British fascist leader Oswald Mosley’s affairs with his first wife’s ‘Downton Abbey’ sisters and her stepmother are revealed in 1981 letter by his second spouse, Diana Mitford
- Diana Mitford feared husband’s seedy past would lose him his fascist following
- Mosley’s son and biographer, Nicholas, found out about affairs during a party
- A man approached him and said he ‘took his hat off’ to Mosley’s seductions
- Details emerged in Mitford letters donated to the National Library of Scotland
Fascist leader Oswald Mosley cheated on his first wife with both of her sisters as well as her step-mother, previously unpublished letters reveal.
The letters, penned by his second wife Diana Mitford also reveal her fears that that his philandering ways would cost him his far-right following.
In the notes, which have been donated to the National Library of Scotland, Mitford appears to confirm that Mosley had been unfaithful to wife Lady Cynthia Curzon, who he married in 1920, with her sisters Irene and Alexandra, and with her step-mother, Grace.
Cynthia and her sisters are thought to be the inspiration behind the Grantham daughters in hit series Downton Abbey, with the character of their mother, Cora, based on Mary Curzon, an American department-store heiress.
Mosley (pictured with Lady Cynthia Curzon) was accused of marrying her for the money and to advance through the ranks of the Conservative Party
Chicago-born Lady Mary Curzon died aged just 36 at home in Carlton House Terrace, Westminster, in 1906.
She had been unable to bear the son and heir her husband desired and suffered complications following fertility-related surgery English medical experts could not heal.
Diana Mitford (pictured with Sir Oswald) feared his seedy past would alienate his following
Lord Curzon erected a memorial chapel in her honour at Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire following her death.
Following her affair with Mosley, Irene Curzon would go on to become one of the first four Life Peeresses in the House of Lords in 1958.
Alexandra was the first love of Prince George, Duke of Kent, and was nicknamed Baba Blackshirt due to her involvement with Mosley.
She died aged 91 at St John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in 1995 after more than 40 years’ work with the Save the Children Fund, of which she was elected vice-president in 1974.
Mosley’s 1920 marriage to Lady Cynthia was seen as a cynical push for social advancement by her father. Branded a gold-digger, the ambitious Conservative MP then had affairs with her family members, The Sunday Times reports.
Correspondence donated to the National Library of Scotland appear to confirm extra-marital relationships with Cynthia’s step-mother, Grace. They also seem to establish that he cheated on sisters Irene and Alexandria.
Lady Cynthia died of peritonitis, an inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdomen, in 1933, the year Hitler became chancellor of Germany.
A letter from Mitford to Scottish peer Lord Boothby in 1981 referred to the affairs that plagued Mosley’s first marriage.
She refers to her step-son, Nicholas, recalling his plans to write a book about his father.
‘When Nicky was young,’ she writes, ‘somebody at a party said to him: “I take my hat off to your father. Not many men have seduced both their sister-in-law and their mother-in-law”.’
Mitford says Nicholas was ‘not impressed’ with the remark, then remembers how she feared that inclusion of the anecdote in his book would alienate the fascist following.
She also branded his biography ‘vile beyond words’ after the book charting his political career emerged.
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Oswald Mosley (pictured with his Blackshirts in East London) served both the Conservative and Labour parties before founding his fascist movement
Mosley served as a Tory and Labour MP before he founded the British Union of Fascists.
His movement had about 50,000 followers at its height and George Orwell once wrote that he doubted Mosley and his ilk ‘would ever be more than a joke to the majority of English’.
Mosley married Mitford in 1936, with Adolf Hitler as their guest of honour. They held the ceremony at the home of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
Mosley died in 1980, with his widow dying in Paris at the age of 93 in 2003 having never renounced her fascism.
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