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ACE2302 The Mitford Sisters: Style and Scandal (Morning, online delivery only) is a Course

ACE2302 The Mitford Sisters: Style and Scandal (Morning, online delivery only)

Started Sep 26, 2022

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Full course description

Course Overview

In the 1930s and 40s the British headlines were filled with the stories of the Mitford Sisters. Six women born into the English Upper Classes whose eccentricities, talents and opinions were shocking, challenging and fascinating. Their friends were as diverse as Maya Angelou and Hitler and their politics as polarised. The sisters were renowned for their beauty and intelligence; and believed in expressing themselves forcibly. 

Nancy and Jessica were both writers. Nancy wrote Love in a Cold Climate and coined the term U and non-U to describe English manners. Jessica wrote The American Way of Deathand became a communist. Deborah married Churchill’s nephew and ran the stately home Chatsworth House. Pamela lived a quiet rural life in Tullamaine Castle in Tipperary but her marriage was less than conventional. Unity was rumoured to have had Hitler’s child. Diana married into the wealthy Irish Guiness family and was portrayed in Peaky Blinders.  These were not ordinary women. 

By following their varied stories we will learn about the fashion and elegance of The Bright Young things of their age, look at the popular literature of the time, and consider the political turmoil of the pre-war years. This will be a scandalous roller-coaster ride through Upper Class English society and should appeal to fans of Downtown Abbey as much as to those eager for cultural history. 


Course Schedule 

Monday mornings 10.30-12.30pm. 26 September to 7 November 

Location- Online via Microsoft Teams 


Closing date for applications: Friday 16 September 2022


Week 1 The Family Background and Historical Context

Week 2 Deborah

Week 3 Nancy

Week 4 Jessica and Pamela

Week 5 Unity

Week 6 Diana.


Course Lecturer

 Dr. Emma Bidwell. Lecturer for ACE short courses in UCC, MA in Women’s Studies and an independent scholar. Previous courses include Jane Austen, La Belle Epoque, Edna O’Brien and Somerville and Ross. 


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