Fred’s Early Memory

E.F. “Fred” Benson (1867-1940) came from an extraordinary family. His father was the Archbishop of Canterbury. His mother was described by the British prime minister as “the cleverest woman in Europe.” Fred grew up to be a scholar and athlete, a champion figure skater, and prolific author. He never married. He is best known for his series of books about Mapp and Lucia. Late in his life he served as mayor of Rye, in Sussex, England.

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Singable Nursery Rhymes

“A large proportion of so-called nursery rhymes are songs or snatches of songs, which are preserved also as broadsides, or appeared in printed form in early song-books. . .Many songs are preserved in a number of variations, for popular songs are in a continual state of transformation.” — Lina Eckenstein, 1906.

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Mr. Woodward’s Peacock

Arthur Christopher Benson (1862-1925) came from an extraordinary family. His father was the Archbishop of Canterbury and the six younger Bensons distinguished themselves in many different fields.

Arthur taught at Eton and later became master of Magdalene College at Cambridge. He was a prolific author, quite famous in his time. He co-edited  the published volumes of Queen Victoria’s letters, and wrote the lyrics to the famous song “Land of Hope and Glory.” His diary is one of the longest ever written–more than four million words in length.

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Royal Visit to Kingston Ontario, 1919

This text is from “The Prince Delighted with his Kingston Visit” from The Daily British Whig, Monday October 27, 1919.

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Maggie and the Sheep

Margaret Benson (1865-1916) came from an extraordinary family. Her father was the Archbishop of Canterbury and her mother was a strikingly independent woman. The six younger Bensons distinguished themselves in many different fields. All were scholars and authors. None ever married. Maggie was one of the first women to study at Oxford University and the first to receive official permission to excavate in Egypt. This letter to her mother was written when Maggie and her brother were travelling in France.

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The Trebizond Partridge Seller

Odoric of Pordenone was an Italian monk and explorer who lived from about 1286 to 1331. He is sometimes compared to the famous adventurer Marco Polo.

Odoric’s journey to Trebizond took place sometime around 1317, when he was first sent to the east as a missionary. Later he went to Constantinople, India and China. He was still travelling thirteen years later when he fell ill and died during a stopover in Italy.

His writings have been popular ever since. This excerpt is from “The Travels of Oderic,” in A General History: Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 1, edited by Robert Kerr, 1824.

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