Last of Britain's colourful aristocrat Mitford sisters dies



LONDON- The youngest and last of the six Mitford sisters, who fascinated and scandalised British society of the 1940s, has died aged 94.
Deborah Mitford, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire known as "Debo", hobnobbed with the Kennedy family, was painted by Lucian Freud and once had tea with Adolf Hitler.



"She was a unique personality with a wonderfully original approach to life, and a memorable turn of phrase to match that originality," Britain's heir apparent Prince Charles said after her family announced her death.
Nicknamed the "housewife duchess", Deborah was known as one of the less flamboyant of the sisters, some known for their dramatic love lives and extreme political views.
Deborah's passion was her home Chatworth House, a 17th century stately home in the English countryside with a prodigious art collection that the duchess opened to public visits.
Other hobbies were keeping hens and amassing a collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia.
Born Deborah Freeman-Mitford in 1920, she married soldier Andrew Cavendish in 1941, who later became the 11th Duke of Devonshire.
At the age of 90 she published her memoirs "Wait for Me: Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister", a record of high society of balls and debutantes that has vanished forever.
She and her sisters were the "It girls" of their day, and fascinated British society in the decade before the First World War.
Her sister Unity (1914-1948) was a devotee of Hitler, and took Deborah and her mother to meet the dictator for tea on a visit to Germany. Unity shot herself in the head with despair when Britain declared war on Germany.
Another sister Diana (1910-2003), known as Honks, caused scandal when she left her first husband for Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists.
Meanwhile, Jessica (1917-1996) was known as the "red sheep" of the family. She supported the Republican side in the Spanish civil war before migrating to the United States to work for civil rights and the communist cause.
Nancy (1904-1973) was a successful novelist, while Pamela (1907-1994) lived a peaceful life in the countryside.
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Thursday, September 25th 2014
AFP
           


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