Nancy Mitford (1904–1973) was born into the British aristocracy and, by her own account, brought up without an education, except in riding and French. She managed a London bookshop during the Second World War, then moved to Paris, where she began to write her celebrated and successful novels, among them The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, about the foibles of the English upper class. Mitford was also the author of four biographies: Madame de Pompadour (1954), Voltaire in Love (1957), The Sun King (1966), and Frederick the Great (1970)—all available as NYRB classics. In 1967 Mitford moved from Paris to Versailles, where she lived until her death from Hodgkin’s disease.
While writing Voltaire in Love, Nancy Mitford found herself drawn to the wit and humanity of his often misunderstood patron and friend, Frederick of Prussia. The result was her only biography of a non-French subject, and the one she considered her finest. “Vivid, detailed, and highly personal.”—Kate Williams
The inimitable Nancy Mitford’s account of Voltaire’s 16-year affair with Émilie du Châtelet—a renowned mathematician and scientist—is a spirited romp in the company of two extraordinary individuals as well as an erudite and gossipy guide to the French Enlightenment. “Voltaire in Love caps [Mitford’s] career as the nonpareil popular biographer of that era.”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
Nancy Mitford crafts a dazzling double portrait of Louis XIV and Versailles, recreating the daily life of the King, his court, and his ministers during Frances golden age. Nancy Mitford gives vivid, indeed searching, portraits of the Grand Monarch, and of his awe-struck relations and courtiers…. Readers will wish that her book were twice as long. —Sunday Times
Nancy Mitford’s delightfully candid biography re-creates the spirit of eighteenth-century Versailles with its love of pleasure and treachery.