Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance

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9780099597445: Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance

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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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 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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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. He was a debt-ridden dandy, a mid-ranking novelist armed with enormous political ambition. She was a moneyed widow twelve years older than her new husband, always overdressed for society dinners and never one to hold her tongue. From the outset, Mary Anne and Benjamin Disraeli made an unlikely match, yet they rose to the very pinnacle of Victorian society. Drawing on the couple s love letters and Mary Anne s own formidable archives, Daisy Hay reveals the heady mix of romance and power that fuelled their influence - and chronicles how the Disraelis crafted their unconventional marriage into an enduring love story. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099597445

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. He was a debt-ridden dandy, a mid-ranking novelist armed with enormous political ambition. She was a moneyed widow twelve years older than her new husband, always overdressed for society dinners and never one to hold her tongue. From the outset, Mary Anne and Benjamin Disraeli made an unlikely match, yet they rose to the very pinnacle of Victorian society. Drawing on the couple s love letters and Mary Anne s own formidable archives, Daisy Hay reveals the heady mix of romance and power that fuelled their influence - and chronicles how the Disraelis crafted their unconventional marriage into an enduring love story. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099597445

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Book Description Vintage Publishing. Book Condition: New. He was a debt-ridden dandy, a mid-ranking novelist armed with enormous political ambition. She was a moneyed widow twelve years older than her new husband, always overdressed for society dinners and never one to hold her tongue. Mary Anne and Benjamin Disraeli made an unlikely match, yet they rose to the very pinnacle of Victorian society. Num Pages: 320 pages. BIC Classification: 1DBK; 3JH; BGH; HBJD1; HBLL; JPHL. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 129. . . 2016. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780099597445

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, 2016. Book Condition: New. He was a debt-ridden dandy, a mid-ranking novelist armed with enormous political ambition. She was a moneyed widow twelve years older than her new husband, always overdressed for society dinners and never one to hold her tongue. Mary Anne and Benjamin Disraeli made an unlikely match, yet they rose to the very pinnacle of Victorian society. Num Pages: 320 pages. BIC Classification: 1DBK; 3JH; BGH; HBJD1; HBLL; JPHL. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 129. . . 2016. Paperback. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099597445

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Book Description Vintage Publishing. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance, Daisy Hay, 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 age. The daughter of a sailor, on her second marriage and 12 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 loved. Reading 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 House. In 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 both. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099597445

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