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DiscussãoE. F. Benson

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Fev 28, 2008, 1:05 pm

Can I introduce myself: name's Alistair from South Queensferry, Scotland - nickname "Siriami", have been interested in Fred Benson for about 20 years now, and managed to collect nearly all his novels etc.
Was a member if the now-defunct "Tilling Society", based in Rye, Sussex, where Fred lived for many years, and which is immortalised in the Mapp & Lucia novels as "Tilling".
Have a website devoted to the TV version of "Mapp & Lucia":

and my collection of Benson books can be accessed here:

Look forward to many interesting discussions here in the future.
Au reservoir

Fev 28, 2008, 1:07 pm

Hello Siriami,
nice meeting you!

Fev 29, 2008, 7:45 am

Many thanks for sharing this, Alistair. I believe that there are/were at least two other E.F. Benson / Tilling groups but that in true Bensonian style they have fallen out, and do not talk to each other!

Fev 29, 2008, 9:25 am

Also an introduction:

I'm Julia, originally from Chicago, now a Londoner for the last two years. I've read and re-read all the Mapp and Lucia books, as well as Tom Holt's books. Right now I have the Dodo Omnibus in my to-read pile. Any opinions on that book?


Editado: Fev 29, 2008, 10:12 am

Thank you, guyfs, for the invitation. I have to confess (in my cult it is compulsory), that outside of a couple of ghost stories, I have read no E.F. Benson. In fact, I am more familiar with brother Hugh, but only as Reverend Bobugo Bonsen - Corvo's "banausic priest". I have meant to read the Mapp and Lucia books over the years.... perhaps this will initiate the jolt.

Fev 29, 2008, 10:12 am

Hello, Julia, and welcome.

I'm a Londoner myslef, though I have also lived in Paris and Abu Dhabi at different times.

I have read Dodo itself, but am not familiar with the omnibus. What else is in it?

Incidentally, I don't know if you are familiar with the story of what happend when Benson was finally embrassed by his friends into writing to apologise to the society hostess on whom everybody knew (though he denied it) he had based the character of Dodo. In a response worthy of Lucia she wrote: "Dear Mr Benson, have you written a book? I had no idea. How clever of you." This was all the more witty as Dod had been a massive best-seller and all of London was talking about it.

Fev 29, 2008, 6:53 pm

Thank you, Guy, for inviting me. I'm an Australian Lucia fan, interested in recommendations for other books by E.F. Benson.

Fev 29, 2008, 8:42 pm

Oh how wonderful to see you here, pamelad!!!!!

Guy, did you invite tiffin? She is a super fan of E.F.Benson.

Fev 29, 2008, 9:09 pm

I was invited too. I want to demonstrate my knowledge of Italian, but I've only read the first two Lucia books (and that was a while ago) and haven't yet gotten through Miss Mapp.

Mar 1, 2008, 6:07 am

Tiffin now invited! Hope she'll join us.

Mar 1, 2008, 8:46 am

Many thanks to guyfs for inviting me into this group.

The Mapp and Lucia books are the only Benson works that I've read so far. I can see that I'll have to look into the others: I shall be particularly interested to sample the ghost stories.

Mar 2, 2008, 5:36 am

Thanks for the invitation to this group. Am I the only member from the US? Here are the Benson books I've read:

105 By What Authority? by Robert Hugh Benson (read in fall of 1942)
200 Queen Victoria, by E. F. Benson (read 14 July 1945)
202 Queen Victoria's Daughters, by E. F. Benson (read 25 July 1945)
1140 Abraham Lincoln, by Godfrey Rathbone Benson Lord Charnwood (read 25 Nov 1971)
2858 Confessions of a Convert, by Robert Hugh Benson (read 7 Apr 1996)
3804 Mother, by E. F. Benson (read 18 Sep 2003)
3817 Final Edition, by E. F. Benson (read 24 Oct 2003)
3923 Lord of the World, by Robert Hugh Benson (read 19 Aug 2004)
3943 Come Rack! Come Rope! by Robert Hugh Benson (read 11 Oct 2004)
4053 Hugh Memoirs of a Brother, by Arthur Christopher Benson (read 3 Aug 2005)

I know, or presume, No. 1140 does not belong in this list, but I have not deleted it since maybe there is some connection to the Benson family to which E.F. belongs?

Mar 2, 2008, 6:00 am

Oh, you poor thing, Schmerguls. Haven't you discovered the Mapp and Lucia books? What a treat you have in store. My recoomendation would be to start with Miss Mapp and leave Quenn Lucia and Lucia in London for later. You can quite easily go back to them without haveing lost out on anything at all.

