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Nancy Mitford

  • Sophia wished that Florence would not talk about the Almighty as if his real name was Godfrey, and God was just Florence's nickname for him.

  • The great advantage of living in a large family is that early lesson of life's essential unfairness.

  • ... 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.

  • I think housework is far more tiring and frightening than hunting is, no comparison, and yet after hunting we had eggs for tea and were made to rest for hours, but after housework people expect one to go on just as if nothing special had happened.

  • Paris in the early morning has a cheerful, bustling aspect, a promise of delicious things to come, a positive smell of coffee and croissants, quite peculiar to itself. The people welcome a new day as if they were certain of liking it, the shopkeepers pull up their blinds serene in the expectation of good trade, the workers go happily to their work, the people who have sat up all night in night-clubs go happily to their rest, the orchestra of motor-car horns, of clanking trams, of whistling policemen tunes up for the daily symphony, and everywhere is joy.

  • One's emotions are intensified in Paris — one can be more happy and also more unhappy here than in any other place.

  • ... this was love. Twice in her life she had mistaken something else for it; it was like seeing somebody in the street who you think is a friend, you whistle and wave and run after him, and it is not only not the friend, but not even very like him. A few minutes later the real friend appears in view, and then you can't imagine how you ever mistook that other person for him.

  • Aunt Sadie so much disliked hearing about health that people often took her for a Christian Scientist, which, indeed, she might have become had she not disliked hearing about religion even more.

  • Always remember, children, that marriage is a very intimate relationship. It's not just sitting and chatting to a person; there are other things, you know.

  • Nothing about human beings ever had the power to move me as a child. Black Beauty now ... !

  • ... Davey and Aunt Emily ... sat there, smugly thinking that they had always looked exactly the same. Quite useless to discuss questions of age with old people, they have such peculiar ideas on the subject. 'Not really old at all, only seventy,' you hear them saying ...

  • ... nothing makes people crosser than being considered too old for love ...

  • 'Twenty-three and a quarter minutes past,' Uncle Matthew was saying furiously, 'in precisely six and three-quarter minutes the damned fella will be late.'

  • I am sometimes bored by people, but never by life.

  • Americans relate all effort, all work, and all of life itself to the dollar. Their talk is of nothing but dollars.

  • An aristocracy in a republic is like a chicken whose head has been cut off: it may run about in a lively way, but in fact it is dead.

  • Cocktail party? ... It's a new idea — don't you have them at Oxford? You will soon, mark my words. I rather like them. You're not obliged to talk to anybody and when you get home, it's bedtime.

  • Most people like reading about what they already know — there is even a public for yesterday's weather.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • "Reading for Pleasure," The Water Beetle ()
  • People in towns are always preoccupied. 'Have I missed the bus? Have I forgotten the potatoes? Can I get across the road?'

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • "Diary of a Visit to Russia," The Water Beetle ()
  • ... Greece is not a country of happy mediums: everything there seems to be either wonderful or horrible ...

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • "Wicked Thoughts in Greece" (1955), The Water Beetle ()
  • Surely a King who loves pleasure is less dangerous than one who loves glory?

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • "In Defense of Louis XV" (1956), The Water Beetle ()
  • A typical Irish dinner would be: cream flavored with lobster, cream with bits of veal in it, green peas and cream, cream cheese, cream flavored with strawberries.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • "The Other Island," The Water Beetle ()
  • One thing about tourists is that it is very easy to get away from them. Like ants they follow a trail and a few yards each side of that trail there are none.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • "The Tourist" (1959), The Water Beetle ()
  • I love children, especially when they cry, because then somebody takes them away.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • "The Tourist" (1959), The Water Beetle ()
  • ... there are worse things than poverty, though I can't for the moment remember what they are ...

  • Chickens are cheerless birds, I advise you to keep geese which can be taught to follow like dogs, one needs all the companionship one can get in these days.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1931, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • In France that is the one rule, never make trouble.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1953, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • What is so nice & so unexpected about life is the way it improves as it goes along. I think you should impress this fact on your children because I think young people have an awful feeling that life is slipping past them & they must do something — catch something — they don't quite know what, whereas they've only got to wait & it all comes.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1952, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • The wedding was splendid & I greatly enjoyed it but oh the get ups I never saw worse. I'm sure English women are dowdier than when I was young. The hats were nearly all as though made by somebody who had once heard about flowers but never seen one — huge muffs of horror.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1963, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • ... the test of a cook is how she boils an egg. My boiled eggs are fantastic, fabulous. Sometimes as hard as a 100 carat diamond, or again soft as a feather bed, or running like a cooling stream, they can also burst like fireworks from their shells and take on the look and rubbery texture of a baby octopus. Never a dull egg, with me.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1963, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • A slight bore in Greece is that one is discouraged from swimming from a boat as there are sharks. This is quite new & said to be Nasser's fault, he is supposed to beckon them through the canal to eat us all up. I don't greatly fear death but it would be too ridiculous — even one's greatest friends would laugh if one were eaten I feel!

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1963, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • ... oh how television diminishes everything.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1965, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • English doctors have killed 3/4 of my friends & the joke is the remaining 1/4 go on recommending them, so odd is human nature.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1970, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • Sisters are a shield against life's cruel adversity.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • in Mary S. Lovell, The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family ()

Nancy Mitford, English wit, biographer, novelist

(1904 - 1973)

Full name: Nancy Freeman-Mitford.