Six Robert Hugh Benson titles republished

 In light of the encouraging reception of its first three titles by Mgr Robert Hugh Benson (The Light Invisible , Lord of the World and The Dawn of All), Once-and-Future Books continues its programme of reviving the fiction of this long-neglected writer and announces the release of the next six titles in the series:

By What Authority? (ISBN 0972982116) From 1904, this is Father Benson's first full-length work, and presented in an unabridged edition. This historical epic is the author's story of England during the long reign of Elizabeth I.

Told in microcosm through the story of a middle class family, this novel raises the question whether England - or any nation - can achieve what the world conceives of as greatness without losing its soul - a theme repeated for Edwardian England in Father Benson's chilling science fiction satire Lord of the World from 1907.

By What Authority? is the first in Father Benson's loosely interrelated series of novels focusing on the English Reformation from the Catholic point of view.

Its depiction of St. Edmund Campion foreshadows the more in-depth treatment of the martyr in the author's magnificent Come rack! Come Rope!(1912), a future release by Once-and-Future Books.

The King's Achievement (ISBN 0972982124) In typical Benson fashion, this historical novel from 1905 continues the epic story of the rise of England to modern nation-state status by relating the story of the family familiar to us from By What Authority? before the events recounted in that novel! Where the hero in the earlier novel is English civil society, however, the hero in The King's Achievement is English religious society, personified in her monasteries and religious foundations. Just as the manipulation of England's laws and institutions by Elizabeth I resulted in the moral decay of English civil life, the destruction of the monasteries by Henry VIII undermined religion as a viable feature of daily life.

The Queen's Tragedy (ISBN 0972982132) Completing the informal trilogy begun with By What Authority? , this novel from 1906 grapples with the issue of one of England's least popular rulers - Queen Mary Tudor. By focusing on Mary's intense desire for a child and longing for a normal family life, Father Benson depicts with exquisite feeling and a rare sensitivity the humanity of a person usually portrayed as a monster. Mary's personal tragedies serve to symbolise and complete Benson's theme of the devastation of humanity's three societies, civil (the State), religious (the Church) and now domestic (the Family) that resulted from the Reformation in England.

A Mirror of Shalott (ISBN 0972982183) This rare collection of horror stories has been virtually unobtainable since its publication in 1907. Benson's object was to inspire "that horrible sense of silence round about us, in which dreadful forces are alert and watching us." (CC Martindale, SJ) He succeeds - brilliantly. Surviving copies of the first edition of this book typically cost in the hundreds of dollars. This edition by Once-and-Future Books is a reasonably priced and well-designed alternative. Montague Summers said of this book that "there are few better stories of this kind."

The Necromancers (ISBN 0972982191) Long considered a minor horror classic, The Necromancers from 1909 is actually an exposé of the dangers of "Spiritism" and, possibly more importantly, an incisive and poignant study of the effects of uncontrolled grief. This is the novel that outraged Marie Corelli and Frederick Rolfe ("Baron Corvo"), and which led, according to Evelyn Waugh, to Father Benson's cutting off all contact with the pair, immediately and without regret once they revealed their true feelings.

The Sentimentalists (ISBN 0972982175) Some of the scenes in this "sensational" novel from 1906 may seem a little tame by modern standards, but the shocking effect of an egomaniac and poseur ultimately stripped of all pretensions in order to rebuild him from the ground up remains. Just as The Necromancers focuses on the dangers of unrestrained grief, The Sentimentalists depicts the insidious evil of self-pity and manipulation of others as a way of life.

Once-and-Future Books publications are available online through, as well as from many bookshops.

first posted Falls Church, Virginia - 4 November 2005 - 690 words

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