The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters (Paperback)
An Instant New York Times Bestseller
“Riveting. The Six captures all the wayward magnetism and levity that have enchanted countless writers without neglecting the tragic darkness of many of the sisters’ life choices and the savage sociopolitical currents that fueled them.” —Tina Brown, The New York Times Book Review
The eldest was a razor-sharp novelist of upper-class manners; the second was loved by John Betjeman; the third was a fascist who married Oswald Mosley; the fourth idolized Hitler and shot herself in the head when Britain declared war on Germany; the fifth was a member of the American Communist Party; the sixth became Duchess of Devonshire.
They were the Mitford sisters: Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah. Born into country-house privilege in the early years of the twentieth century, they became prominent as “bright young things” in the high society of interwar London. Then, as the shadows crept over 1930s Europe, the stark—and very public—differences in their outlooks came to symbolize the political polarities of a dangerous decade.
The intertwined stories of their stylish and scandalous lives—recounted in masterly fashion by Laura Thompson—hold up a revelatory mirror to upper-class English life before and after World War II.
“An engrossing group biography." - The New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
“Meticulously researched, elegantly written. . . . Thompson treats her subjects with great sympathy, even in their ugliest moments. An artful history of a most enthralling family.” —The Atlantic, “Best Books We Missed in 2016”
"Lively, gossipy, and at times quite moving" - The Boston Globe
“Thompson’s biography of some of the most infamous sisters of the 20th century explores the answer to the question: how did one family produce such a remarkable range of [women]?” – Time.com
"Juicy and delightful . . . for fans of WWII history, funny, complicated, and fascinating women, and sisterly spats" - Jessica Grose, Lenny Letter
"Meticulously researched, elegantly written ... an artful history of a most enthralling family." – The Atlantic
“Smart, jaunty, and wittily entertaining . . . Steeped in Mitford lore and myth-making, The Six offers sharply drawn portraits of each woman, teases out the complexities of their fraught, competitive relationships with one another, and sets their lives within the context of a radically changing world.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Engaging . . . Thompson's is an astute, highly readable and well assembled book, and she writes with particular intelligence about the sisters' self-mythologising and their ongoing hold on the public imagination." – The Observer
"Thompson is marvellous at mapping and explicating the webs or skeins of sibling rivalry [in this] gripping and appalling family saga." – The Times
"The first book to consider "the whole six-pack" in the post-Mitford age. And what a remarkable story it is ... Thompson retells the story with great style and illuminating detail." – The Independent
"A breezy vigorous argument for the sisters' powerful, unrepeatable significance ... Thompson combines a subtle understanding of history with enjoyably crisp, tart insights: this is an excellent place either to begin with the Mitfords or proceed with them." – Mail on Sunday
"I was captivated by this group biography, which tells the story of the Mitfords' sensational lives in a fresh and concise way." – Sunday Express
"This is a careful, realistic assessment of their virtues, follies and charm." – Daily Mail
"Not the first-ever book about the Mitford sisters - but it might well be the best of the lot." – Reader's Digest