Edward Frederic "E. F." Benson (24 July 1867 – 29 February 1940) was an English novelist, biographer, memoirist, archaeologist and short story writer.
E. F. Benson was born at Wellington College in Berkshire, the fifth child of Edward White Benson and Mary Sidgwick Benson ("Minnie"). Benson was educated at Temple Grove School, then at Marlborough College, where he wrote some of his earliest works and upon which he based his novel David Blaize.
E. F. Benson never married, and is speculated to have been homosexual. Proponents of this theory point to what they consider the implicit (though admittedly critical) homoeroticism of his university works such as David Blaize (1916), his appreciation of the qualities of young men, as in "The Blotting Book" (1908), and his friendships with admitted homosexuals such as John Ellingham Brooks with whom he shared a villa in Capri. 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.
Benson died in 1940 of throat cancer at the University College Hospital, London. He is buried in the cemetery at Rye, East Sussex.
Links to Rye, East Sussex
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, Mapp's — and for a short while Lucia's — home in some of the Tilling series. There really was a handsome "Garden Room" adjoining the street but 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. He donated a Church window of the main parish church in Rye, St Mary's, in memory of his brother, as well as providing a gift of a viewing platform overlooking the Town Salts.