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Jessica Mitford's Hons and Rebels: A Humorous and Honest Account of Her Adventures and Activism



- Why is this book worth reading? - What are some of the main themes and events in the book? H2: The Mitford Family - Who were the Mitfords and what was their background? - How did they live and what were their values? - How did they influence and differ from each other? H2: Jessica's Childhood and Education - How did Jessica grow up and what were her interests? - How did she rebel against her family's expectations and traditions? - How did she educate herself and what did she learn? H2: Jessica's Marriage and Political Activism - How did Jessica meet and elope with Esmond Romilly? - How did they participate in the Spanish Civil War and what did they witness? - How did they cope with poverty, hardship, and tragedy? H2: Jessica's Life in America - How did Jessica immigrate to America and what were her challenges? - How did she become a journalist, a muckraker, and a civil rights activist? - How did she write her best-selling books and what were their impacts? H2: Conclusion - What are the main lessons and messages of Hons and Rebels? - How does Jessica's story inspire and challenge us today? - Where can we find more information about Jessica Mitford and her work? H2: FAQs - Who are the other famous Mitford sisters and what did they do? - What is the meaning of the title Hons and Rebels? - How accurate and reliable is Jessica's memoir as a historical source? - What are some of the criticisms and controversies surrounding Jessica's memoir? - What are some of the similarities and differences between Jessica's memoir and Nancy's novels? # Article with HTML formatting Hons and Rebels: A Memoir of an Unconventional Family




Introduction




If you are looking for a captivating, humorous, and insightful memoir that will take you on a journey through the turbulent times of the 20th century, you might want to check out Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford. This book tells the story of Jessica's life as a member of the legendary Mitford family, a clan of aristocratic siblings who became famous (or infamous) for their involvement in various political, social, and cultural movements. From her rebellious childhood in England to her adventurous marriage in Spain, from her impoverished exile in America to her successful career as a writer and activist, Jessica shares her experiences, opinions, and emotions with wit, honesty, and courage.




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Hons and Rebels is not only a fascinating autobiography, but also a valuable historical document that sheds light on some of the most important events and issues of the last century. Through Jessica's eyes, we witness the rise of fascism, communism, democracy, civil rights, feminism, consumerism, journalism, and more. We also get to know some of the most influential figures of the era, such as Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, among others.


In this article, we will explore some of the main themes and events in Hons and Rebels, as well as provide some background information about Jessica Mitford and her family. We will also discuss why this book is worth reading today, what are some of the lessons and messages it conveys, and where can we find more resources about Jessica's life and work.


The Mitford Family




The Mitford family was one of the most prominent and eccentric families in Britain in the 20th century. They were descended from a long line of nobles, politicians, soldiers, writers, artists, and adventurers. Their father, David Freeman-Mitford, was the 2nd Baron Redesdale, a conservative peer and a wealthy landowner. Their mother, Sydney Bowles, was the daughter of a newspaper magnate and a socialite. They had seven children: Nancy, Pamela, Thomas, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah.


The Mitfords lived in various country estates, where they enjoyed a privileged and isolated lifestyle. They had their own private tutors, nurses, nannies, servants, pets, and hobbies. They also had their own codes of conduct, language, humor, and worldview. They were very close and loyal to each other, but also very competitive and opinionated. They were influenced by their parents' values and beliefs, but also by their own personalities and interests.


The Mitfords became famous (or infamous) for their involvement in various political, social, and cultural movements. They were often at the center of scandals, controversies, and debates. They also produced some of the most acclaimed and controversial works of literature, journalism, history, and biography. Some of their achievements and affiliations include:



  • Nancy (1904-1973) was a novelist, biographer, journalist, and historian. She wrote several popular novels based on her family life, such as The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. She also wrote biographies of historical figures such as Madame de Pompadour and Voltaire. She was a supporter of the Conservative Party and a critic of fascism and communism.



  • Pamela (1907-1994) was the least famous and most conventional of the sisters. She was a farmer, an animal lover, a cook, and a gardener. She married Derek Jackson, a physicist and a horse-racing expert. She was apolitical and avoided publicity.



  • Thomas (1909-1945) was the only son and the youngest child of the family. He was a soldier who fought in the Second World War. He was killed in action in Burma in 1945. He was a supporter of the Conservative Party and a friend of Winston Churchill.



  • Diana (1910-2003) was the most beautiful and controversial of the sisters. She married Bryan Guinness, an heir to the Guinness fortune, and later Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists. She was a close friend of Adolf Hitler and a supporter of fascism. She was imprisoned during the Second World War for her political views. She later became a writer and a socialite.



  • Unity (1914-1948) was the most eccentric and fanatical of the sisters. She was obsessed with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. She moved to Munich in 1934 and became part of Hitler's inner circle. She attempted suicide in 1939 after Britain declared war on Germany. She survived but suffered brain damage. She returned to England and died in 1948.



  • Jessica (1917-1996) was the author of Hons and Rebels and the subject of this article. We will discuss her life in more detail in the following sections.



