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Database: Mary Anne Disraeli

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ACS DB Mary Anne Disraeli

Date of Birth: 11 November 1792.

Mary Anne Disraeli (née Viney), Viscountess Beaconsfield, was a prominent figure in British high society throughout much of the nineteenth century. She married Benjamin Disraeli in 1839, shortly after her first husband passed away, and was his constant companion, friend, and advisor until the day she died. Her affectation of a silly, scatterbrained demeanour and penchant for saying the sort of thing that made "proper" Victorians waggle their moustaches disapprovingly masked a keen political mind, and between the two of them, it was joked that Benjamin "married her for her money, but do it again for love."

(This is rather more charming if you realise that Mary Anne was quite skint when they married.)

It should be noted, though, that the Disraelis, both of whom were romantics to the core, had a rather trying marriage at first. Benjamin hid his extensive debts from her for years, and both felt the sting of public disapproval (the Victorian tabloids made today's Bat Boy sightings and illegitimate alien love children look downright reputable). Rather than wallow in misery as is the English way, the pair once again flouted convention by working out their problems and strengthening their relationship until their marriage became the storybook romance of which they had both dreamed.

In 1868, when Queen Victoria wanted to raise Disraeli to the nobility but he preferred to stay in the House of Commons, Mary Anne leapt upon the proverbial grenade and was dubbed Viscountess Beaconsfield. As ever, she made waves for her refusal to abide by the accepted standards of Victorian society: at court, her outfits frequently outdid the Queen's, and once she joined the ranks of nobility, she seized on every opportunity to show up the ladies who had once scorned her. Yet she was also active in many charitable causes, organising aid for the less fortunate. She also put her keen political mind to work on the campaign trail with her husband, winning hearts and minds through sheer baby-kissing determination. By the time of her death, the Disraelis were celebrated throughout Britain as a shining example of the joy, contentment, and success a proper union could bring.

Mary Anne Disraeli is buried along with her husband, who outlived her by several years, at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Hughenden, Buckinghamshire.

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