Mapp and Lucia

Mapp and Lucia is a collective name for a series of novels by E. F. Benson, and also the name for two British television adaptations based on those novels.

The novels

The novels feature humorous incidents in the lives of (mainly) upper-middle-class British people in the 1920s and 1930s, vying for social prestige and one-upmanship in an atmosphere of extreme cultural snobbery. Several of them are set in the small seaside town of Tilling, closely based on Rye, East Sussex, where Benson lived for a number of years and (like Lucia) served as mayor. Lucia previously lived at Riseholme, based on Broadway, Worcestershire, from where she brought to Tilling her celebrated recipe for Lobster à la Riseholme.

"Mallards", the home of Miss Mapp—and subsequently Lucia—was based on Lamb House in Rye. The house had previously been the residence of Henry James and had a garden room overlooking the street (unfortunately a German bomb destroyed the Garden Room in World War II. The rest of the house is now a National Trust property.)

The novels, in chronological order, are:

The first three books concern only the protagonist named in the title; the last three feature both Mapp and Lucia.

In 1977 Thomas Y. Cromwell Company reprinted all six novels in a compendium called Make Way for Lucia. The order of Miss Mapp and Lucia in London was switched in the compendium, and a Miss Mapp short story called "The Male Impersonator" was included between Miss Mapp and Mapp and Lucia.

"Desirable Residences", one further short story featuring Miss Mapp, and previously having seen only one magazine printing in Benson's own time, was discovered by Jack Adrian in the 1990s and included in his collection of Benson stories, Desirable Residences.[1] A slight oddity about this very short piece is that the town of Tilling was called Tillingham in the original printing, according to Jack Adrian's introduction to his collection. The characters of Miss Mapp and Diva Plaistow are clearly recognizable, however, as are their desirable residences. Miss Mapp, for example here lives in "Mallards", the fictional Lamb House that was always the Queen Castle vied for by Mapp and Lucia.

The character Susan Leg, appearing briefly in Trouble for Lucia, first appeared as a major character in Benson's novel Secret Lives (1932), which is similar in style to the Mapp and Lucia books.[2]

Novels by other authors

There are also seven other books based on the same characters written by other authors.

Tom Holt wrote two sequels, published by Macmillan and Black Swan:

Guy Fraser-Sampson has written three additional novels the first published by Troubador, the second and third by Elliott and Thompson Ltd:

Richard Ellis

Ian Shepherd


Channel 4

The television series based on the three 1930s books, produced by London Weekend Television, was filmed in Rye and neighbouring Winchelsea in the 1980s, and starred Prunella Scales as Mapp, Geraldine McEwan as Lucia, Denis Lill as Major Benji Flint, and Nigel Hawthorne as Georgie. There were ten episodes, (which aired in two series of five) broadcast on Channel 4 in 1985 and 1986.


A three-part adaptation written by Steve Pemberton was broadcast on BBC One on 29-31 December 2014. [3]


  1. Benson, E. F.: Desirable Residences and Other Stories, Selected by Jack Adrian. Oxford University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-19-212304-1. Reprinted from Good Housekeeping, February 1929.
  2. Benson, E. F.: Secret Lives, 1932
  3. "BBC announces adaptation of EF Benson's Mapp and Lucia". Retrieved 3 May 2014.

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