'A lively and exemplary approach to research... A sort of Benson family scrapbook. Admirable.' --The Times
'Much of the joy of this effervescent biography is in its detail... At the heart is an extraordinary woman...who deserves to be written and read about.' --Independent on Sunday
`Mary Benson is lucky to have a champion in Rodney Bolt who rescues her from the sidelines of history with As Good As God, As Clever As the Devil which is sure to be one of the most riveting biographies you'll read all year... Though Mary died in 1918, she is vivid and lively in this sympathetic biography that is often screamingly funny. Bolt's characterization of the Benson children, not to mention their father, are spot on.'
--Lee Randall, Scotsman
'Utterly absorbing...devilishly good.' --Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times Alexandra Harris, Guardian
'Sure to be one of the most riveting biographies you'll read all year.' --Lee Randall, Scotsman
'This fascinating book does a brilliant job of revealing just how permissive Victorian society actually was.' --Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times Alexandra Harris, Guardian
`Much of the joy of this effervescent biography is in its detail... At the heart of this book is an extraordinary woman who "evoked rather than dazzled".' --Independent on Sunday Lisa Gee, Independent on Sunday
--Duncan Fallowell, Daily Express
'Whoever invented the phrase "Victorian values" was presumably not thinking of [the Bensons]... This fascinating book does a brilliant job of revealing just how permissive Victorian society actually was. As Bolt shows, so long as you didn't frighten the horses or alarm the servants, you could get away with pretty much anything.' --Sunday Times
'Despite this extraordinary cast of characters, it is Mary herself who remains centre-stage, her life almost an apotheosis of all that is disturbing in the Victorian period... Bolt's tone is carefully judged throughout, both affectionately admiring of his subject and yet astringently objective. The cleverest woman in Europe and her remarkable brood are fascinating... even as one is grateful never to have met them.'
About the Author
Rodney Bolt was born in South Africa. He studied at Rhodes University and wrote the play Gandhi: Act Too, which won the 1980 Durban Critic's Circle Play of the Year award. That same year he won a scholarship to Cambridge and read English at Corpus Christi. He has twice won twice won Travel Writer of the Year awards in Germany and is the author of History Play, an invented biography of Christopher Marlowe (HarperCollins, 2004) and The Librettist of Venice, a biography of Lorenzo Da Ponte (Bloomsbury, 2006), which was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He lives in Amsterdam.