Nancy Mitford

Maroula Joannou (Anglia Ruskin University)
Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error

Until the television adaptation of

Love in a Cold Climate

in February 2001 Nancy Mitford was best known for her ideas about ‘u’ (upper-class) and non-‘u’(non-upper-class) language derived from the work of the philologist, Alan Ross, and first publicised in her essay, “The English Aristocracy ”published by Stephen Spender in


in 1954. Mitford provided a glossary of terms used by the upper-classes (looking glass, bike and napkin are all ‘u’ and mirror, cycle and serviette are all non ‘u’) and her essay evoked a national debate about English class-consciousness and snobbery. The piece was reprinted with Ross’s article in book form under the title of

Noblesse Oblige: an Inquiry into the Identifiable Characteristics of the English Aristocracy

in 1956.

Nancy was

988 words

Citation: Joannou, Maroula. "Nancy Mitford". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 June 2002 [, accessed 30 May 2024.]

5020 Nancy Mitford 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.