Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance



Deep In The Archives Of The Bodleian Library Lies A Tattered Scrap Of Paper With Newlyweds Scribbles On It It Is A Table, Listing The Qualities Of A Couple One Column Reads Often Says What He Does Not Think , He Does Not Show His Feelings , He Is A Genius The Other Never Says What She Does Not Think , She Shows Her Feelings , She Is A Dunce The Writing Is Mary Anne Disraeli S The Qualities Listed Contrast Her With Her Husband, Benjamin Disraeli, One Of The Foremost Politicians Of The Victorian AgeThe Daughter Of A Sailor, On Her Second Marriage And Years Older Than Her Husband, Mary Anne Was Highly Eccentric, Liable To Misbehave And Worse Still Overdressed For Grand Society Dinners Her Beloved Diz Was Of Jewish Descent, A Mid Ranking Novelist And Frequently Mired In Debt He Was Fiercely Protective And Completely Devoted To His Wife She Was Devoted To Him, Too, And They Were Both Devoted To The Very Idea Of Being Devoted They Wrote Passionate Letters To One Another Through Their Courtship And Their Marriage, Spinning Their Unusual Tale Into A Romance Worthy Of The Novels They So LovedReading Between The Lines Of A Great Cache Of Their Letters And The Anecdotes Of Others In Chilly Oxford Reading Rooms, Daisy Hay Shows How The Disraelis Rose To The Top Of The Social And Political Pile Along The Way, We Meet Women Of A Similar Station And Situation Whose Endings Were Far Unhappier Than Mary Anne S, Acting As A Counterpoint To Her Fairy Tale Ending As The Landed Angel Of The Prime Minister S HouseIn An Age Where First Ladies Are Under Ever Increasing Pressure To Perform And Conform, Mr And Mrs Disraeli Offers A Portrait Of One Who Refused To Do Either, In A Society Which Demanded She Do BothMr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance book, this is one of the most wanted Daisy Hay author readers around the world.

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  • ebook
  • 320 pages
  • Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance
  • Daisy Hay
  • English
  • 26 February 2018
  • 1473511070

10 thoughts on “Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance

  1. says:

