Robert Hugh Benson

Robert Hugh Benson (18 November 1871 – 19 October 1914) was an Anglican pastor who joined the Roman Catholic Church (1903) where he was ordained priest in 1904. Youngest son of Edward White Benson (Archbishop of Canterbury) and his wife, Mary, and younger brother of Edward Frederic Benson, he was lauded in his own day as one of the leading figures in English literature, having written the notable book Lord of The World.Benson was educated at Eton College and then studied classics and theology at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1890 to 1893.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 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 Benson, Benson wrote many ghost stories, collected in The Light Invisible (1903) and The Mirror of Shallott (1907). Seven of these stories are included in David Stuart Davies' (ed) The Temple of Death: The Ghost Stories of A.C. and R.H. Benson (Wordsworth, 2007) along with nine by his brother Arthur. His 1907 novel, Lord of the World, is generally regarded as one of the first modern dystopias (see List of dystopian literature).As a young man, Benson recalled, he had rejected the idea of marriage as “quite inconceivable”. Then, in 1904, soon after his ordination as a Roman Catholic priest, he formed a chaste but passionate friendship with Frederick Rolfe. For two years this relationship involved letters “not only weekly, but at times daily, and of an intimate character, exhaustingly charged with emotion”. All letters were subsequently destroyed, probably by Benson’s brother.Benson was appointed a supernumerary private chamberlain to the Pope in 1911 and, consequently, styled as Monsignor.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_H...)



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