Caroline Benn

Caroline Benn

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Caroline Benn

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Caroline Middleton DeCamp Benn (13 October 1926 – 22 November 2000), formerly Viscountess Stansgate, was an educationalist and writer, and wife of the British Labour politician Tony Benn (formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate).

Born Caroline Middleton DeCamp, she was the elder daughter of James and Anne DeCamp of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Her father was a lawyer and she came from a privileged background. Educated at Vassar College (BA, 1946) and the University of Cincinnati (BA, 1948), she came to the United Kingdom in 1948 to study at Oxford University and voted for Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party candidate in that year's American Presidential election. She gained an English MA on Jacobean drama (specifically on the masques of Inigo Jones) at University College London in 1951.

She met Benn over tea at Worcester College in 1949 and nine days later he proposed to her on a park bench in the city. Later, he bought the bench from Oxford City Council and installed it in the garden of their house in Holland Park. In June 1999, on their golden wedding anniversary, she put on the red striped dress she had worn that night. She had four children - Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua, and ten grandchildren. She was also known as Carol within her family, and Pixie to her husband.

Benn devoted her life to comprehensive education and was co-founder of the Campaign for Comprehensive Education. She sent her own children to Holland Park School, one of the first comprehensive schools in...
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