By Simon Goldhill
So starts off A Very Queer kin Indeed, which introduces us to the intense Benson family members. Edward White Benson grew to become Archbishop of Canterbury on the top of Queen Victoria’s reign, whereas his spouse, Mary, used to be well known for her wit and charm—the major minister as soon as puzzled no matter if she was once “the cleverest girl in England or in Europe.” The couple’s six precocious young children incorporated E. F. Benson, celebrated writer of the Mapp and Lucia novels, and Margaret Benson, the 1st released lady Egyptologist.
What pursuits Simon Goldhill so much, notwithstanding, is what went on backstage, which was once much more strange than an individual might think. Inveterate writers, the Benson family members spun out novels, essays, and hundreds of thousands of letters that open lovely new perspectives—including what it might probably suggest for an grownup to kiss and suggest marriage to a twelve-year-old lady, how faith in a kin might aid or ruin relationships, or how the loss of life of a kid may be celebrated. No different relatives has left such distinctive documents approximately their such a lot intimate moments, and in those impressive debts, we see how kin existence and a family’s figuring out of itself took form in the course of a time while psychoanalysis, clinical and historic demanding situations to faith, and new methods of puzzling over society have been constructing. this can be the tale of the Bensons, however it can be greater than that—it is the tale of ways society transitioned from the excessive Victorian interval into modernity.
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A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion, and the Bensons in Victorian Britain by Simon Goldhill