  • Deborah (1920-2014) was the youngest and most successful of the sisters. She married Andrew Cavendish, who became the 11th Duke of Devonshire. She became the Duchess of Devonshire and the owner of Chatsworth House, one of the most famous stately homes in England. She was a writer, a philanthropist, a businesswoman, and a cultural icon.



Jessica's Childhood and Education




Jessica Mitford was born on September 11th, 1917 in Gloucestershire, England. She was nicknamed "Decca" by her family. She was the sixth child and the fifth daughter of David and Sydney Mitford. She grew up in various country estates, such as Asthall Manor, Swinbrook House, and Batsford Park.


Jessica had a happy but unconventional childhood. She was surrounded by love, laughter, adventure, and imagination. She enjoyed playing games with her siblings, reading books from her father's library, exploring nature with her pets, writing stories and poems with her sister Unity, listening to music with her brother Tom, and learning about history with her sister Nancy.


Jessica also had a rebellious streak that made her question her family's expectations and traditions. She disliked formal education and refused to go to school or take exams. She educated herself by reading books on various topics such as politics, Jessica's Marriage and Political Activism




Jessica Mitford was not content with her family's conservative and aristocratic lifestyle. She wanted to explore the world and make a difference. She was inspired by the writings of Karl Marx, George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, and others. She became a communist and a pacifist. She also fell in love with her second cousin, Esmond Romilly, who shared her political views and adventurous spirit.


Jessica and Esmond eloped in 1937, when they were both 19 years old. They ran away to Spain, where they joined the International Brigades to fight against Franco's fascists in the Spanish Civil War. They witnessed the horrors of war, the courage of the people, and the betrayal of the democracies. They also had a daughter, Julia, who died shortly after birth.


After Spain, Jessica and Esmond moved to America, where they hoped to find a better life and a new cause. They settled in Washington D.C., where they worked as journalists and activists. They supported President Roosevelt's New Deal policies and opposed the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. They also had another daughter, Constancia.


Jessica's marriage and political activism were not without challenges and tragedies. She faced criticism and ostracism from her family and society for her choices. She also suffered from poverty, illness, and loneliness. She lost her husband in 1941, when he was killed in action while serving as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. She was left a widow with a young child at the age of 24.


Jessica's Life in America




Jessica Mitford did not give up on her dreams and ideals after losing her husband. She decided to stay in America and continue her work as a writer and an activist. She moved to California, where she met and married Robert Treuhaft, a lawyer and a fellow communist. They had two sons, Benjamin and Nicholas.


Jessica became a naturalized American citizen in 1944. She joined the American Communist Party and worked closely with the Civil Rights Congress, an organization that defended the rights of African Americans and other oppressed groups. She participated in various campaigns, protests, strikes, and lawsuits against racism, discrimination, injustice, and violence. She also befriended some of the most prominent figures of the civil rights movement, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, among others.


Jessica also became a successful author, who used her sharp wit, keen observation, and rigorous research to expose the flaws and follies of American society. She wrote several best-selling books that challenged the status quo and provoked public debate. Some of her most famous works include:



  • The American Way of Death (1963), a scathing critique of the funeral industry and its exploitation of grief and tradition.



  • The Trial of Dr. Spock (1969), a report on the trial of Dr. Benjamin Spock and four other anti-war activists who were accused of conspiracy to counsel draft evasion during the Vietnam War.



  • Kind and Usual Punishment (1973), an investigation of the American prison system and its abuses and failures.



  • Poison Penmanship (1979), a collection of essays on various topics such as journalism, politics, culture, family, etc.



  • A Fine Old Conflict (1980), a sequel to Hons and Rebels that covers her life in America from 1941 to 1958.



Awards and Honors




Jessica Mitford's work as a writer and an activist earned her many awards and honors throughout her life. Some of them include:



  • The George Polk Award for Investigative Reporting in 1970 for her article "Let Us Now Appraise Famous Writers", which exposed the fraudulent practices of a correspondence school that claimed to teach writing skills.



  • The National Magazine Award for Public Interest in 1974 for her article "Life and Death in a Nursing Home", which revealed the poor conditions and abuse of elderly residents in a for-profit institution.



  • The American Civil Liberties Union's Bill of Rights Award in 1977 for her contributions to civil liberties and social justice.



  • The PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award in 1993 for her book The American Way of Birth.



  • The American Humanist Association's Humanist Heroine Award in 1995 for her advocacy of humanism and secularism.



Jessica Mitford was also honored by various organizations and institutions for her achievements and influence. Some of them include:



  • The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which named her a Freethought Heroine in 1988.



  • The University of California, Berkeley, which awarded her an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 1992.



  • The National Women's Hall of Fame, which inducted her as a member in 1998.



  • The Mitford Society, which was founded in 2010 to celebrate and promote the legacy of the Mitford sisters, especially Jessica.



