her incarceration was so totally over the top ....she had a 3 month old son at the time and was forced to leave him with others together with her 3 other bo ...more
Jessica Leight
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting biography of a fascinating historical figure and one that I was already somewhat familiar with from other volumes about the strange Mitford family. I thought the writing had a few notable flaws. First, it lingered too much for my taste on the description of houses and furniture. I'm not sure what we were supposed to take away from this material (other than aesthetic appreciation). Second, it turned a rather noncritical eye on the Mosleys' wealth and the accompanying lifes ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched and fair-minded biography which seemed to suddenly "find its feet" when describing Diana in widowhood. The allusion to a high priestess guarding Mosley's legacy seemed not only apt, but particularly insightful. The more one reads about Mosley himself, the more astonishing it becomes that he was so "successful" with women. I find him repugnant (deliberately old-time word): self-absorbed, selfish, untrustworthy and power hungry, and that's leaving out his political views! I think b ...more
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot about the Mitfords, and found this an engaging and well-written and -researched piece, the author obviously having great access to the family and primary source materials. For that, a great read. But having all that access, I'd hoped for a little more insight into what actually made Diana the way she was, and how she stayed so resolutely subordinate to Mosley, despite having a reasonably intelligent mind (though one wonders, How intelligent could she really have been, to accept s ...more
Holly McIntyre
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this fascinating, mainly because I was heretofore unaware of the extent of the fascist movement in Britain or of the involvement of parts of the Mitford family in it. Since one of the few U.S. references in the book was incorrect (refers to the University of Columbus, Ohio), I did wonder if all the other "facts" were accurate. Nevertheless, it has given me a new appreciation of the interwar and war years and the desire to know more about it. I never knew that Britain jailed German sympat ...more
Sep 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ww2
Pretty good biography--there were parts I disliked and didn't see the point of it (the ghost mentions at the beginning--kind of odd and off topic).

It was a well rounded book that really did show many aspects of Diana Mosley--she was a legendary beauty, charming, cultured, apparently fun to know, and oh yeah a virulent racist and unrepentant friend of Hitler's. Didn't have really any sympathy for imprisonment and bad things in life whatsoever, because the more you read of her, the more of what a
fun in a gossip-y "i can't believe she still likes hitler" kind of way. but overall makes you realize why it's still miserable to be poor and lower class in england. none of these people ever seem to have a real job (besides fomenting riots and looking fabulous), yet shuttle back and forth between various mansions (which all have proper names of course), nonchalantly purchased at prices that are about 100x the yearly salary of their help staff. hmm. actually the cost of a piece of furniture = on ...more
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a particularly likeable character at all, but important to understand how she came to be so enamoured of fascism and continued to espouse its merits and her love of Hitler until she died. Her story is so interesting though: being part of the Mitford family/sisters, her privileged first marriage and life, followed by social ostracism and life with Oswald Mosley, the war and life after it. She was a strong person who didn't care what people thought of her.
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
An excellent biography of a complex, intelligent, beautiful woman with a very wrong-headed political belief. Diana was a member of the large and politically contradictory Mitford family, a fascinating group who ran the gamut from Fascist to Communist. This is a sympathetic tale, but it doesn't pull any punches about Diana's behavior, or that of her husband, leader of the British Fascist movement during WW II. A great read for anyone interested in this little-known side of British history.
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I found the story particularly fascinating since DM had such close connections to both Churchill and Hitler. Her life experiences, however, appear to have taught her little about humanity and widespread human suffering. It was apparent that she was mesmerized by Mosley until her death, and her lack of independent thought fostered a life clearly overshadowed by the men in it...a reflection of most women's lives during these times.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating! I not only enjoyed the book but I learned a tremendous amount about Fascism in England. The subject of Diana Mosley and her husband made for an intriguing and compelling reading experience. I could not put this book down. Plus, I loved the connections that the author made with other famous and infamous people of the time.

I would highly recommend this book. This book is not limited to a certain genre. I believe all readers would enjoy and take something away from this book. Enjoy!
Jun 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The entire Mitford family is fascinating. This focuses on Diana, who was a confidante of Hitler's before WWII, which led to her internment during the war, without access to her children. This was not a fast read, and the last few chapters encompassed a lot of time without much detail, but overall, provided insight into British society and the Fascist movement within England.
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Bright Young Things: October 2016 Diana Mosley by Anne de Courcy 30 35 Nov 14, 2016 02:31PM  
  • Nancy Mitford: A Biography
  • Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford
  • The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters
  • Love from Nancy
  • Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford
  • Nancy Mitford
  • A Life of Contrasts: An Autobiography
  • The Long Week-End: A Social History of Great Britain, 1918-39
  • Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
  • Wait for Me!
  • A Circle of Sisters: Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne Jones, Agnes Poynter, and Louisa Baldwin
  • The House of Mitford
  • Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832
  • The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family
  • Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918-1940
  • Sisters of Fortune: America’s Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad
  • The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London
Anne de Courcy is a well-known writer, journalist and book reviewer. In the 1970s she was Woman’s Editor on the London Evening News until its demise in 1980, when she joined the Evening Standard as a columnist and feature-writer. In 1982 she joined the Daily Mail as a feature writer, with a special interest in historical subjects, leaving in 2003 to concentrate on books, on which she has talked wi ...more
More about Anne de Courcy