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Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance

Sunday 29 March 2015

1 Hour


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Award-winning biographer Daisy Hay describes the passionate relationship between Benjamin and Mary Anne Disraeli and shows how they rose to the top of the British establishment in an age of conformity – in spite of their lack of it. Mary Anne was 12 years older than Benjamin, eccentric, liable to misbehave, and overdressed for grand society. Benjamin was a mid-ranking novelist often mired in debt. They were fiercely devoted to each other. Hay has used the passionate letters they wrote to each other, held by the Bodleian Library, to piece together their story.

Hay won the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives. She is a lecturer in English literature and archival studies at the University of Exeter and was named a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker for 2014 – one of the brightest minds of the future with the ability to turn academic ideas into radio and television programmes.