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.
Adam Gopnik has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1987, writing often on French life and literature. His many books include Paris to the Moon, an anthropology of modern French manners, and The Table Comes First, an essay on the philosophy of eating. He has also written introductions to new editions of works by authors such as Balzac, Alain-Fournier, Hugo, and Maupassant. In 2012, Gopnik was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France.