Elizabeth Mayall Bennett
Elizabeth Mayall Bennett (1918-1991) • Elizabeth Mayall first met Gurdjieff in Paris in August 1948 and in January 1949 she went to live in Paris, to work closely with him, where she stayed until November 22. In 1958, Elizabeth and John Bennett married and together they continued to work with what they received from Gurdjieff and to find ways of sharing it with those younger than themselves. With Bennett’s death in 1974, Elizabeth, along with Anthony Blake and Michael Sutton, took on the task of continuing the Fourth Course and then directing the Fifth Course at Sherborne.
In 1980 Elizabeth published Idiots in Paris, a collection of her and Mr. B’s accounts of the months preceeding Gurdjieff’s death on October 29, 1949. Elizabeth’s part of “Idiots” (the bulk of the book) is a detailed report of what was really happening during that time, a very good recollection of journeys vividly structured and reported. In her notes you find memories of the dinners and lunches — rituals, at Rue des Colonels Renard in Paris, with the ‘toast of the idiots’ — meticulously recorded and clarifying. One very impressive description made by Elizabeth is her personal experience of Mr. Gurdjieff’s death:
“We arrive at the chapel a little before six. I had not meant or wished to see his body;… I was overwhelmed by the force that came from him. One could not be near his body without feeling unmistakably his power. He looked magnificent; composed, content, intentional, for want of a better word. Not simply a body placed by someone else. He was undisguised, nothing was concealed from us. Everything belonging to him, his inner and outer life and all the circumstances and results of it, were there to be seen, if one could see. What force there was in him then! I have never seen anything in any way like it.”
Elizabeth Bennett died on August 22 1991, at the age of 72.