A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion, And The Bensons In Victorian Britain by Simon GoldhillA Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion, And The Bensons In Victorian Britain by Simon Goldhill

A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion, And The Bensons In Victorian Britain

bySimon Goldhill

Paperback | October 6, 2017

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“We can begin with a kiss, though this will not turn out to be a love story, at least not a love story of anything like the usual kind.”

So begins A Very Queer Family Indeed, which introduces us to the extraordinary Benson family. Edward White Benson became Archbishop of Canterbury at the height of Queen Victoria’s reign, while his wife, Mary, was renowned for her wit and charm—the prime minister once wondered whether she was “the cleverest woman in England or in Europe.” The couple’s six precocious children included E. F. Benson, celebrated creator of the Mapp and Lucia novels, and Margaret Benson, the first published female Egyptologist.

What interests Simon Goldhill most, however, is what went on behind the scenes, which was even more unusual than anyone could imagine. Inveterate writers, the Benson family spun out novels, essays, and thousands of letters that open stunning new perspectives—including what it might mean for an adult to kiss and propose marriage to a twelve-year-old girl, how religion in a family could support or destroy relationships, or how the death of a child could be celebrated. No other family has left such detailed records about their most intimate moments, and in these remarkable accounts, we see how family life and a family’s understanding of itself took shape during a time when psychoanalysis, scientific and historical challenges to religion, and new ways of thinking about society were developing. This is the story of the Bensons, but it is also more than that—it is the story of how society transitioned from the high Victorian period into modernity.
Simon Goldhill is professor of Greek and the director of the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is the author of many books, including Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave; How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today; and ...
Title:A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion, And The Bensons In Victorian BritainFormat:PaperbackDimensions:344 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:October 6, 2017Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022652728X

ISBN - 13:9780226527284

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Table of Contents

Part I: The Family That Wrote Itself
1          Sensation!
2          Wooing Mother
3          Bringing Up the Subject
4          Fifty Ways to Say I Hate My Father
5          Tell the Truth, My Boy
6          A Map of Biographical Urges
7          To Write a Life
8          Women in Love
9          Graphomania

Part II: Being Queer
10        What’s in a Name?
11        Though Wholly Pure and Good
12        He Never Married
13        All London Is Agog
14        Carnal Affections
15        Be a Man, My Boy
16        “It’s Not Unusual . . .”

Part III: The God of Our Fathers
17        It Will Be Worth Dying
18        The Deeper Self That Can’t Decide
19        Our Father
20        Secret History
21        Writing the History of the Church
22        Building History
23        Forms of Worship
24        Capturing the Bensons

Part IV: Not I . . .
25        Not I . . .
Bibliography and Notes

Editorial Reviews

"Goldhill showcases the emotional landscape and complex processes of the written self-fashionings of a prominent family that was, at once, quintessentially Victorian and highly unconventional. . . .Goldhill's beautifully written book represents a major accomplishment chock full of wonderful insights about the transition to modernity."