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The Impossible Life of Mary Benson
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Young Minnie Sidgwick was just twelve years old when her cousin, twenty-three-year old Edward Benson, proposed to her in 1853. Edward went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury and little Minnie - as Mary Benson - to preside a social world that ranged from Tennyson, Henry James and Oscar Wilde to foreign royalty and Queen Victoria herself. Yet Mrs Benson's most intense relationships were not with her husband and his associates, but with other women. When the Archbishop died, Mary - 'Ben' to her intimates - turned down an offer from the Queen to live at Windsor, and set up home in a Jacobean manor house with her friend Lucy Tait. As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil, is the sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious, story of one lovable, brilliant woman and her trajectory through the often surprising opportunities and the remarkable limitations of a Victorian woman's life.
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The remarkable true story of the life of Mary Benson: wife of an archbishop, friend of Queen Victoria, mother of three 'unpermissably gifted' children - including E. F. Benson - and in love with dozens of women... 'Utterly absorbing... devilishly good.' Alexandra Harris, Guardian

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About the Author

Rodney Bolt was born in South Africa. He studied at Rhodes University and wrote the play Gandhi: Act Too, which won the 1980 Durban Critic's Circle Play of the Year award. That same year he won a scholarship to Cambridge and read English at Corpus Christi. He has twice won twice won Travel Writer of the Year awards in Germany and is the author of History Play, an invented biography of Christopher Marlowe and The Librettist of Venice, a biography of Lorenzo Da Ponte, which was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He lives in Amsterdam.

Reviews

'Utterly absorbing... devilishly good.' Alexandra Harris, Guardian 'One of the most riveting biographies you'll read all year.' Scotsman 'Impossible to resist' Sunday Telegraph 'Very hard to put down' Spectator 'Effervescent' Independent on Sunday 'Unusual and fascinating' Literary Review

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