    This review first appeared on my blog, Shoulda Coulda Woulda Books.This is not the first time that I ve read Daisy Hay, nor is it the first time I ve read about Disraeli Both of those experiences made me want to read , so this was a pretty fortunate confluence of book events for me very grateful that Hay s research lead her to this topic This book is a natural outgrowth of her previous work in Young Romantics In that book, Hay looked at the Byron Shelley generation and attempted to break This review first appeared on my blog, Shoulda Coulda Woulda Books.This is not the first time that I ve read Daisy Hay, nor is it the first time I ve read about Disraeli Both of those experiences made me want to read , so this was a pretty fortunate confluence of book events for me very grateful that Hay s research lead her to this topic This book is a natural outgrowth of her previous work in Young Romantics In that book, Hay looked at the Byron Shelley generation and attempted to break down the stereotype of the loner, the misunderstood Romantic genius flourishing in isolation in favor of emphasizing how none of these people would ever have become who they were without their repeated encounters with each other.So it is fitting that her next book continues to insist upon the importance of relationships and connections in the lives of Great Men This time, it is not Byron we focus on, but one of his most ardent disciples Benjamin Disraeli While many connections are covered, Mr and Mrs Disraeli specifically focuses on the connection that changed Disraeli s life that with his wife, Mary Anne In this book, Hay does not even have to make an argument that this connection is important it is proven and accepted by history No, here the task is much harder anddelicate to complicate and question the very popular Victorian love story of this couple, a story in which both participants, and eventually the wider public including the Queen were heavily invested Before he met Mary Anne, Benjamin Disraeli was a dreamer of a young man, the son of the writer Isaac D Israeli, and, honestly, a bit of a feckless waste of space for the first twenty four years of his life He had an unsurprisingly anti Semitic experience at school and never went to university He seemed to mostly prefer bumming around obsessing about Byron much of the time and writing occasionally He eventually tried his hand at writing popular silver fork novels read chick lit aspirational fantasy of the 1830s and got laughed out of town on his first attempt literally out of the country, actually he fled to Europe to do a Byronic Grand Tour to escape his humiliation He had some successive novels that did moderately well when his ego recovered a few years later, and his assumption of leadership of the Young England group of writers made his reputation grow a bit these writers were, as far as I can make out, sort of vaguely for reform, but mostly about the importance of giving people heroes and arguing that writers would make amazing statesmen However, his attempts to parley this into political success were similarly at first unsuccessful By his mid thirties he was also deeply in debt to the tune of thousands of pounds and perhaps about to be thrown into jail by his creditors that this didn t happen is only thanks to his first electoral win, in which Parliamentary privilege prevented him from being prosecuted Which is how he met Mary Anne.When she met Disraeli, Mary Anne was Mary Anne Lewis, a poor sailor s daughter who had had had the good fortune to become the wife of Wyndham Lewis, a wealthy businessman and eventual Conservative MP Mary Anne was a popular figure, who, in lieu of the children she never had, devoted much of her life to hostessing, socializing, and political campaigning Her popularity and tireless work was undeniably a large factor in getting her seemingly rather taciturn and unimpressive husband elected in his career in Parliament, Lewis rose to speak only eight times She also had a long career as a flirt behind her, with many cisibeos and hopeful lovers still clustering around her, even in her mid forties Mary Anne loved to be adored, and at times walked the line of reputation ruining gossip to get what she wanted Disraeli entered the picture when Lewis district became so strongly Conservative that the party wanted to put up a second candidate Disraeli had been on the short list of go to possible candidates for years, despite his losses, and this time Lewis could put up the money to support him getting the votes he needed Mary Anne campaigned for both him and her husband, and they grew close during that time As it happened, Wyndham Lewis died not long after this, leaving his very wealthy widow and unusually independently so, by the way for the taking, and Disraeli as her husband s best placed successor.As Hay points out, it would be easy to tell the cynical story that must be positively leaping into your mind right now Disraeli swooped in on the much older wealthy widow and lied his bad poem writing pants off to get her money, and Mary Anne jumped at maybe her last chance to be a pretty princess at a vulnerable moment in her life with a rising star in politics And that s exactly what some snotty people in Disraeli s most successful years did think and sometimes actually had the balls to say when they met his wife, who many of them at first considered vulgar, overdressed, frivolous, and not smart enough for Disraeli But you know what s incredible Nobody did think that by the end Absolutely nobody at all In fact, the Disraelis became celebrated for their marriage, and the Disraeli s great love story was a huge part of their popular appeal Over the course of their twenty five years of marriage, their family, their friends, Disraeli s colleagues and the public came to know their relationship as a true, chivalrous, old fashioned romance, thoroughly devoted, a true partnership And you know who believed in it the most, after all, in the end Mary Anne and Dizzy themselves Which is, considering everything, the most remarkable part of the whole thing.This is Hay s real interest discussing how this couple created a fictional fairy tale for themselves that they both came to believe The Disraelis spun a romance out of some very unromantic circumstances And then they made it happen Just because they said so.It was fascinating From the beginning of their courtship, you can see the importance of stories to them and especially their sensitivity to the character part they have been cast in Both of them insist upon ideals, dreams, to be heroes and heroines And that s how they spoke to each other in poetry and jealousy and longing But even in spite of these instincts, the cynical story underlying it all tested them early on Their marriage almost failed before it started Disraeli really did urgently need her money to stave off his creditors and tried to rush her into marriage less than a year after her husband died with ardor being the excuse, of course, and pushed too hard and too obviously though he barely acknowledged these reasons to himself Mary Anne didn t want to be rushed into remarriage, and was kind of enjoying the attention old admirers were giving her as a wealthy widow She didn t want the gossip around them to even seem to be true even though she was sleeping with him by this point she would have been fine with just doing that for awhile The story almost fell apart due to its actors not playing their roles very well But ultimately, when she confronted him with his possible definite fortune hunting openly, she caused a huge dramatic storming out of the house fight Disraeli pushed back wildly, indignantly and at length Mary Anne had stepped outside the romantic narrative and he would not stand for it For the only time, he addressed his less than noble motives openly, basically saying that yeah, he initially was interested in her money, but it wasn t as much as he thought in the first place, and he still loved and adored her, SO THERE He was ready to give her up rather than be the gold digger in the marriage, no matter how desperate he was Now for your fortune I write the sheer truth That fortune proved to be much less than I, or the world, imagined It was, in fact, as far as I was concerned, a fortune which could not benefit me to the slightest degree, merely a jointureWas this an