And no, there are lots of US members here already. In fact, I am beginning to think there may be more E.F. Benson fans in the States than in England. Perhaps the TV series was shown over there?

Mar 2, 2008, 9:10 am

Happy to join the EFB group. It's some time since I last visited Rye, but the Quaint Irenes and Daisy Quantocks were still abundant. My 11 year old daughter has just started to read Mapp and Lucia, and has to keep stopping because she is laughing too much.
You can't beat English comedies of manners. In their own way, Richmal Crompton's William stories (stick with the 1920s-1930s collections) complement Lucia remarkably well!

Mar 2, 2008, 2:40 pm

Thanks for the invitation to join this group. I'm a huge EF Benson fan, mostly the Mapp & Lucia books, but have also read Secret Lies and Paying Guests, neither showing up in touchstones.

I picked up my first Mapp and Lucia book at a library seconds sale just because I had vaguely remembered seeing the series on PBS. The woman running the sale turned out to be a fan, and she gushed over my choice. After reading the first one, I went on line and purchased the rest of the series, then the two books previously mentioned. His other books are not always that available, and not up to M&L standars, but they are good reads.

I tried to get my friends to read the books, but for the most part they read only NYT best sellers, so I enjoyed them all by myself (except for the library woman, who always reminds me that she remembers my purchase) until LT when a member contacted me after seeing my catalog where all the books received 5 stars, and we emailed back and forth a couple of times.

I haven't re-read the series yet, as I'm always on something else, but they're on my bookshelf, and I know that when I need something to brighten my say, M&L are there waiting.

I look forward to reading posts.

Mar 5, 2008, 9:07 am

Thanks for the invitation, Guy! I've read the Mapp and Lucia books several times and have the Ghost stories, which I now have an incentive to return to and reread. I look forward to sharing them.

Mar 6, 2008, 2:18 am

Paying Guests is in 30 Librarything libraries, including my own. There is a retired army officer character who is very like Major Benjy - I have often wondered if they were both based on someone Benson knew. His biography does not offer any clues.

Mar 6, 2008, 12:28 pm

Au Res, Benson Fans!

I first read Benson's "Queen Lucia" in 1997, and since then I've been hooked. They're some of the select few books I own that I periodically re-read.

I live in Chicago! I'm a married, sometime-writer semi-artistic type. My main hobby is lolling around the house. My goal is to one day be a housewife so that I can loll around full-time.

Mar 6, 2008, 2:15 pm


The Dodo Omnibus includes Dodo, Dodo the Second, and Dodo Wonders. I haven't read it yet, but it's near the top of my tbr pile.

Mar 7, 2008, 5:45 am

Thanks for the invitation!

I love the Mapp and Lucia books - they're are, in fact, the only books I've ever re-read. Aside from those, the only other E.F. Benson book I've read is The Blotting Book, although my library also contains As We Were, An Autumn Sowing, Desirable Residences, Mrs Ames, Secret Lives and The Freaks of Mayfair. For those of you who've read far more E.F. Benson than I have, which of those should I move to the top of my TBR pile?

Mar 7, 2008, 7:43 am

Since Guy has now sent me two invitations, I thought I'd better join, too, although I'm afraid it will distract me from my petit-point.

I'm more of a Wodehouse fan than a Tillingite, really, but I do enjoy the Mapp/Lucia stories, and get a lot of pleasure out of my Folio Society set.

Mar 7, 2008, 8:14 am

Lucky you, thorold!!!! The Folio Society set is not VERY difficult to find!

Mar 7, 2008, 1:03 pm

Thanks for the invite!

I love the Mapp and Lucia books and own them and the TV series on DVD. My next goal is to get hold of the 2 books by Tom Holt!

Mar 8, 2008, 5:44 pm

Dear miss read,

Start with The Freaks of Mayfair and Mrs Ames. They both have characters that are reflective of Lucia, Georgie and Mapp.

Mar 10, 2008, 7:48 pm

I am very pleased to be a new member of this group. I have been reading the Mapp-Lucia books for over 30 years. I think the Holt books are entirely in the spirit and style of Benson's originals: one longs for more, but it is difficult to imagine Tilling in the depths of war despair--the world of the Tillingites did indeed disappear. I read the books in sequence at least once a year, usually during the summer when I am in the country and can sit on the terrace looking toward the Rocky Mountains alleviating, with the blinkered cosiness of Riseholm and Tilling, the tedium of majestic scenery. During the glacial Canadian winters I look at the television episodes which continue to grow on me. One of the characters I never could fully visualize until I saw the portrayal on television was Susan Wyse. I can forgive Geraldine McEwan's rather twee conception of Miss Marple, because of her near-perfect realisation of Lucia. The Dodo books bore me distraction.

