Benson, Arthur Christopher (1862 - 1925)

Biography: 

Born April 24, 1862, to Mary Sidgwick and Edward White Benson, future archbishop of Canterbury (1882-1896), Arthur Christopher Benson became a popular essayist of Edwardian England, the librettist of England's beloved anthem, "Land of Hope and Glory," and the editor of Queen Victoria's letters. Benson received his education at Temple Grove School, East Sheen, at Eton 1874-81, and at King's College, Cambridge, 1881-84. He joined Eton in 1885 and until 1903, when he retired, was both well-liked schoolmaster and school historian. He published poetry from 1892 and essays from 1896. It was Benson's libretto for Elgar's "Coronation Ode" (1902), commissioned by the composer (perhaps at the instance of Edward VII), that brought the man of letters national fame. He left Eton in 1903 to co-edit Victoria's correspondence in 3 vols. (1907), for which he was made commander of the Royal Victorian Order. Benson then went to live in the Old Granary in Cambridge, in March 1906 to Hinton Hall at Haddenham, and last to Magdalene College, Cambridge, to which he was elected fellow in October 1904. Benson went on to become president of Magdalene in 1912 and Master in 1915. He suffered from hideous bouts of depression, first at Eton in 1882 and then in 1908-09, 1918, and 1922. In poems sometimes neglected in his later collections (such as "Courage"), Benson gave expression to this disabling trauma. He never married and was openly, if (it seems from his diaries) asexually, gay. On June 17, 1925, Benson died of a heart attack. He was remembered warmly every closing night of the London Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, which climaxed in a choric version of the patriotic "Land of Hope and Glory" -- audience joining in with performers -- until 2001, when it was withdrawn after objections from conscientious objectors to the Afghanistan war.

 

  • Benson, Arthur C. Le Cahier Jaune: Poems. Eton: George New, 1892. PR 4099 B5C2 Robarts Library
  • --. Coronation Ode, Set to Music by Edward Elgar: Book of Words. Notes by Joseph Bennett. London: Boosey, 1902. M 1533 .E38 OP. 44 Music Library
  • --. Hymns and Carols. Eton: Spottiswoode, 1907.
  • --. Lord Vyet and Other Poems. London and New York: John Lane, 1897. LE B474kz Robarts Library
  • --. Lyrics. London: John Lane, 1895. PR 4099 B5L8 Robarts Library
  • --. Monnow: An ode. Eton: Drake, 1896.
  • --. Ode in Memory of the Rt. Honble. William Ewart Gladstone. Eton: Drake [privately printed], 1898.
  • --. Ode to Japan. London: Chiswick Press, 1902.
  • --. Peace and Other Poems. London and New York: John Lane, 1905.
  • --. Poems. London: Elkin Matthews and John Lane, 1893. PR 4099 B5P6 1893 Robarts Library
  • --. The Poems of A. C. Benson. London and New York: John Lane, 1909. PR 4099 B5P6 1909 Robarts Library
  • --. The Professor and Other Poems. London and New York: John Lane, 1900. PR 4099 B5P7 Robarts Library
  • --. Selected Poems. London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1924. PR 4099 B5S4 Robarts Library
  • --. Extracts from the letters of Dr. A.C. Benson to M.E.A. Ed. M.E. Allen. London: Jarrolds, 1926? PR 4099 .B5Z483 1926 Robarts Library
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  • Hyam, R. “Benson, Arthur Christopher (1862-1925).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004.
  • Henry James: Letters to A.C. Benson and Auguste Monod. Ed. E.F. Benson. London: E. Mathews and Marrot, 1930. end J354 A175 1930a Fisher Rare Book Library
  • Newsome, David. On the Edge of Paradise: A. C. Benson, the Diarist. London: John Murray, 1980. PR 4099 B5Z79 1980 Robarts Library

The photograph of A. C. Benson was taken by A. H. Fry in 1899 and is published in The Diary of Arthur Christopher Benson, edited by Percy Lubbock (London: Hutchinson, [1926]).

Given Name: 
Arthur Christopher
Family Name: 
Benson
Birth Date: 
May 24, 1862
Death Date: 
July 17, 1925
Nationality: 
Family Relations: 
mother : Mary Sidgwick Benson
father : Edward White Benson

Religion

Literary Period: 
Literary Movement: 

Illness

Cause of Death: 
First RPO Edition: 
2001