Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Diana Mosley

Madame Yevonde, The Honourable Mrs Bryan Guinness as Venus (1935)

You may know that Paul and I recently bought a house. During our move, we took a bunch of books over to the used bookstore and I happened to come across a copy of Diana Mosley: A Biography of the Glamorous Mitford Sister Who Became Hitler's Friend and Married the Leader of Britain's Fascists. Even though we were actually at the bookstore to reduce the number of books in our house, I had to have it. I love books about interwar socialites. I am a frivolous person.

I honestly didn't much sympathize with Diana (not just the politics, though goodness knows, those were unsympathetic enough) and none of the Mitfords emerge looking like very nice people. Did you know that Nancy Mitford actually supported Diana's wartime imprisonment? Not very sisterly behavior. However, liking the characters doesn't have to prevent one from liking a book. I really found the whole thing quite fascinating. I know the book is titled Diana Mosley but I could have gobbled up more about Diana's Mitford upbringing and her society role as the wife of Bryan Guinness. See? I definitely like the amusing, frivolous bits.

So here's the nit I have to pick: Jan Dalley (the author of Diana Mosley) keeps describing Oswald Mosley's Valentino-esque looks. As if! If we're going to go around comparing him to film stars, Mosley is a total Fairbanks dead-ringer:
Left: Douglas Fairbanks / Right: Oswald Mosley

Aside from the facial features, the only other things the two had in common were fencing skills and marriages to blonde English socialites. Fairbanks's last wife was Sylvia Ashley, who had been married to Anthony Ashley-Cooper. She later married Clark Gable.


I chose this recipe because it seems like just the sort of thing one might be served at a country house--it would look much grander if the fish still had their heads. Being landlocked, we take what we can get.

This is a quite simple (and quick) way to cook fish. Be sure to get trout that still has its skin--the flour coating makes it crisp and delicious--which helps keep the flesh moist.

Buttered Trout

2 trout, cleaned and gutted
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
pinch of dry mustard
2 tablespoons butter
juice of 1/2 lemon

Sprinkle the trout (inside and outside) with a generous amount of salt. Cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

Mix the flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and mustard together in a shallow dish. Set aside. Wipe the interior and exterior of the trout well with a damp paper towel.

Dredge the trout in the seasoned flour and then fry in a large skillet in which the butter has been melted over medium-high heat. Cook the fish about 5 minutes per side, turning down the heat if the butter starts burning. The fish is ready as soon as the interior becomes opaque.

Place the cooked fish on warmed plates and pour the lemon juice into the hot pan. Stir into the butter and pour over the fish. Serve immediately with boiled potatoes and a green vegetable.

Serves 2

Adapted from Favourite New Forest Recipes.

Download and print

Never miss a post and get exclusive member content by signing up for The Past on a Plate's free weekly newsletter:


  1. I dont blame you, I would have had to have that book too! And the fish dish looks so yummy. I am not that brave about cooking fish. We just dont get the practice around here, do we?? I cant wait to hear more about the new house!!! :D

  2. We have loads of fresh trout from the nearby rivers, so I'm always looking for new ways to cook it up. This simple preparation sounds lovely! Hope you're settling into your new house well.

  3. Mitfords! I hadn't ever heard of them until I saw mention of Mary S. Lovell's book (The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family) on a blog. It was FASCINATING. All those sisters (poor brother doesn't get much attention) were such fierce, strong personalities -- a duchess, a Fascist, a Nazi, a Communist, a interesting.

  4. Enjoyed this post - the Mitford sisters are always interesting! Of course you couldn't resist the book... Your dinner plate looks wonderful!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.