First Impressions: Benjamin Disraeli on Mary Anne Wyndham Lewis

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'I was introduced by particular desire to Mrs Wyndham Lewis, a pretty little woman, a flirt and a rattle, indeed gifted with volubility I should think unequalled and of which I can convey no idea. She told me she liked silent, melancholy men. I answered that I had no doubt of it.'

Benjamin Disraeli met Mary Anne Wyndham Lewis at a soiree at Bulwer Lytton's house on 27 April 1832. She was 12 years his senior and was married to one of his parliamentary colleagues, Wyndham Lewis. When they married in 1839 it was largely for Disraeli's financial convenience, but to everyone's surprise they fell in love and it was an extremely happy union.

Mary Anne's devotion was complete. Once Disraeli accidentally shut the coach door on her finger as he disembarked in the courtyard of the House of Commons. She made no sound, not wishing to disturb his concentration before he entered to make a speech. In later years he used to joke that he had married her for her money. 'Ah,' she replied, 'but if you had to do it again, you would do it for love.'