The Lives of the Mitfords

The collected lives of the lesser Mitfords. An occasional Twitter series.

Acuity Mitford. Almost entirely blind, defected to the Isle of Wight in a commandeered tug boat, believing it to be Vichy France.

Scarcity Mitford. Though her existence was predicted by standard models, she was never observed experimentally and is now disputed.

Hilarity Mitford. Committed after slaughtering a pony with a croquet mallet aged 14. Choked on a bun in Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum, 1968.

Polarity Mitford. Walked on her hands due to a rare congenital disorder. Drowned while paddling with SS officers in Biarritz in 1943.

Dexterity Mitford. Showed early promise as a concert pianist, but lost her right arm to a cheetah while on safari in Kenya.

Temerity Mitford. Claimed to have discovered a new transuranic element while mushrooming. Was briefly engaged to marry a performing stoat.

Enormity Mitford. Never publicly acknowledged. Described by nursing staff engaged at Exbury. May have had superfluous limbs or organs.

Disparity Mitford. Embittered by her foreshortened leg, joined a strict order and was secluded at Nantes. Had a lifelong fear of teaspoons.

Asperity Mitford. Was sent down from Newnham following an incident in which a promising classicist was strangled with an inner tube.

Entity Mitford. Appears in few contemporaneous records. May have suffered from debilitating visions or been a Shetland pony.

Brevity Mitford. Died aged four, following a verb conjugation accident. Her dismissed governess shot herself in a tea room.

Alacrity Mitford. Stole a prototype racing car from an Italian suitor. Fled to Monte Carlo, killing a postmistress and several goats.

Superfluity Mitford. Lived for eleven years on an island on the family estate, having been left behind after a moonlight picnic.

Calamity Mitford. Said to have been devoted to the 81 Ceylonese orphans she immolated in a marshmallow-toasting accident.

Conformity Mitford. Expelled from a cult of Isis following an accounting dispute, she joined a farming commune. Died of rhubarb poisoning.

Domesticity Mitford. A notoriously inept hostess whose grand dinners, said Auden, “were like digging one’s own grave with a sorbet spoon”.

Animosity Mitford. Though never charged, was suspected of bludgeoning to death with a lacrosse stick the mistress of Girton College.

Futility Mitford. Devoted her life, and those of several domestic servants, to the development of a chocolate steam engine.

Fatality Mitford. Mistaken for a stag due to her customary Valkyrie helmet, she was shot dead by a hunting party in the Highlands.

Charity Mitford. Founded a highly exclusive orphanage, whose handful of residents perished under an avalanche while skiing at St Moritz.

Trinity Mitford. Born with a vestigial third arm, she lived in seclusion at Exbury. Composed several sonatas for piano and harmonica.

Chastity Mitford. A socialite and noted beauty. Her “appetites”, it was rumoured, left Aldous Huxley “a near invalid” in a sanatorium.

Modernity Mitford. Obsessed with the “horrors of mechanisation”. Arrested in 1937 after opening fire on an omnibus in Piccadilly.

Extremity Mitford. Born without hands or feet, her inventions included a prosthetic croquet mallet. Died of carpet burn complications.

Publicity Mitford. Lived in seclusion in the Orkneys, where she devoted herself to the excision of gypsies from the operatic repertoire.

Unanimity Mitford. Suffered from multiple personality disorder, on several occasions harshly reviewing her own novels in Books and Bookmen.

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