inducement for me to sacrifice my sweet liberty, and that indefinite future, which is one of the charms of existence No when months ago I told you one day, that there was only one link between us, I felt that my heart was inextricably engaged to you, and but for that I would have terminated our acquaintance From that moment I devoted to you all the passion of my beingdramatic declarations of parting follow, I need hardly tell you He wanted to be thought the ideal lover or nothing Mary Anne decided she d rather have the white knight too, no matter what the reality was And there it was, the deal that lasted a lifetime From that point on, neither of them backed away from that story, no matter what came up This story lasted through Disraeli s continual lies about debts and even when Mary Anne discovered them , through prolonged physical separation and Disraeli s rise in prominence and power It lasted through Mary Anne s aging much earlier than he did, through his deep and sometimes even stronger confiding relationship with his sister, through her occasional failures to impress where he would have liked her to, through his years of opposition, through possible affairs with handsome young men and through family troubles on both sides.Sometimes this fiction was best maintained at a distance Sometimes they spent many silent evenings in different parts of the house so as not to break the story Sometimes it threatened to become a necessary fiction rather than voluntary one, since Disraeli had long since turned the story of their devoted marriage into one of his greatest public assets much like the Queen and Albert did, and much as many, many politicians would do after his example, as Hay points out But the farthest Disraeli would go towards admitting imperfections would be to write coded messages in his yearly birthday poems to her, hoping for reconciliation, or in the absence of any poetry to her at all which, considering the quality of some of it, some of us may think was actually a real sign of love And he never broke loyalty to her publicly, not once in nearly thirty years And in the end, it seemed, after twenty years, it was real They got old, and the last five years of their marriage was everything they pretended it was for years before that, everything Mary Anne had ever wanted and only sometimes got from him, everything Disraeli wanted to be and only sometimes had the focus and time to follow through on When offered a peerage during these years, Disraeli asked that it go to his wife instead, so she proudly became Viscountess Beaconsfield, able to look down her nose at her detractors at last At this time, Disraeli would write her just because he missed her Once, when they were both ill, they wrote back and forth to each other in their sickbeds on separate floors because they were too ill to be moved Disraeli, by the way, had become ill after sitting up at her bedside for many days And his last note to her, in the midst of her final illness, is quietly moving in its revelation of how truly he had become attached to her My dearest darling, I have nothing to tell you, except that I love you, which I fear that you will think rather dullNatty was very affectionate about you and wanted me to come home and dine with him quite alone but I told him that you were the only person now whom I could dine with and only relinquished you tonight for my country My country, I fear, will be very late but I hope to find you in a sweet sleep.Your own, D.Despite everything ranged against her, her age, her class, her personality, her preferences, her money, Mary Anne made herself beloved, both of Disraeli and the country In one of her last final illnesses, there were bulletins in the newspapers reporting on the state of her health and vigils outside her front door, like scenes out of Evita The Queen had come to admire her almost in spite of herself, and the country went into virtual national mourning when she eventually did die in 1872 But Disraeli refused a grand funeral, refused display and attention For one of the few times in his life, and also one of the few times people would have preferred he hadn t, he deliberately chose obscurity something he chose again when he himself died He could have been buried in Westminster with a public funeral and celebrity, and he chose a quiet grave in the country next to Mary Anne As you can probably tell, I loved this It touched me Despite Hay revealing the cracks in this marriage no, actually because of that, I found it very compelling Ultimately, and much less dramatically, this is as revealing a portrait of marriage as Madame Bovary was for me, perhaps evenso in its way Lucidly, Hay shows how most marriages are stories that the participants choose to believe in, no matter what evidence is arrayed against them They are idealistic stories that are never, never what they seem or what the participants want them to be at least not forthan fleeting moments, just enough to keep the dream alive Marriages end when people opt out of these stories, don t live up to their end of the tale, or want a different story in the end after all and don t agree on what that is But if both people choose to believe hard enough, if both people keep choosing to try to be the people they agreed they would be and act up to it enough times well, that may truly be the last utopia Disraeli s grandfather seems to have been the last practicing Jewish member of the family his father broke with the synagogue over an argument and had Benjamin baptised as an Anglican at the age of 13 which is lucky since Jews were prevented from holding public office until the mid 1850s Disraeli s career would not have been possible without this happening There s a fascinating little story later in the book about how Louis Rothschild was elected to the House of Commons around that time and then provoked a crisis by refusing to swear his oath on the New Testament, which then caused the reform to be passed Something he was bitter about for the rest of his life mostly because of the lost potential connections and status implications it certainly didn t help that his younger brothers were sent to upper class schools where they learned all the class mannerisms that Disraeli had to try desperately to figure out from the outside it gives his idolization of Byron a whole other spin when you think about it in terms of class, actually Oh man, the stories about how much money it cost to bribe people to vote for you were pretty incredible, actually It makes being in Parliament sound like the sort of expensive status symbol that, I dunno, Apple Watches and Ferraris are now Sort of your sign you could afford to flush enormous amounts of money down the drain and still keep your wife in diamonds, you know Is there ahumanizing, bring you down to earth nickname that a Great Man could have than Dizzy I submit to you there is not Never proven, but there are some racy letters that make me believe something was going down at least on Disraeli s side, even if it wasn t physical Hay reminds us that dudes were muchcomfortable expressing love for each other at this time, and Platonic friendships were a thing in this Greek and Roman worshiping age, but man, even so I put money on some unexplored same sex attraction that or its the most desperate need to be looked up to as an authoritative daddy figure I ve ever seen He was famous for it There s several stories about it, but the one I remember is about how the Countess of Derby was rude to Mary Anne at a dinner party at her home, after Disraeli had been angling for an invite to that house for years Mary Anne was hurt, and Disraeli politely, but firmly, refused to ever set foot in that house again, no matter how useful it would have been to him politically This struck me because Disraeli was all about power and advancement and getting into the highest circles, and he was willing to give up one of his first breaks in that wall for her Even though after she died, he became attached to another woman a few years later and contemplated marrying again her sister, she was already married to be near her He was also famous for his courtly relationship with the Queen she knew he was buttering her up, and ate it up Another woman who chose to believe in the best of Disraeli Despite all of this, he still chose Mary Anne in the end As he always, always did

