A. C. Benson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Arthur Christopher Benson)
Jump to: navigation, search
Arthur Christopher Benson.

Arthur Christopher Benson (24 April 1862 – 17 June 1925) was an English essayist, poet, author and academic[1] and the 28th Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Noted for writing the words to "Land of Hope and Glory", Benson was born into an accomplished literary family as one of three brothers who were all prolific writers of fiction and their sister, author and Egyptologist Margaret.

Early life[edit]

Benson was one of six children of Edward White Benson (Archbishop of Canterbury, 1882–96) and his 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.[2]


Despite his illness, Arthur was a distinguished academic and a most prolific author. He was educated at Temple Grove School, Eton, and King's College, Cambridge.[3] 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.[4]

Benson caricatured by Spy for Vanity Fair, 1903.

His poems and volumes of essays, such as From a College Window, and The Upton Letters (essays in the form of 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.

Like his two brothers Edward Fredric (E.F.) and Robert Hugh (R.H.), A.C. Benson was also noted as an author of ghost stories. The bulk of his published ghost stories in the two volumes The Hill of Trouble (1903) and The Isles of Sunset (1904) were written as moral allegories for his pupils. After Arthur's death, Fred Benson found a collection of unpublished ghost stories by Arthur. He put two of them into a book, Basil Netherby (1927); the title story was renamed "House at Treheale" and the volume was completed by the long "The Uttermost Farthing".[5] The fate of the rest of the stories is unknown. The collection Paul the Minstrel and Other Stories (1911; reprint 1977, collects the entire contents of The Hill of Trouble and The Isles of Sunset.[6] Nine of Arthur's ghost stories are included in David Stuart Davies (ed), The Temple of Death: The Ghost Stories of A.C. & R.H. Benson (Wordsworth, 2007), together with seven by his brother Robert Hugh (R.H.) Benson, while nine of Arthur's and 10 of Robert's are included in Ghosts in the House (Ash-Tree, 1996); the contents of the two joint collections are similar but not identical.


In The Schoolmaster Benson summarized his views on education based on his 18-year experience at Eton. He criticized the tendency, which he wrote was prevalent in English public schools at the time, to "make the boys good and to make them healthy" to the detriment of their intellectual development.[7]

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he founded the Benson Medal in 1916, to be awarded "in respect of meritorious works in poetry, fiction, history and belles lettres".[8]


He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge. His cousin James Bethune-Baker is also buried in the Ascension Parish Burial Ground.


