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.