Nicholas Mosley was a ‘brave, generous and loving presence’
Tributes to novelist at church close to Holloway Prison, where his fascist leader father was held
MOURNERS gathered in Holloway yesterday (Thursday) to say farewell to writer and novelist Nicholas Mosley, eldest son of 1930s British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley.
More than 200 relatives and friends packed St Luke’s Church, in Hillmarton Road, where the baronet, who died aged 93, had become a regular worshipper after moving to Hungerford Road, where he lived with his second wife, Verity Bailey, who survives him.
It is a stone’s throw from Holloway Prison, where his father and his second wife, Diana Mitford, were held in a house in the grounds following their wartime arrest in 1940.
A young Nicholas, who lost his mother, Lady Cynthia Curzon, at the age of 9, only learned of his father’s remarriage to Diana Mitford from newspaper headlines, one declaring that Hitler was best man at the wedding in the home of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
AN Wilson and Mr Mosley’s daughter Clare
While his life was haunted by being the son of a leading fascist, Nicholas was able to carry this burden, said the Rev Sir Timothy Forbes Adam, a lifelong friend from their days at primary school in Surrey, in his eulogy.
“Unlike the majority of humanity he could bear reality, it’s darker side – and there was much of that he had to bear in his life and endure and survive – but it was not insurmountable and did not destroy him or others,” Sir Timothy said.
They were contemporaries at Eton, a time which many found liberating but they experienced “like a prison”, spending many hours building dens in the surrounding countryside, he said.
“We learned that life was not a matter of rules and uniforms but about enjoying life in all sorts of ways, especially in laughter,” Sir Timothy added. “Nick was always drawn to adventure and child-like wonder.”
Developing friendships – with anti-apartheid activist the Rev Raymond Raynes and historian Sir Raymond Carr – was one of Nicholas’s great gifts, Sir Timothy said.
“While his parenting skills took a while to develop, he always spoke of his children with love,” he said. “A recent family photograph shows Nick smiling, surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in what was surely a triumph of Abrahamic dimensions.
Rev Dave Tomlinson with Rev Sir Timothy Forbes Adam
He added: “Nicholas was a rare, brave, generous, loving and inspiring presence.”
Writer AN Wilson hailed his friend’s great achievements in literature and his stretching of the boundaries of fiction. He described Nicholas as “the most wonderful talker”.
He recalled how he and Nicholas were on a nightbus full of revellers coming back from a night out in Soho when his friend suddenly recalled a debate he had with his stepmother Diana about Germanic mythology that inspired Wagner versus his own Christianity.
By the end of the journey, the revellers had fallen silent and were listening, while the pair had missed their stop.
Mr Wilson added: “Family was absolutely central to him. A writer’s life isn’t easy for families, but it became the central pre-occupation of his life after the war.”
A committed Christian throughout his life, Nicholas’s bravery won him a Military Cross as an officer in the Rifle Brigade fighting in Italy in World War II.
He confronted his father’s notoriety in his two-volume study of Sir Oswald, Rules of the Game and Beyond the Pale, books widely regarded as honest and insightful.
In recent years, he struck up a friendship with the Rev Dave Tomlinson, of St Luke’s, who led the service.
The vicar described him as “a man who never ceased from exploration”.
He is survived by Ms Bailey, their son, three children from a previous marriage, a stepson, 19 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.