  • Men of Might: Studies of Great Characters (with H.F.W. Tatham, 1892).[9]
  • Le Cahier Jaune: Poems (1892).[10]
  • Poems (1893).
  • Genealogy of the Family of Benson of Banger House and Northwoods, in the Parish of Ripon and Chapelry of Pateley Bridge (1894).[11]
  • Lyrics (1895).[12]
  • Lord Vyet & Other Poems (1898).
  • Ode in Memory of the Rt. Honble. William Ewart Gladstone (1898).[13]
  • Thomas Gray (1895).[14]
  • Essays (1896).[15]
  • Fasti Etonenses: A Biographical History of Eton (1899)[16]
  • The Professor: and Other Poems (1900).[17]
  • The Schoolmaster (1902).[18]
  • Monnow: An Ode (1906).
  • The Hill of Trouble and Other Stories (1903).[19]
  • The Isles of Sunset (1904).[20]
  • Peace: and Other Poems (1905).[21]
  • The Gate of Death: A Diary (1906).[22]
  • From a College Window (1906).[23]
  • Rossetti (1906).[24]
  • Walter Pater (1906).[25]
  • The Thread of Gold (1907)[26]
  • Memoirs of Arthur Hamilton (1907).[23]
  • The House of Quiet: An Autobiography (1907).[27]
  • The Altar Fire (1907).[23]
  • The Letters of One, a Study in Limitations (1907).
  • Beside Still Waters (1908).[28]
  • At Large (1908).[23]
  • Tennyson (1908).[29]
  • The Upton Letters (1908).[23]
  • Until the Evening (1909).[30]
  • The Poems of A. C. Benson (1909).[31]
  • The Child of the Dawn (1911).[32]
  • Paul the Minstrel and Other Stories (1911).[23]
  • The Leaves of the Tree: Studies in Biography (1911).[33]
  • Ruskin: A Study in Personality (1911).[34]
  • The Letters of Queen Victoria (1907).[35][36][37]
  • Thy Rod and Thy Staff (1912).[38]
  • The Beauty of Life: Being Selections from the Writings of Arthur Christopher Benson (1912).[39]
  • Joyous Gard (1913).[40]
  • The Silent Isle (1913).[41]
  • Along the Road (1913).[42]
  • Where No Fear Was: A Book About Fear (1914).[23]
  • The Orchard Pavilion (1914).[43]
  • Escape and Other Essays (1916).[44]
  • Meanwhile; A Packet of War Letters (1916).[45]
  • Father Payne (1917).[46]
  • Life and Letters of Maggie Benson (1920).[47]
  • Watersprings (1920).[48]
  • Hugh: Memoirs of a Brother (1920).[49]
  • The Reed of Pan; English Renderings of Greek Epigrams and Lyrics (1922).[50]
  • Magdalene College, Cambridge: A Little View of Its Buildings and History (1923).[51]
  • Selected Poems (1924).
  • Chris Gascoyne; An Experiment in Solitude, from the Diaries of John Trevor (1924).
  • Everybody's Book of the Queen's Dolls' House (1924).
  • Memories and Friends (1924).
  • Edward Fitzgerald (1925).[52]
  • The House of Menerdue (1925).[53]
  • Rambles and Reflections (1926).[54]
  • Basil Netherby (1926).
  • The Diary of Arthur Christopher Benson (1926).

Reviews of Benson’s poetry[edit]

  • "The Poetry of Mr. A. C. Benson" in the Sewanee Review, Volume 14 (Sewanee: University of the South, 1906), 110-111, 405-421.[55]
  • "Poets All" in The Speaker, Volume 15, 13 February 1897 (London), 196.[56]
  • "Mr. Benson’s Poems" in The Literary World, Volume 48, 3 November 1893 (London: James Clarke & Co.), 329.[57]
  • "Selected Poetry of Arthur Christopher Benson" (1862–1925).[2]
  • "A Literary Causerie" in The Speaker, Volume 15, 13 March 1897 (London), 299.[56]


