Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance

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9780099597445: Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance
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When Mary Anne Lewis met Benjamin Disraeli, she was married to Wyndham Lewis, a rich, mildly successful politician at the center of nineteenth-century British high society. The three became friends and with his deep pockets Wyndham helped Disraeli--young, ambitious, and swimming in debt--get his start in the political arena. Mary Anne even referred to him as her "Parliamentary protégé." But when Wyndham suddenly died of a heart attack, Mary Anne's friendship with Disraeli (fifteen years her junior) soon evolved into a peculiarly romantic and undoubtedly advantageous marriage: Mary Anne avoided life as a widow, while Benjamin used her financial means to stay out of prison and make a run for office.

Anecdotally the Disraelis cultivated an outrageous reputation. Once asked if he had read any new novels, Benjamin reportedly replied, "When I want to read a novel, I write one." Mary Anne, on the other hand, supposedly once told Queen Victoria that she always slept with her arms around her husband's neck. "My wife is a very clever woman," Benjamin said, "but she can never remember who came first, the Greeks or the Romans."

An unusual story of Victorian romance and politics, Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli moves beyond the anecdotes to reveal the interior life of one of Britain's most influential couples. Often eclipsed by Benjamin, Mary Anne had at least as much political acumen as her husband, and this dual biography shows that she was frequently his voice of reason. In the wake of British Romanticism, Daisy Hay examines the paths available to women like Mary Anne, and chronicles a relationship that is surprising, unconventional, and deeply inspiring.

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About the Author:

Daisy Hay is the author of Young Romantics: The Tangled Lives of English Poetry's Greatest Generation, for which she was awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy. She has a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Cambridge and an M.A. in Romantic and sentimental literature from the University of York. From 2012 to 2013 she was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and she is currently a lecturer in English literature and archival studies at the University of Exeter. She lives in Devon, England.

Review:

“[A] remarkable book . . . Hay's thoughtful and measured prose, filled with quotations from letters, missives, and love poems, is a page-turner of a historical, political, and feminist romance. A superlative achievement.” ―Eloise Kinney, Booklist (starred review)

“Through strong scholarship and deft storytelling . . . Hays's vivid account offers an empathetic, modern understanding of a passionate, seemingly mismatched couple.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Hay provides insight into the marriage of convenience that became a love story to rival Victoria and Albert's . . . With this new addition to Disraeli-ana, readers will be enlightened by the younger man and how alike he was to Mary Anne, who became the love of his life.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“A vivid portrait of a marriage . . . a tour de force, written with intelligence and compassion.” ―Paula Byrne, The Times

“A warm and rounded portrait.” ―Tim Bouverie, The Daily Telegraph

“A beguiling account of a very unusual marriage. . . [Hay goes] beyond the conventional chronological narrative to discover the roads not taken, the unspoken realities beneath the factual skeleton. . .Hay brings alive a marriage that has always been a puzzle to Disraeli's conventional biographers with skill and imagination.” ―The Sunday Times

“All marriages have their mysteries, political marriages more than most. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli was stranger than fiction, but every bit as compelling.” ―Robert McCrum, The Observer

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780701189129: Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance

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ISBN 10:  0701189126 ISBN 13:  9780701189129
Publisher: Chatto & Windus, 2015
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9780374270636: Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli: A Strange Romance

Farrar..., 2015
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9780374536008: Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli: A Strange Romance

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