  2. says:

    This is an oddly moving biography, which looks at the marriage of Benjamin Disraeli and his wife Mary Anne Both Disraeli and Mary Anne had a tendency to romanticise and reinvent their backgrounds and, later, their marriage Mary Anne came from a fairly humble background and her marriage in 1815 to Wyndham Lewis, a wealthy man, but much older than her and very different in temperament, was largely due to financial and social considerations Indeed, stories at the beginning of each chapter ofte This is an oddly moving biography, which looks at the marriage of Benjamin Disraeli and his wife Mary Anne Both Disraeli and Mary Anne had a tendency to romanticise and reinvent their backgrounds and, later, their marriage Mary Anne came from a fairly humble background and her marriage in 1815 to Wyndham Lewis, a wealthy man, but much older than her and very different in temperament, was largely due to financial and social considerations Indeed, stories at the beginning of each chapter often from newspapers of the time show how reliant women were on marriage for financial security and status At one point in the book, Mary Anne shows a certain reluctance to see some unmarried sisters that she was friends with, because of their increasing desperation to find husbands, which made their visits uncomfortable for her and her guests This also becomes relevant when we come to Disraeli s life story and his beloved sister, Sarah, who remained unmarried At times, he is torn between his sister and his wife, who becomes jealous of the attention he pays her When Disraeli meets Mary Anne she is the wife of Wyndham Lewis and he is an MP His career brings him to London, but, sadly for his wife, it did not bring her the social acceptance and widening social circle she hoped for Her first husband s political career was to be as unremarkable as her second husband s was to be remarkable Meanwhile, Disraeli, increasingly in debt, had begun writing novels which appealed very much to Mary Anne in fact, she was just the readership he was aiming for with his silver fork novels Gradually, he begins to appear on her guest lists and she figures in his correspondence We also read of Disraeli s fledgling political career, linked to that of Wyndham Lewis, which, after Lewis s death, brings him closer to Mary Anne.When Mary Anne became widowed, she was forty seven and Disraeli was a thirty five year old dandy, mired in debt and not the only man intent on winning her fortune For, it is apparent that Mary Anne s wealth was very attractive not only to Disraeli, but to others Later, she was to admit openly that he married her for money, but there wasto their relationship than that They reinvented their marriage of convenience as a grand romance, but, despite their age difference, it certainly was a happy union Through letters and correspondence, the author uncovers their courtship the way Mary Anne felt initially pushed by him, his joy and relief when he realises he has won her, the shifting dynamics between them, and their family relationships.In a way, this is a portrait not only of a marriage, but also of the society of the time and of the importance of marriage for women within that society Disraeli s rise to political power emerges, Mary Anne takes obvious delight in his achievements and we see the way the political landscape changed Despite political success, their marriage was mocked and Mary Anne often referred to as absurd, while Disraeli faced anti Semitism and career disappointments Yet, despite all the difficulties they faced, ultimately their marriage was a success Although Disraeli s possible relationships with other men are explored, he certainly appreciated her support, her interest in his career, her friendship and her love When she died, he was bereft, and Mary Anne had the delight, in her lifetime, of being recognised, and loved, by the public and also by her husband This is a wonderful read and a very interesting portrait of a couple who, although they were not seen as an ideal match, made their marriage a resounding success for both of them

