The second Lord Redesdale, father of the Mitford sisters, had many larger-than-life qualities as related by his daughters. Not least of these was his intense reaction to dramatic literature.
According to Deborah Mitford the only book her father had ever read for pleasure was White Fang. She explained in an interview,
It was so good he didn’t want to read another, until my Mother thought it was really awful he didn’t know anything, this was when they were very first married so she chose Tess of the d’Urbervilles, so when he got to the sad bits my Father started to cry and my Mother said ‘don’t cry darling it’s only a story’ and my Father was furious and stood up and said ‘what, do you mean to say the damn fellow made it up?’
Lord Redesdale appears thinly disguised as “Uncle Matthew” in Nancy Mitford’s autobiographical novel The Pursuit of Love. She recounts the following anecdote:
Uncle Matthew went with Aunt Sadie and Linda on one occasion to a Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet. It was not a success. He cried copiously, and went into a furious rage because it ended badly. “All the fault of that damned padre,” he kept saying on the way home, still wiping his eyes. “That fella, what’s his name, Romeo, might have known a blasted papist would mess up the whole thing.”