Benson, Edward Frederic

Benson, Edward Frederic

Benson, Edward Frederic, 1867-1940, English author; 3d son of Archbishop Benson. He wrote several biographies and reflections on contemporary society, but he is chiefly remembered for his lightly satirical novels, notably Dodo (1893) and the series about Lucia Pillson, the first of which was Queen Lucia (1920). His archaeological work in Athens (1892-95) resulted in two novels on Greece, The Vintage (1898) and The Capsina (1899).
Edward Frederic Benson (July 24, 1867February 29, 1940) was an English novelist, biographer, memoirist and short story writer, known professionally as E.F. Benson. His friends called him Fred.


E.F. Benson was born at Wellington College in Berkshire, the fifth child of the headmaster, Edward White Benson (later Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral, Bishop of Truro and Archbishop of Canterbury), and Mary Sidgwick Benson ("Minnie"), who was described by Gladstone as the 'cleverest woman in Europe' and after her husband's death set up a lesbian household with Lucy Tait, daughter of the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, Archibald Campbell Tait.

Benson was the younger brother of Arthur Christopher Benson, who wrote the words to Land of Hope and Glory, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, author of several novels and Roman Catholic apologetic works, and Margaret Benson (Maggie) an amateur Egyptologist. Two other siblings died young. E. F. Benson never married but there is no evidence that he was homosexual, though thought so by many people.

E. F. Benson was an excellent athlete, and represented England at figure skating. He was a precocious and prolific writer, publishing his first book while still a student. Nowadays he is principally known for his Mapp and Lucia series about Emmeline "Lucia" Lucas and Elizabeth Mapp.

The principal setting of four of the Mapp and Lucia books is a town called Tilling, which is recognizably based on Rye, East Sussex, where Benson lived for many years and served as mayor from 1934 (he moved there in 1918). Benson's home, Lamb House, served as the model for Mallards, Lucia's home in some of the Tilling series. There really was a handsome 'Garden Room' adjoining the street but, unfortunately, it was destroyed by a bomb in the Second World War. Lamb House attracted writers: it was earlier the home of Henry James, and later of Rumer Godden.

In London, Benson also lived at 395 Oxford Street, W1 (now the branch of Russell & Bromley just west of Bond Street Underground Station), 102 Oakley Street, SW3, and 25 Brompton Square, SW3, where much of the action of Lucia in London takes place and where English Heritage placed a Blue Plaque in 1994.

Benson died in 1940 of throat cancer in University College Hospital, London.


Benson's first book was Sketches from Marlborough. He started his novel writing career with the (then) fashionably controversial Dodo (1893), and he followed it with a variety of satire and romantic melodrama. The Mapp and Lucia series, written relatively late in his career, consists of six novels and three short stories. The novels are: Queen Lucia, Lucia in London, Miss Mapp (including the short story The Male Impersonator), Mapp and Lucia, Lucia's Progress (published as The Worshipful Lucia in the U.S.) and Trouble for Lucia.

The last three books were serialized by London Weekend Television for the fledgling Channel 4 in 1985–6 under the series title Mapp and Lucia and starring Prunella Scales, Geraldine McEwan and Nigel Hawthorne; the first four have been adapted for BBC Radio 4 by both Aubrey Woods and (most recently) Ned Sherrin; the fifth, Lucia's Progress, was adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 2008 by John Peacock. During 2007, the television series has had reruns on the British digital channel ITV3.

Benson was also known as a writer of ghost stories, which frequently appear in collections, and of a series of biographies/autobiographies and memoirs, including one of Charlotte Brontë. His last book, delivered to his publisher ten days before his death, was an autobiography entitled Final Edition.

H.P.Lovecraft spoke highly of Benson's works in his "Supernatural Horror in Literature", most notably of his story "The Man Who Went Too Far" .

A critical essay on Benson's ghost stories appears in S. T. Joshi's book The Evolution of the Weird Tale (2004).

Further "Mapp and Lucia" books have been written by Tom Holt and Guy Fraser-Sampson.


Mapp and Lucia books (also known as the Make Way For Lucia series)

  • Queen Lucia (1920)
  • Miss Mapp (1922)
  • Lucia in London (1927)
  • Mapp and Lucia (1931)
  • Lucia's Progress (1935, also known as The Worshipful Lucia)
  • Trouble for Lucia (1939)

Other novels

  • Dodo: A Detail of the Day (1893)
  • The Rubicon (1894)
  • The Judgement Books (1895)
  • Limitations (1896)
  • The Babe, B.A. (1897)
  • The Money Market (1898)
  • The Vintage (1898)
  • The Capsina (1899)
  • Mammon and Co. (1899)
  • The Princess Sophia (1900)
  • The Luck of the Vails (1901)
  • Scarlet and Hyssop (1902)
  • An Act in a Backwater (1903)
  • The Book of Months (1903)
  • The Relentless City (1903)
  • The Valkyries (1903)
  • The Challoners (1904)
  • The Angel of Pain (1905)
  • The Image in the Sand (1905)
  • The House of Defence (1906)
  • Paul (1906)
  • Sheaves (1907)
  • The Blotting Book (1908)
  • The Climber (1908)
  • A Reaping (1909)
  • Daisy's Aunt (1910)
  • The Osbornes (1910)
  • Account Rendered (1911)
  • Juggernaut (1911)
  • Mrs. Ames (1912)
  • Dodo's Daughter (1913)
  • Thorley Wier (1913)
  • The Weaker Vessel (1913)
  • Arundel (1914)
  • Dodo the Second (1914)
  • The Oakleyites (1915)
  • Mike (also published as Michael) (1916)
  • David Blaize (1916)
  • The Freaks of Mayfair (1916)
  • An Autumn Sowing (1917)
  • Mr. Teddy (1917)
  • David Blaize and the Blue Door (1918)
  • Up and Down (1918)
  • Across the Stream (1919)
  • Robin Linnet (1919)
  • Dodo Wonders (1921)
  • Lovers and Friends (1921)
  • Peter (1922)
  • "And the Dead Spake--" and The Horror Horn (1922)
  • Colin: A Novel (1923)
  • David of King's (1924)
  • Alan (1924)
  • Expiation (1924)
  • Visible and Invisible (1924)
  • Colin II (1925)
  • Rex (1925)
  • A Tale of an Empty House (1925)
  • Mezzanine (1926)
  • Pharisees and Publicans (1926)
  • Paying Guests (1929)
  • The Inheritor (1930)
  • Secret Lives (1932)
  • Travail of Gold (1933)
  • Raven's Brood (1934)

Short Stories

  • Caterpillars (1912)
  • The Room in the Tower (1912)
  • The Countess of Lowndes Square, and Other Stories (1920)
  • Spook Stories (1928)
  • The Male Impersonator (1929)
  • More Spook Stories (1934)
  • The Confession of Charles Linkworth

See also

External links


  • Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers.
  • Vicinus, M. (2004). Intimate Friends: women who loved women (1778-1928). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Search another word or see benson, edward fredericon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature