E. F. BENSON
Edward Frederic (Fred) Benson was a novelist who wrote more than 100 books in his lifetime (1867 - 1940 ).
He made his home in Rye in the later years of his life and found small town life completely to his liking.
(Left) A young author in his prime (Centre) An older Fred on the steps of his beloved Garden Room at Lamb House (Right) Fred and a page from Mapp and Lucia
A brief biography:
E F BENSON
July 24th 1867 – February 29th 1940
Edward Frederic Benson is remembered today mainly for his witty, delightful and affectionately caustic series of 6 novels featuring his unforgettable characters Elizabeth Mapp and Emmeline Lucas (“Lucia”).
Four of the novels were set in “Tilling”, Benson’s name for Rye, and many recognisable landmarks can be found there. Fred lived in Lamb House, Rye (called “Mallards House” in the novels) for the last 20 years of his life, and was also three times Mayor of the town from 1934 - 1937.
He also contributed many gifts to Rye, supplying the funding for the viewing platform/belvedere at the east end of the High Street and also donating two stained glass windows to St. Mary’s church.
Benson's father was Archbishop of Canterbury (1883 – 1896), and both his brothers were also writers. Arthur, his elder brother is best remembered for his words to “Land of Hope & Glory”. Hugh, his younger brother, was deeply religious, and a devout Catholic, writing many tracts during his lifetime.
Fred’s sister, Maggie, was a renowned archaeologist.
During his lifetime Fred wrote over 100 novels, short stories and - surprisingly - many ghost stories, some of which are nowadays considered to be classics in that genre.
His 6 “Mapp & Lucia” novels:
Queen Lucia (1920)
Lucia in London (1922)
Miss Mapp (1927)
Mapp and Lucia (1931)
Lucia's Progress (1935) published in the U.S. as The Worshipful Lucia
Trouble for Lucia (1939)