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A Talent to Annoy

A Talent to Annoy

Essays, Journalism and Reviews 1929-1971

by Nancy Mitford and Charlotte Mosely
Publication Date: 01/05/2013
Nancy Mitford was a gifted writer and her novels continue to entertain and enthral generation after generation. Yet her journalism, while not being so well known, is full of fizzing humour and sharp-eyed observation. A TALENT TO ANNOY spans Nancy Mitford's career and includes her most famous essay, 'The English aristocracy', in which she introduces the 'U' and 'Non-U' theory of English usage, as well as loving descriptions of France, her dismissal of St Peter's, Rome and an account of a visit to Ireland that prompted one reader to comment: 'Hell would be a more suitable place for you than Ireland.'
Prose: non-fiction
Publication Date:
Capuchin Classics
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Nancy Mitford

Nancy Mitford was born in London on November 28 1904, daughter of the second Baron Redesdale, and the eldest of six girls. Her sisters included Lady Diana Mosley; Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire and Jessica, who immortalised the Mitford family in her autobiography Hons and Rebels.

The Mitford sisters came of age during the Roaring Twenties and wartime in London, and were well known for their beauty, upper-class bohemianism or political allegiances. Nancy contributed columns to The Lady and the Sunday Times, as well as writing a series of popular novels including The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, which detailed the high-society affairs of the six Radlett sisters.

While working in London during the Blitz, Nancy met and fell in love with Gaston Palewski, General de Gaulle's chief of staff, and eventually moved to Paris to be near him. In the 1950s she began writing historical biographies - her life of Louis XIV, The Sun King, became an international bestseller. Nancy completed her last book, Frederick the Great, before she died of Hodgkin's disease on 30 June 1973.

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