Prominent Sisters: Mary Lamb, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Sarah Disraeli

By Michael Polowetzky | Go to book overview

hopes but also a tragedy characteristic of so many intelligent women in nineteenth-century British society. With her chance for a marriage of love and partnership lost by the early death of William Meredith, with her continued financial dependence on a dominating father, and with her lack of a constructive outlet for her abilities, Sarah could obtain fulfillment only vicariously, through her brother. Benjamin's political and literary triumphs brought her much of the emotional and intellectual satisfaction she sought. But inevitably, the higher he rose, the more these same achievements isolated her from him, leaving Sarah in the end as only a distant spectator.

Through their success in winning a measure of equality within a maledominated society and their attainment of a renown that made them more than simply famous men's female siblings, Mary Lamb and Dorothy Wordsworth are usually considered today as much more important figures than Sarah Disraeli. But her life, even with its many bitter disappointments, possesses a special historical significance all its own. It is perhaps the finest and most eloquent memorial to that far greater proportion of British women, with talents equal to those of the Hostess of the Middle Temple and the Lady of Grasmere, who unlike them were never allowed to flourish and whose gifts will probably never be remembered.


NOTES: PART THREE
1.
Benjamin Disraeli, Letters from Benjamin Disraeli to Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry( London: Macmillan, 1938), 164.
2.
J. F. Monypenny and G. E. Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli ( London: Macmillan, 1910-20), vol. 1, 22.
3.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Byron: A Self-Portrait, ed. Peter Quennell ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 702.
4.
Monypenny and Buckle, Life of Disraeli, 18.
5.
Wilfred Meynell, Benjamin Disraeli -- An Unconventional Biography ( London: Hutchinson, 1903), 211.
6.
Benjamin Disraeli, Contarini Fleming ( London: Murray, 1832), ch. 2.
8.
Monypenny and Buckle, Life of Disraeli, 76.
9.
Benjamin Disraeli, Endymion ( London: Murray, 1881), ch. 101
10.
Monypenny and Buckle, Life of Disraeli, 180
12.
J. A. Froude, Lord Beaconsfield ( London: Sampson Low, 1890), 13
13.
Benjamin Disraeli, Letters, eds. J. A.W. Gunn, J. Matthewson, D. M. Shurman, and M. G. Wiebe ( Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982-93), vol. 1, 11-12.
16.
Robert Blake, Disraeli's Grand Tour ( New York: Oxford, 1982), 121.
17.
Monypenny and Buckle, Life of Disraeli, 133-34.
19.
Disraeli, Letters, 186-87.

-142-

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