  3. says:

    Marriage had its peculiarities in the nineteenth century, but the marriage of Benjamin Disraeli and his Mary Anne waspeculiar than most Nevertheless, this account of their marriage goes beyond simple boundaries Before they wed in their middle age, both had a great deal of experience Mary Anne was first married to a certain Wyndham Lewis, a man who benefitted greatly from the Industrial Revolution, and the opening of the book tells of their lives on the edge of high society, uncomfortabl Marriage had its peculiarities in the nineteenth century, but the marriage of Benjamin Disraeli and his Mary Anne waspeculiar than most Nevertheless, this account of their marriage goes beyond simple boundaries Before they wed in their middle age, both had a great deal of experience Mary Anne was first married to a certain Wyndham Lewis, a man who benefitted greatly from the Industrial Revolution, and the opening of the book tells of their lives on the edge of high society, uncomfortably located between that semi mythical state of wealth and power and thestaid world of the middle classes.They inhabited a London residence called Grosvenor Gate, builtfor display than for comfort, and its description is an early triumph in Daisy Hay s brilliant book about lives lived in ambiguity The dining room and the library, for example, are denominated male spaces while the rest of the large building is the domain of the female Even in marriage at least in this social class there isdivision than closeness in the relationship of the genders.Dizzy himself spent those pre marital years as a writer a curious social anomaly in all ages His closest friend was another novelist, Edward Lytton Bulwer, now known as Bulwer Lytton, but only from the death of his parents Disraeli s ambitions were high and his sense of material entitlement much greater than what could be supported by writing novels, so that in bachelor life and even later his debts grew to be enormous.Marriage to a wealthy heiress, the widow of an industrialist, was one way out of his dilemma and a place in Parliament was another It is extraordinary to follow his political career from this point of view if his party gets into government he will be saved from financial disaster and social disgrace, without the need to go into exile A precarious living Marriage was essential, but love was not, and yet while both participants were taking advantage of each other, there was a genuine sympathy between them as well They understood each other s sometimes sordid needs.Daisy Hay gives a good account of the novels Disraeli wrote even during a busy political life and of thehumble position of wealthy Mary Anne, but the greatest interest in the book is the stressed and strained life of the couple as such Without underestimating the individuals, she places the marriage in the foreground She adds depth to this by sketching extraordinary other but relevant marriages at the beginning of each chapter Those who think of Victorian society as puritanical and dull will be astonished at the sexual shenanigans described here The marriage of Sir Edward Bulwer and his wife Rosina is a dramatic and painful story in itself When Rosina disrupted her husband s political meetings his face paled and the press had a wonderful time.Daisy Hay has a lively and entertaining style without overdramatising what is already a dramatic story, so that the book is a pleasure from beginning to end Although the persons she writes of can seem disgraceful, in her telling they have a peculiar grace of their own

  4. says:

