Friday, December 11, 2009

book week: cult of personality

"People who need people...are the luckiest people..." And I think that is especially true about today's two contributors, who are just as interesting and wonderful as the individuals whose biographies they devour!

1) Little Augury:

* Nancy Mitford ~ all her biographies, they pull you right in, cerebral and chatty at the same time: Madame de Pompadour, The Sun King, Voltaire in Love, Frederick the Great, and also The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, by Charlotte Mosley
* The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Sisters, by Mary Lovell
* Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna Saint Vincent Millay, by Nancy Milford
* Lady Mary Wortley Montague: Comet of the Enlightenment, by Isobel Grundy
* Edith Wharton: A Biography, by R.W.B. Lewis

Biography has always been a passion for Little A. In grammar school it was Helen Keller and Josephine Bonaparte, and in junior high, Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. The above titles are just part of a long exploration of the subjects and their own works of fiction, poetry, history, design, memoir.

2) Then there's KDM (whose library is the stuff of dreams):

* Nicholas and Alexandra, by Robert K, Massie (I have read this annually since I was in fifth grade, usually in the winter when I am feeling particularly Russian.)
* Madame de Pompadour, by Nancy Mitford
* Mary, Queen of Scots, by Antonia Frasier
* America’s Queen, by Sarah Bradford
* DV, by Diana Vreeland

(top: Jessica, Nancy, Diana, Unity and Pamela Mitford, 1935; bottom: Jacqueline Kennedy, photographed by Mark Shaw, 1961)


Jane said...

Great choices. The Mary Lovell Mitford Sisters book is the benchmark biography, as is the Massie N&A. I went on an Antonia Fraser run last year, her Wives of Henry VIII is also worth reading xoxo

little augury said...

Am thrilled, honoured really, to be included. We do feel Russian in the winter-don't we-Catherine the Great surely comes to mind as this winter's read. Beautiful picks from KDM. So glad we share Nancy Mitford- how she could make history gossipy, soap opera and authentic-no one does the like-she was a one off.
thanks, J.


I haven't read many of these (must get on that), but I do agree with you on Nicholas and Alexandra! I know what you mean by feeling particularly Russian in the winter, by the way- very funny. Yesterday was absolutely freezing here, maybe it's time for me to break out that bio again... Lauren

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

And here is the truth of it for me, there is a clear romance to the photos you have chosen that has me instantly interested. Beside other than cookbooks there is nothing I WOULD rather read than a brillant biography.
Thanks for sharing and warmest regards.

Michelle said...

argh! love this but now i have to add more books to my reading list, hopefully i can keep up :)

Janet said...

Jane ~ I have read the Antonia Fraser book! Love that!

little a ~ the honor is mine!

Lauren ~ hope you are having a "Russian weekend" !!!

romantic query letter ~ thank you...I agree with you about cookbooks. Sometimes they are more fun to read than use!

Michelle ~ I can never keep up with my list!

SuSu said...

I cannot believe I hadn't found your blog prior to this - I lived in the City for 15 years or so and I just love to read and have read many of the books listed above (how's that for a run-on sentence? but I'm way too excited!) The Mitford sisters have intrigued me for years (remember "the Bolter"?)and I have also been intrigued by the Langhorne Sisters (including Lady Nancy Astor, the oldest and of course, Nancy Lancaster, their niece) - somehow they are all connected through marriage, etc. Fascinating. I have also read "Nicholas & Alexandra" more than once and love it! I need to read "Mary, Queen of Scots" and I also recommend that anyone read "Diana Mosely" by Anne deCourcy and "Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire" by Amanda Foreman if this genre is one you love (another run-on sentence).

"America's Queen" is also very good - my husband gave it to me a few years ago and I sat down and read it throughout a trip to Charleston SC. "DV" is also on my list.

At last - other lovely women that share my reading taste! Thank you!