Living Alone

Amazingly, given the Benson clan’s reach, Stella Benson is not a relation of Erewash Press favourite EF Benson (of Mapp and Lucia fame).

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In wartime London, bombs rain down on a churchyard whilst two witches duel in the sky. A charity committee is disrupted by a magical visitor. A mysterious woman offers to rent rooms in her boarding house only to people who never receive visitors or take taxis. Stella Benson’s fantastical novel Living Alone was published just after the First World War, but presents a startling vision of that era.

Scenes of women do-gooding in committees and hunkering down during air raids will be familiar to readers of mid-century women’s fiction, but those usually don’t also include Harold the sentient broomstick, a witch bringing Spring at her fingertips, or a dragon overseeing a fairy farm.


Clergymen of the Church of England

Clergymen of the church of england What could be better than Trollope skewering the Church of England?

One hundred and fifty years ago Anthony Trollope published a series of articles about the clergy of the Church of England in the Pall Mall Gazette. They caused an uproar, and were denounced in some quarters as ignorant, ill-informed, and demonstrating a ‘hair-dresser’s opinion of religion’. The articles dealt with the state of the Anglican Church and the changes it was facing, via a series of imaginative and witty portraits of typical clergymen. From the urbane deans of cathedral closes, to the would-be celebrity preachers, Trollope’s pen sketched an array of clerical characters which caught the likeness of the Church of England at a crucial moment in its history.

Jem has written a bit more about it on his own blog, and you can buy the book from Amazon by clicking on the image, or following this link.

If you don’t want to read the book, you can still join the thousands (yes, literally thousands) of people who have taken our accompanying quiz: which type of clergyman are you?