Stella Benson is an author whom I discovered some years ago, and I immediately fell in love with her writing style and creativity. Her magical realism made such an effect on me and, without exception, her stories are incredibly memorable.
Born in Shropshire in 1892, Stella Benson battled with illness throughout her life. She moved frequently with her parents, and spent time in schools in both Germany and Switzerland. She began to write a diary at the age of ten, a project which she continued throughout her life, and at around the age of fourteen, when she had begun to write poetry, her parents separated, and she saw her father infrequently from then on. She travelled, visiting the West Indies in 1913, and was involved in both the Suffrage Movement, and charity work for poor women in London. She lived in China, where she married in 1921, and died in Vietnam in 1933.
“London is a friend whom I can leave knowing without doubt that she will be the same to me when I return, to-morrow or forty years hence, and that, if I do not return, she will sing the same song to inheritors of my happy lot in future generations. Always, whether sleeping or waking, I shall know that in Spring the sun rides over the silver streets of Kensington, and that in the Gardens the shorn sheep find very green pasture. Always the plaited threads of traffic will wind about the reel of London; always as you up Regent Street from Pall Mall and look back, Westminster will rise with you like a dim sun over the horizon of Whitehall. That dive down Fleet Street and up to the black and white cliffs of St. Paul’s will for ever bring to mind some rumour of romance. There is always a romance that we leave behind in London, and always London enlocks that flower for us, and keeps it fresh, so that when we come back we have our romance again.”
(From This Is the End)
Stella Benson’s bibliography can be found here.
– A fantastically thorough review of Stella Benson’s 1919 work Living Alone can be found on The City of Lost Books.
– The Imaginary Museum has published a fascinating blog post entitled ‘Unearthing Stella Benson’; read it here.
– You can read about Stella Benson’s experiences in the Great War here.