Robert Hugh Benson

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Robert Hugh Benson
Monsignor R. H. Benson in Oct. 1912, Aged 40.jpg
Photo of Benson by G. Jerrard, 1912
Born Robert Hugh Benson
(1871-11-18)18 November 1871
Wellington College, Berkshire
Died 19 October 1914(1914-10-19) (aged 42)
Bishop's house Salford Cathedral, Salford
Parent(s) Edward White Benson and Mary Sidgwick Benson
Church Roman Catholic
Ordained 1904
Signature of Robert Hugh Benson.jpg

Robert Hugh Benson AFSC KC*SG KGCHS (18 November 1871 – 19 October 1914) was an English Anglican priest who in 1903 was received into the Roman Catholic Church in which he was ordained priest in 1904. He was lauded in his own day as one of the leading figures in English literature, having written the notable novel Lord of the World (1907).


Benson was the youngest son of Edward White Benson (Archbishop of Canterbury) and his wife, Mary, and the younger brother of Edward Frederic Benson and A. C. Benson.[1]

Benson was educated at Eton College and then studied classics and theology at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1890 to 1893.[2]

In 1895, Benson was ordained a priest in the Church of England by his father, who was the then Archbishop of Canterbury.

After his father died suddenly in 1896, Benson was sent on a trip to the Middle East to recover his own health. While there he began to question the status of the Church of England and to consider the claims of the Roman Catholic Church. His own piety began to tend toward the High Church tradition, and he started exploring religious life in various Anglican communities, eventually obtaining permission to join the Community of the Resurrection.

Benson made his profession as a member of the community in 1901, at which time he had no thoughts of leaving the Church of England. As he continued his studies and began writing, however, he became more and more uneasy with his own doctrinal position and, on 11 September 1903, he was received into the Catholic Church. He was awarded the Dignitary of Honour of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

Benson was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1904 and sent to Cambridge. He continued his writing career along with his ministry as a priest.

Like both his brothers, Edward Frederic Benson ("Fred") and Arthur Christopher Benson, Robert wrote many ghost and horror stories, collected in The Light Invisible (1903) and A Mirror of Shallott (1907).[1] His novel, Lord of the World (1907), is generally regarded as one of the first modern dystopias (see List of dystopian literature).[1]

As a young man, Benson recalled, he had rejected the idea of marriage as "quite inconceivable".[3] Benson was appointed a supernumerary private chamberlain to the Pope in 1911 and, consequently, styled as Monsignor.

Death and legacy

Benson died in 1914 in Salford, where he had been preaching a mission. At his request, he was buried in the orchard of Hare Street House, his house in the Hertfordshire village of Hare Street.[4] A chapel, dedicated to St Hugh, was built over the site. Benson bequeathed the house to the Catholic Church as a county retreat for the Archbishop of Westminster. The Roman Catholic church in the nearby town of Buntingford, which he helped finance, is dedicated to St Richard of Chichester, but also known as the Benson Memorial Church.[5]



Science fiction

Historical fiction

Contemporary Fiction

Children's Books

Devotional Works

Apologetic Works


Selected articles





  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ashley, Mike (May–June 1984). "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Benson, Robert Hugh (BN890RH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Benson, Robert Hugh (1913). Confessions of a Convert. Longmans, Green and Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Benson, A.C. Hugh: Memoirs of a Brother. Dodo Press. p. 210. ISBN 1406548197.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The Dawn of All," The Bookman, September 1911.
  7. Cooper, Frederick Taber. "The Accustomed Manner and Some Recent Novels," The Bookman, May 1914.


Beesley, Thomas Quinn (1916), "The Poetry of Robert Hugh Benson", The Catholic Educational Review, XII: 122–34<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Benson, Arthur B. (1915), Hugh: Memoir of a Brother, London: Smith, Elder & Co<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Benson, Robert Hugh (1913), Confessions of a Convert, London: Longmans, Green and Co<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
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Brown, Stephen J.M.; McDermott, Thomas (1945), A Survey of Catholic Literature, Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Concannon, Helena (1914a), "Robert Hugh Benson, Novelist", The Catholic World, XCIX (592): 487–98<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Concannon, Helena (1914b), "Robert Hugh Benson, Novelist", The Catholic World, XCIX (593): 635–45<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Grayson, Janet (1998), Robert Hugh Benson: Life and Works, Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, ISBN 0761811524<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Watt, Reginald J.J. (1918), Robert Hugh Benson: Captain in God's Army, London: Burns & Oates<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
McMahon, Joseph H. (1915), "The Late Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson", Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, XXVI (1): 55–63<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
McMahon, Joseph H. (1915), "Robert Hugh Benson: A Personal Memory", The Bookman, XLI (2): 160–69<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Monaghan, Mary Saint Rita (1985), Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson: His Apostolate and Its Message for Our Time, Ormond, Vic.: Boolarong Publications, ISBN 0959005900<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Martindale, C.C. (1916a), The Life of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, 1, London: Longmans, Green & Co<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Martindale, C.C. (1916b), The Life of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, 2, London: Longmans, Green & Co<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Ross, Allan (1915), Monsignor Hugh Benson (1871-1914), London: The Catholic Truth Society<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Parr, Olive Katherine (1915), Robert Hugh Benson: An Appreciation, London: Hutchinson & Co<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Shuster, Norman (1922), "Robert Hugh Benson and the Aging Novel", The Catholic Spirit in Modern English Literature, New York: The Macmillan Company, pp. 208–28<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Warre Cornish, Blanche (1914), Memorials of Robert Hugh Benson, New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.

Further reading

  • Bour'his, Jean Morris le (1980). Robert Hugh Benson, Homme de Foi et Artiste. Atelier Reproduction de Thèses, Université de Lille III.
  • Braybrooke, Patrick (1931). "Robert Hugh Benson; Novelist and Philosopher." In: Some Catholic Novelists. London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne.
  • Gorce, Agnès de La (1928). Robert Hugh Benson: Prêtre et Romancier, 1871-1914. Paris: Plon.
  • Retté, Adolphe (1926). "Trois Livres de Benson" (PDF). La Basse-cour d'Apollon: Mœurs Littéraires. Paris: Albert Messein. pp. 237–50.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links