  1. ^ "Benson, Arthur Christopher". Who's Who. 59: 136. 1907. 
  2. ^ a b "Selected Poetry of Arthur Christopher Benson, 1862 – 1925". Representative Poetry Online. University of Toronto. 
  3. ^ "Benson, Arthur Christopher (BN881AC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ The Times newspaper, 22 October 1906, p. 6, col. C.
  5. ^ Mike Ashley, "The Essential Writers: Blood Brothers" (Profile of E.F., A.C. and R. H. Benson). Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine (pp. 63-70). May/June 1984.
  6. ^ Jack Sullivan (ed.), The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural. NY: Viking Penguin, 1986, p. 30.
  7. ^ Benson, A.C. (2011) [1902]. "Chapter 6, Intellect". The Schoolmaster. Peridot Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-908095-30-5. 
  8. ^ "The Benson Medal". The Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  9. ^ Men of Might: Studies of Great Characters. Arnold. 1899 – via Google Books. 
  10. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1892). Le Cahier Jaune: Poems. G. New – via Google Books. 
  11. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1894). Genealogy of the Family of Benson of Banger House and Northwoods, in the Parish of Ripon and Chapelry of Pateley Bridge. New – via Google Books. 
  12. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1895). Lyrics. John Lane – via Google Books. 
  13. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1898). Ode in Memory of the Rt. Honble. William Ewart Gladstone. R. Ingalton Drake – via Google Books. 
  14. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1895). Thomas Gray,. Eton,. 
  15. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1896). Essays. New York,. 
  16. ^ "Review of Fasti Etonenses by A. C. Benson & A History of Eton College by Lionel Cust". The Athenæum (3767): 8–9. 6 January 1900. 
  17. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1900). The Professor: And Other Poems. John Lane – via Google Books. 
  18. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1908). The Schoolmaster: A Commentary Upon the Aims and Methods of an Assistant-master in a Public School. Putnam – via Google Books. 
  19. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1903). The Hill of Trouble and Other Stories. London. 
  20. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1905). The Isles of Sunset. Ibister – via Google Books. 
  21. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1905). Peace: And Other Poems. J. Lane – via Google Books. 
  22. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1906). The Gate of Death: A Diary .. G. P. Putnam's sons – via Google Books. 
  23. ^ a b c d e f g "Project Gutenberg". 
  24. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1906). Rossetti. S. Chand & Co. 
  25. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1906). Walter Pater. Macmillan – via Google Books. 
  26. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1907). The Thread of Gold. Murray – via Google Books. 
  27. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1907). The House of Quiet: An Autobiography. E. P. Dutton – via Google Books. 
  28. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1908). Beside Still Waters. G.P. Putnam's Sons – via Google Books. 
  29. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1907). Alfred Tennyson. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. 
  30. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1909). Until the Evening. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. 
  31. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1909). The Poems of A. C. Benson ... J. Lane – via Google Books. 
  32. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1912). The Child of the Dawn. G. P. Putnam's Sons – via Google Books. 
  33. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1911). The Leaves of the Tree; Studies in Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  34. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1911). Ruskin: A Study in Personality. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 
  35. ^ Victoria (1907). The Letters of Queen Victoria, a selection from Her Majesty's correspondence between the years 1837 and 1861, published by authority of His Majesty the king; Vol. I 1837–1843. London: John Murray. 
  36. ^ Victoria (1907). The Letters of Queen Victoria, a selection from Her Majesty's correspondence between the years 1837 and 1861, published by authority of His Majesty the king; Vol. II 1844–1853. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. 
  37. ^ Victoria (1907). The Letters of Queen Victoria, a selection from Her Majesty's correspondence between the years 1837 and 1861, published by authority of His Majesty the king; Vol. III 1854–1861. London: John Murray. 
  38. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1912). Thy Rod and Thy Staff. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  39. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1912). The Beauty of Life: being selections from the writings of Arthur Christopher Benson. London, New York, Toronto: Hodder & Stoughton. 
  40. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1913). Joyous Gard. New York and London: G.P. Putnam's. 
  41. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1910). The Silent Isle. London: Smith, Elder & co. 
  42. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1913). Along the Road. London: James Nisbet & Co. 
  43. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1914). The Orchard Pavilion. New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 
  44. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1915). Escape, and Other Essays. New York: The Century Co. 
  45. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1916). Meanwhile; A Packet of War Letters. London: John Murray. 
  46. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1917). Father Payne. Putnam – via Google Books. 
  47. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1917). Life and Letters of Maggie Benson. J. Murray – via Google Books. 
  48. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1913). Watersprings. Smith, Elder – via Google Books. 
  49. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1915). Hugh: Memoirs of a Brother. Longmans, Green – via Google Books. 
  50. ^ Benson, A. C. The Reed of Pan; English renderings of Greek epigrams and lyrics. 
  51. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1923). Magdalene College, Cambridge; A little view of its buildings and history. Cambridge,: Bowes & Bowes. 
  52. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1905). Edward Fitzgerald. Macmillan – via Google Books. 
  53. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher (1925). The House of Menerdue. London: William Heinemann. 
  54. ^ Benson, Arthur Christopher. Rambles and Reflections. London: John Murray. 
  55. ^ The Sewanee Review. University of the South. 1906 – via Google Books. 
  56. ^ a b The Speaker. 1897 – via Google Books. 
  57. ^ The Literary World. 1893 – via Google Books. 
  • Ryle, Edward Hewish (1925). Arthur Christopher Benson as Seen by Some Friends. London: G. Bell and Sons.
  • Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. p. 39. ISBN 0-911682-20-1. 
  • Wilson, Keith (1990). "A. C. Benson," in Robert Beum, ed., Dictionary of Literary Biography: British Essayists, 1880–1960. Detroit: Gale, pp. 192–204.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Stuart Alexander Donaldson
Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Allen Beville Ramsay