Peter Y. Sussman, Editor of Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford, to give talk on Mitford at Oakland Main Library

Release Date: 
Tue, 09/27/2011

Political activist and celebrate muckraking author Jessica Mitford, known as "Decca" to her friends, will be the subject of a talk at the Oakland Main Library, 125 14th Street, on Thursday, October 27, at 6:30pm. The event, billed under the title Jessica Mitford: Oakland Housewife, will feature Peter Y. Sussman, who will read from his collection of Mitford's correspondence, Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford.

Those familiar with Mitford's work will recognize the irony in the event's title. Despite her accomplishments as a writer, Decca was routinely described in the news media as an "Oakland housewife." Indeed, Mitford spent a half century of her life in Oakland, where she and her husband, attorney Bob Treuhaft, played key roles in the city's labor and civil rights history.

Sussman's talk will focus on Mitford's political activism, including her involvement with the East Bay Civil Rights Congress (CRC) and the United Federal Workers union. He will also touch on the genesis of Mitford's seminal book, The American Way of Death, and read from her voluminous letters, which reflect the famous wit and irreverent humor she was celebrated for throughout her career. Copies of Sussman's book and other Mitford titles will be available for sale, followed by a booksigning.

Local author and journalist Peter Sussman spent most of his career as an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. His book, Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford, was widely acclaimed by admirers of Mitford, such as J.K Rowling, and critics alike. Michael Dirda of The Washington Post wrote: "If you don't know about Decca, as everyone called her, just start reading this terrifc collection of letters and hang on for the ride."

This event is being co-sponsored by the Oakland Public Library and the Friends of the Oakland Public Library (FOPL), and is being held in conjunction with the recent donation of books from Jessica Mitford and Robert Treuhaft's personal collection to the Friends' bookstore. These books will go on sale beginning November 2, 2011 at The Bookmark Bookstore, 721 Washington Street, in Old Oakland (www.thebookmarkbookstore.org).

For more information about the Sussman talk, please contact the Main Library's Oakland History Room at (510) 238-3222.