Conclusion




Hons and Rebels is a memoir that tells the story of Jessica Mitford, a remarkable woman who lived a remarkable life. She was born into an aristocratic family that was divided by politics and ideology. She rebelled against her privileged background and became a communist and a pacifist. She eloped with her second cousin and fought in the Spanish Civil War. She immigrated to America and became a journalist and an activist. She wrote several best-selling books that exposed the flaws and follies of American society. She earned many awards and honors for her work and influence. She died in 1996 at the age of 78.


Hons and Rebels is not only a fascinating autobiography, but also a valuable historical document that sheds light on some of the most important events and issues of the 20th century. Through Jessica's eyes, we witness the rise of fascism, communism, democracy, civil rights, feminism, consumerism, journalism, and more. We also get to know some of the most influential figures of the era, such as Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, among others.


Hons and Rebels is also a book that inspires and challenges us today. It shows us how one person can make a difference in the world by following their convictions and passions. It teaches us how to question authority and challenge injustice. It encourages us to explore new ideas and experiences. It reminds us to laugh at ourselves and enjoy life.


If you are interested in learning more about Jessica Mitford and her work, you can find more information at the following sources:



  • Jessica Mitford - Wikipedia



  • Hons and Rebels - Wikipedia



  • The woman who forced us to look death in the face - BBC Future



  • Jessica Mitford American writer Britannica



  • The Mitford Society



FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about Hons and Rebels and Jessica Mitford:



  • Who are the other famous Mitford sisters and what did they do?



  • a socialite, a fascist sympathizer, and a friend of Hitler. She married Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, and was imprisoned during World War II for her political views.



  • Unity was an eccentric and fanatical admirer of Hitler and Nazi Germany. She moved to Munich in 1934 and became part of Hitler's inner circle. She attempted suicide in 1939 after Britain declared war on Germany. She survived but suffered brain damage.



  • Jessica was a communist and a pacifist. She eloped with her second cousin Esmond Romilly to fight in the Spanish Civil War. She later moved to America and became a journalist and an activist. She wrote several best-selling books that exposed the flaws and follies of American society.



  • Deborah was a duchess and a businesswoman. She married Andrew Cavendish, who became the 11th Duke of Devonshire. She became the owner of Chatsworth House, one of the most famous stately homes in England. She was also a writer, a philanthropist, and a cultural icon.




  • What is the meaning of the title Hons and Rebels?



The title Hons and Rebels comes from two nicknames that Jessica Mitford and her siblings used for themselves. The Hons were the members of the Honnish tribe, a secret society that Jessica and her sisters Nancy, Unity, and Deborah formed when they were children. They had their own language, rituals, rules, and symbols. They called themselves Hons because they were all Honourables, being children of a baron. The Rebels were Jessica and her second cousin Esmond Romilly, who ran away together to defy their families and join the Spanish Civil War. They called themselves Rebels because they were rebelling against their privileged background and their conservative society.



  • How accurate and reliable is Jessica's memoir as a historical source?



Jessica's memoir is a personal account of her life and opinions, not a scholarly work of history. It is based on her memories, letters, diaries, and documents that she had access to. It is not a comprehensive or objective source of information about the events and issues that she witnessed or participated in. It may contain errors, omissions, exaggerations, biases, or distortions. It may also reflect her own perspective, agenda, or personality. Therefore, it should not be taken as the final word on any historical matter, but rather as one possible interpretation or viewpoint.



  • What are some of the criticisms and controversies surrounding Jessica's memoir?



Jessica's memoir has been praised by many critics and readers for its humor, style, honesty, and courage. However, it has also been criticized by some for its inaccuracies, inconsistencies, omissions, or distortions of some facts or events. For example:



  • Some critics have questioned Jessica's portrayal of her family as being uniformly conservative or fascist. They have pointed out that some of her siblings or relatives had more nuanced or complex political views or affiliations than she suggested.



  • Some critics have challenged Jessica's account of her elopement with Esmond Romilly as being romanticized or idealized. They have argued that she glossed over some of the difficulties or problems that they faced as a young couple in Spain or America.



  • Some critics have disputed Jessica's claim that she was unaware of Esmond Romilly's death until 1946. They have cited evidence that she was informed of his fate by 1943 or 1944.



  • Some critics have accused Jessica of being unfair or unkind to some of the people that she wrote about in her memoir. They have argued that she misrepresented or maligned some of their actions or motives.




  • What are some of the similarities and differences between Jessica's memoir and Nancy's novels?



Jessica's memoir and Nancy's novels are both based on their experiences as members of the Mitford family. They both use humor, irony, satire, and exaggeration to depict their characters and situations. They both reveal some of the secrets, scandals, and eccentricities of their family and society. However, they also have some differences in their tone, style, purpose, and perspective. For example:



  • Jessica's memoir is a nonfiction work that aims to tell the truth about her life and opinions. Nancy's novels are fiction works that aim to entertain and amuse her readers.



  • Jessica's memoir is written in the first person, from her own point of view. Nancy's novels are written in the third person, from an omniscient narrator's point of view.



Jessica's memoir is more serious, critical, and political than Nancy's novels. Jessica challenges and confronts some of the issues and problems of her time. Nancy avoids or ignores some of the


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