E. F. Benson (1867-1940) was a prolific novelist, dramatist, short story writer, and biographer. He wrote biographies of Sir Francis Drake, Alcibiades, Ferdinand Magellan, Queen Victoria, and Charlotte Bronte. The son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a bit eccentric, he studied archaeology at Kings College, Cambridge, and served as Mayor of Rye near the end of his life.
Lucia's Progressby E. F. Benson
Benson's first novel was Dodo (1893), which was an instant success, and followed it with a variety of satire and romantic and supernatural melodrama. He repeated the success of Dodo with the same cast
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English novelist, biographer, memoirist, archaeologist and short story writer, best known now for the Mapp and Lucia series, written relatively late in his career.
Benson's first novel was Dodo (1893), which was an instant success, and followed it with a variety of satire and romantic and supernatural melodrama. He repeated the success of Dodo with the same cast of characters a generation later: Dodo the Second (1914), "a unique chronicle of the pre-1914 Bright Young Things" and Dodo Wonders (1921), "a first-hand social history of the Great War in Mayfair and the Shires".
Benson was also known as a writer of atmospheric, oblique, and at times humorous or satirical ghost stories, which were often first published in story magazines such as Pearson's Magazine or Hutchinson's Magazine, 20 of which were illustrated by Edmund Blampied. These "spook stories", as they were also called, were then reprinted in collections by his principal publisher, Walter Hutchinson. His 1906 short story, "The Bus-Conductor", a fatal-crash premonition tale about a person haunted by a hearse driver, has been adapted several times, notably in 1944 (in the film Dead of Night and as an anecdote in Bennett Cerf's Ghost Stories anthology published the same year) and in a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. The catchphrase from the story, "Room for one more", even spawned an urban legend, and also appears in the 1986 Oingo Boingo song, "Dead Man's Party".
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".
Benson's David Blaize and the Blue Door (1918) is a children's fantasy influenced by the work of Lewis Carroll. "Mr Tilly's Seance" is a witty and amusing story about a man flattened by a traction-engine who finds himself dead and conscious on the 'other side'. Other notable stories are the eerie "The Room in the Tower" and "Pirates".
Benson is also known for 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.
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This novel continues the adventures of Lucia and Mapp in the village of Tilling. We encounter all of the usual characters of the village: Mapp, Lucia, Georgie, Diva, Mrs. Poppitt, Lady Ambermere and Pug. In this installment, Lucia is turning fifty-years old and realizes that she has not accomplished a single stellar act in her whole life. She has managed to keep busy with her charitable affairs and in community activities, but she feels unfulfilled. Her attempts to maintain intellectual control over the people in the village seems to be on the wane. Of course there is her music and the various courses she sets up for all the neighbors, but that isn’t enough. What finally hits her as a valuable effort is to run for councilperson on the village board. It seems that Miss Mapp – now married – has the same idea, and they plan to run on totally opposite platforms. The subtle humor endemic to Benson’s novels continues in the vein of P. G. Wodehouse, but much more subtle. It’s a good introduction to the wry English humor of the time.