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version of the patriotic "Land of Hope and Glory" -- audience joining in with performers -- until 2001, when it was withdrawn after objections from conscientious objectors to the Afghanistan war.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