    So I have a funny story regarding this book.I first came across Disraeli during A Levels, in which I studied the Age of Gladstone and Disraeli Disraeli became my favourite Prime Minister Because who couldn t love Disraeli So, the first thing I do when I m in a bookshop is look at the political history section, just to check up on the literature regarding Disraeli and other Prime Ministers of the time I was in Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus in London in February 2015 when I first saw th So I have a funny story regarding this book.I first came across Disraeli during A Levels, in which I studied the Age of Gladstone and Disraeli Disraeli became my favourite Prime Minister Because who couldn t love Disraeli So, the first thing I do when I m in a bookshop is look at the political history section, just to check up on the literature regarding Disraeli and other Prime Ministers of the time I was in Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus in London in February 2015 when I first saw this book and I turned to my friend and said, I really want it And she responded, but you have no money And that was that Story isn t finished yet though, sorry In all the books I ve read about Disraeli, his wife is rarely mentioned, and I really felt for her, because in the historical literature, she s always come across as important to Disraeli, but not important enough to hold part of the narrative herself, much like most women in history, I suppose So I saved and bought it Of course, I had to It was a book on Disraeli and Mary Anne and my book buyers brain was niggling at me to buy it I was going to a book festival that year and as it was a new release that year, it was a featured book, with a talk given by the author I was absolutely desperate to go I took this novel on holiday with me to Ireland Gladstone or Salisbury probably would have been better received though and I read it and I got so invested in this novel that I felt sad nearing the end because, surprise surprise, Mary Anne and Disraeli die As people tend to do at the end of historical biographies And I finished the book the night before the talk at the festival I had so many questions I wanted to ask and so many thoughts running through my head and then I met the author, and it was like I d been struck mute I couldn t even say hello My friend had to speak for me And now I m pretty sure that the author thought that I was a stupid person who didn t know who the subject matter was and bought the book because it looked pretty The book does look pretty though, I will admit It s beautiful.This is possibly one of my favourite biographies of Disraeli Probably because it deals with Mary Anne as well, comparing her to other women of the time period and how the other women because footnotes in history Unlike a lot of other historians, Hay focused on how neither of the Disraeli s should have been able to reach the social and political position they did, but still managed to make it This book doesn t overtake other biographies written regarding Disraeli, but it is a pretty good biography of Mary Anne, and it treats her life and relationships with dignity and care, especially her first husband Hay takes into account the effect Mary Anne s first husband had on Disraeli s career, which isn t a regularly recognized detail So yes, this book is amazing

  5. says:

    It wasn t until the final chapter that I realised how emotionally involved I had become with the people and the narrative it isn t until we experience loss that we realise the true extent of love, and it appears this was certainly the case for Disraeli This biography deserves to be celebrated for finally shining a light on the woman behind the man, so often ignored or reduced to a mere footnote in the tale of her brilliant husband It demonstrates how behind all human achievement there is love It wasn t until the final chapter that I realised how emotionally involved I had become with the people and the narrative it isn t until we experience loss that we realise the true extent of love, and it appears this was certainly the case for Disraeli This biography deserves to be celebrated for finally shining a light on the woman behind the man, so often ignored or reduced to a mere footnote in the tale of her brilliant husband It demonstrates how behind all human achievement there is love and support, and how the course of love does not run smooth, but the benefit of such intimate emotion and experience binds us together

  6. says:

    An astoundingly brilliant biography charting the relationship between one of this nation s greatest Prime Ministers, Benjamin Disraeli, and his wife Mary Ann Daisy Hay really has done a fantastic job Couldnt put it down The woman really doth maketh the man.

  7. says:

    It s always fascinating to consider what makes for a long lasting and successful marriage relationship and Daisy Hay s thorough analysis of the unlikely marriage between Mary Anne and Benjamin Disraeli provides a very intriguing example What is at first a marriage of convenience between a heavily indebted dandyish Disraeli and a rich widow 12 years his senior becomes a close, loving, lifelong attachment But this is not only a portrait of a famous marriage, it also foregrounds yet another impor It s always fascinating to consider what makes for a long lasting and successful marriage relationship and Daisy Hay s thorough analysis of the unlikely marriage between Mary Anne and Benjamin Disraeli provides a very intriguing example What is at first a marriage of convenience between a heavily indebted dandyish Disraeli and a rich widow 12 years his senior becomes a close, loving, lifelong attachment But this is not only a portrait of a famous marriage, it also foregrounds yet another important woman who had been overshadowed by her husband While Daisy Hay has to cover Disraeli s political and writing career, she makes sure that Mary Anne stays sharply in focus throughout, especially when that ground has been so thoroughly covered by the numerous Disraeli biographers.It is also fascinating to see how, in such a supposedly rigid class based society, this couple from the wrong social backgrounds could still rise to the top

