A. C. Benson biography

A. C. Benson


1862 – 1925


Who was A. C. Benson?

Arthur Christopher Benson was an English essayist, poet, and author and the 28th Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Benson was one of six children of Edward White Benson and his lesbian wife Mary, sister of the philosopher Henry Sidgwick. The Benson family was exceptionally literate and accomplished, but their history was somewhat tragic. A son and daughter died young; and another daughter, as well as Arthur himself, suffered badly from a mental condition that was probably manic-depressive psychosis, which they had inherited from their father. None of the children ever married. Arthur was homosexual, though his diaries suggest he had few or no sexual relationships.

Despite his illness, Arthur was a distinguished academic and a most prolific author. He was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge. From 1885 to 1903 he taught at Eton, returning to Cambridge to lecture in English literature for Magdalene College. From 1915 to 1925, he was Master of Magdalene. From 1906, he was a governor of Gresham's School.

His poems and volumes of essays, such as From a College Window, and The Upton Letters were famous in his day; and he left one of the longest diaries ever written, some four million words. Extracts from the diaries are printed in Edwardian Excursions. From the Diaries of A.C. Benson, 1898-1904, ed. David Newsome, London : John Murray, 1981. Today, he is best remembered as the author of the words of one of Britain's best-loved patriotic songs, Land of Hope and Glory, and as a brother of novelists E. F. Benson and Robert Hugh Benson, and of Egyptologist Margaret Benson.


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Apr 24, 1862
Also known as
  • Arthur Christopher Benson
  • Christopher Benson
  • Anglicanism
  • England
  • Magdalene College, Cambridge
  • Eton College
  • King's College, Cambridge
Jun 17, 1925

on July 23, 2013

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