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A Rose by Any Other Name....

2006-12-05 18:23:31.491213+00 by petronius 3 comments

Strange byways of history department: The Mitford family was an aristocratic British brood whose 6 daughters became social notables in the first half of the 20th century. Two became famous writers, two married nephews of Prime Ministers, one became a Communist, and two were genuine, card-carrying Nazis. The oddity is that a large part of the family fortune was based on a gold mine in the unfortunately-named town of Swastika, Ontario. Indeed, one of the girls, the resoundingly named Unity Valkyrie Mitford, was conceived there. There were attempts to rename the town Winston during WW2, but it never happened. There is still a Swastika Public School in the town, but I fear to learn what they call the football team.

[ related topics: History Sociology Writing ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-05 19:13:18.184544+00 by: Dan Lyke

I love that there's a whole class of people who are notable only because of what their last name is. And the description of Unity Valkyrie Mitford:

Shot herself in the head when World War II broke out, but failed to kill herself.

summed up the whole notion of "aristocratic British" for me.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-05 21:02:47.319706+00 by: Dan Lyke

So, after doing a few tweaks to get the wiki back up and working so I could flesh out the stuff around Winston[Wiki], I have to ask: How'd you find this, and did it have anything to do with that attempt to rename the town?

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-05 22:20:24.723115+00 by: petronius

I stumbled upon the story in Eugene Volokh's blog. There used to be a columnist in Chicago who did a weekly feature, "Things I learned while looking up something else." The Swastika story is a classic example. I knew that some fo the Mitford girls dabbled in Fascism, but I had no idea how operatic the whole story actually was.