  8. says:

    The marriage of Mary Ann and Benjamin Disraeli was uncommon in many respects She was an wealthy independent widow, he a debt ridden author with political ambitions She was loud, flamboyant, outspoken, eccentric he was controlled, ambitious, determined He married her for her money but grew to love her She valued her independence yet devoted herself utterly to his future career They were visibly devoted to one another in an era when marrying for love was seen as utterly d class in the circl The marriage of Mary Ann and Benjamin Disraeli was uncommon in many respects She was an wealthy independent widow, he a debt ridden author with political ambitions She was loud, flamboyant, outspoken, eccentric he was controlled, ambitious, determined He married her for her money but grew to love her She valued her independence yet devoted herself utterly to his future career They were visibly devoted to one another in an era when marrying for love was seen as utterly d class in the circles they moved in Neither was of the Establishment Mary Ann was born of distinctly middling stock and Disraeli s antecedents were Jewish, at a time when Jews could not hold political office.And yet by the time of their deaths they were both beloved and respected by the public, the Queen and the political establishment, and neither could have achieved their positions in politics and society without the love and support of the other Where Disraeli was unusual amongst his fellows was in his open acknowledgement of that fact, perhaps best exemplified by his request to Queen Victoria to ennoble his wife in her own right instead of him It is only right therefore that this should be a dual biography to tell Disraeli s story without giving his wife her rightful due would be a distortion of history.History is fortunate indeed that both Disraelis were great collectors of personal papers, and Daisy Hay s book relies heavily on chronicling the Disraelis lives through their own words, which brings a realism and intimacy to these pages One finds oneself growing quite fond of both of them It also means there is so much less interpretation and extrapolation than one usually finds in biographies there is no need for the X must have thought or Y must have felt because we know what Mary Ann thought or Disraeli felt, through the rich source of their letters.This is the second of Daisy Hay s books I have read, after her Young Romantics about Shelley and Byron and Mary Shelley, and I enjoyed it every bit as much She is a fine writer and a fine historian

  9. says:

    This well crafted and readable narrative is the biography of a relationship, grounded in the history and culture of 19th century Britain With sympathy for the main actors Benjamin and Mary Anne Disraeli but without sentiment, the book looks at their mutually beneficial, yet self serving, arrangement He got her financial support, she got dignity and stature of his public achievement, and the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, with the two developing a perhaps unexpectedly deep r This well crafted and readable narrative is the biography of a relationship, grounded in the history and culture of 19th century Britain With sympathy for the main actors Benjamin and Mary Anne Disraeli but without sentiment, the book looks at their mutually beneficial, yet self serving, arrangement He got her financial support, she got dignity and stature of his public achievement, and the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, with the two developing a perhaps unexpectedly deep regard for each other The author deftly interweaves anecdotes of other women s lives, illustrating their financially provisional existence The author also exposes Disraeli s multiple motivations His early desperate efforts to win public office were motivated in part by the insulation from arrest for debt enjoyed by MPs

  10. says:

    How many nonfiction books detail the history of a marriage Mr and Mrs Disraeli takes into account the beginning he married for money, she for social advancement , middle she was his stalwart supporter through thick and thin, he would not allow people to disrespect her no matter how foolish she was and end she lived to see him become prime minister, he repaid all of her steadfastness with deferring his bestowal of a title from the queen to her I was disappointed at first that there was not How many nonfiction books detail the history of a marriage Mr and Mrs Disraeli takes into account the beginning he married for money, she for social advancement , middle she was his stalwart supporter through thick and thin, he would not allow people to disrespect her no matter how foolish she was and end she lived to see him become prime minister, he repaid all of her steadfastness with deferring his bestowal of a title from the queen to her I was disappointed at first that there was notpolitical history in the book which would explain the significance of Disraeli but Daisy Hay set out to explain a Victorian marriage, its evolution, in contrast to many other examples besides

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