OVERRIDE

Wait for Me!

Memoirs

Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire; with Charlotte Mosley

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, is the youngest of the famously witty brood of six daughters and one son that included the writers Jessica and Nancy, who wrote, when Deborah was born, “How disgusting of the poor darling to go and be a girl.” Deborah’s effervescent memoir Wait for Me! chronicles her remarkable life, from an eccentric but happy childhood roaming the Oxfordshire countryside, to tea with Adolf Hitler and her sister Unity in 1937, to her marriage to Andrew Cavendish, the second son of the Duke of Devonshire. Her life changed utterly with his unexpected inheritance of the title and vast estates after the wartime death of his brother, who had married “Kick” Kennedy, the beloved sister of John F. Kennedy. Her friendship with that family would last through triumph and tragedy.

In 1959, the Duchess and her family took up residence in Chatsworth, the four-hundred-year-old family seat, with its incomparable collections of paintings, tapestry, and sculpture—the combined accumulations of generations of tastemakers. Neglected due to the economies of two world wars and punitive inheritance taxes, the great house soon came to life again under the careful attention of the Duchess. It is regarded as one of England’s most loved and popular historic houses.

Wait for Me! is written with intense warmth, charm, and perception. A unique portrait of an age of tumult, splendor, and change, it is also an unprecedented look at the rhythms of life inside one of the great aristocratic families of England. With its razor-sharp portraits of the Duchess’s many friends and cohorts—politicians, writers, artists, sportsmen—it is truly irresistible reading, and will join the shelf of Mitford classics to delight readers for years to come.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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Chapter 1 We Are Seven

Blank. There is no entry in my mother’s engagement book for 31 March 1920, the day I was born. The next few days are also blank. The first entry in April, in large letters, is ‘KITCHEN CHIMNEY SWEPT’. My parents’ dearest wish was for a big family of boys; a sixth girl was not worth recording. ‘Nancy, Pam, Tom, Diana, Bobo, Decca, me’, intoned in a peculiar voice, was my answer to anyone who asked where I came in the family.

The sisters were at home and Tom was at boarding school for this deeply disappointing event, more like

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REVIEWS

Praise for Wait for Me!

“Charming, captivating, and at times wickedly funny. ‘Wait for Me!’ was the refrain of young ‘Debo’, the baby of the family. Now ninety, she has caught up beautifully.” —Time

“A national treasure.” —Sarah Lyall, The New York Times

Wait for Me! . . . teem[s] with memories of love, war, betrayal, heartbreak, housekeeping, and frolic . . . tantalizing . . . riveting.” —Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review

“Admirably done, cannily blending disclosure and reticence in a charming book that kept me riveted.” —Miranda Seymour, The Guardian (London)

“[Debo] is in possession of what I can only describe as a uniquely Mitford-esque sensibility: loving but unsentimental . . . able to find the ridiculous in almost anything.” —Rachel Cooke, The Observer (London)

Praise for Counting My Chickens . . .

“More entertaining than anything I could say about it.” —P. J. Kavanagh, The Spectator

Praise for Home to Roost

“Nobody with an interest in the past century could fail to be interested in the gossip, which extends to just about everyone of interest.” —Matthew Bell, The Independent on Sunday

“Behind the wit and quips, there is something else stronger and more rigorous. She goes to the ballet at Covent Garden with the Queen Mother and notices that throughout the entire performance, the Queen Mother’s back ‘never once touched the chair.’ That is how the Duchess is too—never a slouch, never a saggy moment, even in grief alert, attentive, observant.” —Adam Nicolson, The Spectator

Praise for In Tearing Haste

“One of the great twentieth-century correspondences . . . Bursting with wit and conviviality.” —James Purdon, The Observer (London)

“Beguiling . . . Hugely enjoyable . . . What these letters so wonderfully demonstrate is an unfailing appetite for life.” —Anne Chisholm, The Spectator

Praise for The Mitfords

“Funny, loving, sparkly, snarky, heartbreaking, chilling, gossipy, wise.” —Amanda Lovell, O, The Oprah Magazine

Praise for Counting My Chickens . . .

“More entertaining than anything I could say about it.” —P. J. Kavanagh, The Spectator

Praise for Home to Roost

“Nobody with an interest in the past century could fail to be interested in the gossip, which extends to just about everyone of interest.” —Matthew Bell, The Independent on Sunday

“Behind the wit and quips, there is something else stronger and more rigorous. She goes to the ballet at Covent Garden with the Queen Mother and notices that throughout the entire performance, the Queen Mother’s back ‘never once touched the chair.’ That is how the Duchess is too—never a slouch, never a saggy moment, even in grief alert, attentive, observant.” —Adam Nicolson, The Spectator

Praise for In Tearing Haste

“One of the great twentieth-century correspondences . . . Bursting with wit and conviviality.” —James Purdon, The Observer (London)

“Beguiling . . . Hugely enjoyable . . . What these letters so wonderfully demonstrate is an unfailing appetite for life.” —Anne Chisholm, The Spectator

Praise for The Mitfords

“Funny, loving, sparkly, snarky, heartbreaking, chilling, gossipy, wise.” —Amanda Lovell, O, The Oprah Magazine

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire; with Charlotte Mosley

  • Deborah Vivien Freeman-Mitford Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, was brought up in Oxfordshire, England. In 1950 her husband, Andrew, the 11th Duke of Devonshire, inherited extensive estates in Yorkshire and Ireland as well as Chatsworth, the family seat in Derbyshire, and Deborah became chatelaine of one of England’s great houses. She is the author of Counting My Chickens and Home to Roost, among other books, and her letters have been collected in The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters and In Tearing Haste: The Correspondence of the Duchess of Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor. Following her husband’s death in 2004, she moved to a village on the Chatsworth estate.
  • Duchess of Devonshire Deborah Mitford ©Bridget Flemming
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Available Formats and Book Details

Wait for Me!

Memoirs

Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire; with Charlotte Mosley

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