There has never been a better demonstration of the importance of
formal education than the Mitford sisters. Lord Redesdale, their father,
believed that educating girls made them coarse and unwomanly; the
Mitford girls therefore learned reading, their sums, and all the
refinements expected of a mid-Victorian lady from a series of harassed,
barely competent governesses. No wonder two of the girls grew up to
worship Hitler and one Stalin; that's
what happens when children of average intelligence aren't given the
tools to develop critical thinking skills.
Deborah Mitford, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, was fortunate to be
intelligent and determined enough to transcend her family's failings.
After her husband unexpectedly succeeded to the dukedom it was she who
turned an estate of crumbling dignity into a profitable business. She
wrote popular books about Chatsworth, sold dozens of works of art to pay
for needed repairs, opened the house to tours and rented it to film
crews (you can see it as Pemberley in the 1995 version of Pride and
), and carried out major improvements to the estate itself
that increased agricultural profits. This despite undergoing an
absolutely devastating series of miscarriages and stillbirths: of the
seven children she carried to term, four were stillborn. Can you even
Deborah Mitford, the last Mitford sister, was 94 years
old when she died on September 24. Charlene gets two points and five for
a solo. Total: 7.--Charlene
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