ISBN 10: 0374270635 / ISBN 13: 9780374270636
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Inhaltsangabe: The first biography to give Mary Anne Lewis her due and to examine her singular marriage to Benjamin Disraeli

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.

Inhaltsangabe:

Deep in the archives of the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford 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"; and the other: "Never says anything she does not think," "She shows her feelings," "She is a Dunce." The writing is Mary Anne Disraeli's, contrasting her own qualities with those of her husband, Benjamin Disraeli, one of the foremost politicians of the Victorian age.

From the outset they made an unlikely couple. Mary Anne was the daughter of a sailor, twelve years Disraeli's senior, and married to someone else when they met. She was also highly eccentric, liable to misbehave, and (worse still) embarrassingly overdressed for grand society dinners. Her Diz was of Jewish descent, a mid-ranking novelist who was mired in debt. They made perfect targets for the vicious Victorian press and society gossips, who pounced on any and every foible. Yet their odd match appeared to make them impervious to such slings and arrows, as together they spun their unusual tale into a romance worthy of the novels they so loved.

Reading between the lines of a great cache of their letters and friends' anecdotes, 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 status as the landed angel in the prime minister's house.

In an age where first ladies and their husbands are under ever-increasing pressure to perform and to conform,Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli offers a portrait of a political couple who refused to do either.

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