Mar 11, 2008, 3:15 am

Yes, I too re-read them once a year. As for more Mapp and Lucia stories, watch this space because my own "Major Benjy" should be puiblished this summer, though there are still some legal niceties to tie up.

Editado: Mar 18, 2008, 6:21 pm

Greeting from Janesville, WI, USA. Another cofession - I've not ready the M&L books, but discovered Benson's ghost stories when I ordered a book of his because I thought that a) He wrote the Monkeys Paw and b) He was M. R. James. That's how I wound up with Collected Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson. Good to say I now know my WW Jacobs from my EF Benson from my MR James.
Are M&L anything like Woodehouse? Those I have read - my next cat will be named Empress of Blandings.

Editado: Mar 19, 2008, 2:53 am

Welcome, Ann Louise and no problems about M&L. Quite a few of our members are devotees of the ghost stories instead. I happen to like both.

It might be a little misleading to compare Fred to Wodehouse because the humour is very different. Imagine a rather camp, bitchy Jane Austen looking out of his living room window and creating little acid drops about his neighbours ...

Mar 19, 2008, 6:33 am

> my next cat will be named Empress of Blandings

Won't that be rather confusing for the poor thing? If it grows to the size of the Empress, I think you might need to reinforce your sofa a bit. Wouldn't "Webster" be a safer bet?

Mar 20, 2008, 10:18 am

By the by - how many people here are also on the Yahoo Benson group? (

- from Universehall, who is also Serena Lomond on the Yahoo group.

Mar 20, 2008, 10:26 am

I would definitely say that the M&L books are not much like Wodehouse. In my mind, anyway, Wodehouse is more about word-play - the M&L books are character-based humor. I've laughed out loud at Wodehouse, but never at Benson. Which is not to say that Benson isn't funny at all - quite the opposite - it's just a quieter, "brings a smile to the corners of your mouth" funny.

Mar 20, 2008, 1:35 pm

Thanks for the invitation, guyfs. To celebrate I have just bought my first ever Mapp & Lucia book. I know, I know - what have I been doing for the last 50 years? They are books that have lain at the edge of my vision but always just out of easy reach. I have some catching up to do.

I have got an old Penguin of EFB's memoirs on my tbr shelf. That can wait.

Mar 21, 2008, 8:58 am

Thank you for the invitation, guyfs. I've read The Blotting Book and the Mapp and Lucia books. When I was a teenager, I found The Blotting Book in a bin of books and bought it for $1. I read it then searched for the Mapp and Lucia books. Those opened the door to Jerome K. Jerome then Wodehouse and later Waugh. Anyway, thanks again.

Mar 23, 2008, 6:24 am

Welcome! I blush to admit that I have never read the Blotting Book, but couldn't stand the embarrassment after hearing about it on this group, and so have ordered it.

For those embarking on the M&L books, could I recommend starting with Miss Mapp? Queen Lucia can be rather hard going and you can always come back to that and Lucia in London later.

Mar 23, 2008, 6:25 am

Hello, Serena.

I am, and I believe Siriami is too.

Mar 24, 2008, 4:29 am

>24 18rabbit:

Thanks for the recommendations, 18rabbit!

Mar 25, 2008, 5:39 pm

Thank you, guyfs, for the invitation to join. I read all of the Mapp and Lucia books a few years back and plan to read them again soon, I hope. I have yet to explore the other novels (or Waugh or Wodehouse I am ashamed to admit). Benson does 'bring a smile to the corners of your mouth' every time.

Mar 29, 2008, 4:12 am

Thank you guyfs for the invitation. Although I must admit it has been several years since I have read any of my E.F. Benson books. But I do think of trying to locate them every few months, but am easily distracted by something I haven't seen for ages; and perhaps even adding more. All the books I have have been stumbled across, rather then deliberately looked for. This has given the incentive to go searching.

Mar 30, 2008, 6:40 am

Thank you for the invitation, guyfs. I've loved Mapp and Lucia for years (and the TV series, I agree with mcoy that Geraldine McEwan can be forgiven for Miss Marple when Lucia was so perfect). I've also read some of Benson's other books, but I'm ashamed to say that I don't remember what, except that they weren't funny. I didn't know he'd written ghost stories, or about Tom Holt's books.

With membership of this group I can foresee a new obsession looming - I'll get hooked and have to read everything by E.F. Benson. There are obviously lots of treats in store.

I'm interested in the Corvo connection with his brother that benwaugh mentions, too.

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