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Mary Anne Evans

Mary Anne Evans (11 November 1792 - 15 December 1872) married Wyndham Lewis and then, after his death, Benjamin Disraeli. It was as a reward for his services to the nation that Queen Victoria made Mary Anne a peeress in her own right, Viscountess Beaconsfield, years before Disraeli accepted the honor of becoming Lord Beaconsfield.

Staid Victorians were often scandalized by Mary Anne's uninhibited remarks but soon learned not to insult her within Disraeli's hearing. Even Queen Victoria herself was said to be amused when Mary Anne commented, in response to a remark about some lady's pale complexion, "I wish you could see my Dizzy in his bath!" Once, at a house party where Lord Hardinge, a great soldier of the day, was in the room next to the Disraelis, Mary Anne announced at breakfast that she had slept the night before between the greatest soldier (Hardinge) and the greatest orator (Disraeli) of their times, and Lady Hardinge was definitely not amused.

Disraeli had thought Mary Anne silly when he first met her, while she was the wife of his political colleague Wyndham Lewis, but he came to understand that she was shrewder than her ditsy manner and non-sequiturs had led him to believe, and she was a great help to him in editing the books he wrote. He joked that he had married her for her money but would do it again for love, but the truth is that she was not really wealthy. She was some twelve years older than Dizzy, and he may not have known her true age, because she lied to him about it, but their romance continued until the day she died.

She is buried with him in a vault in the little church in Hughenden, Buckinghamshire (England), from which their home, Hughenden Manor, took its name. That house has been preserved, as it was when they left it, as a museum the public may visit.

Hughenden Manor