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Any News? E.F.Benson (Sketch by Patrick Hamill)
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"Any News?" was the customary greeting exchanged between friends in Tilling when they required gossip; on, this is where, hopefully, news about E.F.Benson and his works will appear; this will only happen, of course, if we have some news to print!  If you see anything E.F.Benson related in the news, or if you are a publisher with a new E.F.Benson book release, please email us!  When sending in items for this page, please remember to clearly state where and when you saw the item, (if in a magazine or newspaper, please include the name of the author and the title of the magazine/newspaper; if possible, please also include the website of the publication)
Please do not, repeat NOT, submit items from either the Tilling Society Newsletter or from the E.F.Benson Society's mailings (including "The Dodo"; both are read by the team, and we don't want to tread on anyone's toes!
07-10-2009 The latest episode of the Radio Tilling podcast offers information about the ongoing Benson Window Appeal, being organised by the Friends of St. Mary's Church in Rye - the appeal aims to raise in excess of £70,000 to fund the repair and restoration of the West Window donatd by Fred in memory of his parents, and which features Fred in Mayoral garb in one corner!  The stonework surounding the window has been badly damaged by the weather (whic hhas not been helped by earlier repair efforts!) and, unles extensive restoration efforts are made soon, the window is at severe risk.  If you would like to contribute to the appeal, there is a form which you can print out (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) here
04-05-2009 As many of you may already know, Yahoo is closing down it's GeoCities free web page hosting service later this year; this has affected a number of Benson related sites which may no longer be available come this shutdown. is not directly affected by this as it is independently hosted on 'paid for' webspace (and if anyone could like to help out with the costs, please do click on the PayPal link located at the bottom of the home page!)
However, there will be a few changes and additions to the site; the team is working with a number of affected Benson sites to bring some of their content over here.  The first 'new' content is already online - the Contemporary Reviews section, researched by Nancy Thompson and presented here with her kind permission, and which features a number of, as you might expect, contemporary reviews of Fred's books and plays.

If you are the owner of a Benson related website that is currently hosted on Geocities, and you want your content to live on, please do get in touch - If isn't able to host your content, there are other solutions that might be more appropriate!

01-03-2009 Guy Fraser-Sampson will be talking about his Lucia novel "Major Benjy" at the Sunday Times sponsored Oxford Literary Festival in Festival Room 2, Christ Church on April 1st at 12pm - tickets cost £7.50 and more information can be found at the official Oxford Literary Festival website!
11-12-2008 BBC Radio 4 broadcast a reading of "Complimentary Souls" as part of their Afternoon Reading series "80 Not Out", where all the readers are over the age of 80!  The reader of this Benson story is Liz Smith, probably best known nowadays for her appeareinces in "The Vicar of Dibley" and "The Royle Family".
The reading should be available on the BBC Listen Again feature until (at the latest) Wednesday 17-12-2008...
05-10-2008 Apologies for the somewhat belated nature of this announcement, but there is a new 'Official" Mapp & Lucia novel, the first since the two Tom Holt books of the mid-eighties.
Entitled "Major Benjy", and set between "Miss Mapp" and "Mapp & Lucia", the book is written by respected author Guy Fraser-Sampson and published by Troubadour, and the EFBenson website team can wholeheartedly recommend it to all fans of the Mapp & Lucia series!  The book offers, amongst other startling and intriguing ideas, an explanation for the abrupt disappearence of Lucy from the Quaint Irene Coles household...
Major Benjy
The book can currently be found on Twistevant's First Floor book department, and can be ordered from and
06-04-2008 BBC Radio 4 is running an adaptation of "Lucia's Progress" this week (7th-11th April) with, according to the BBC website, much the same cast as before.  Sadly, Ned Sherrin passed away earlier this year, so adaptation duties have passed to John Peacock.  The adaptation, in 5 15 minute parts, will be broadcast as part of "Woman's Hour" (at approximately 10:45am) and repeated in the evening at 7.45pm) and will be available on the BBC's "Listen Again" feature for 6 days after first broadcast (the episode is usually put up after the 7.45pm repeat)
Cast details can be found here. (Many thanks to "Georgie" for the information!)
26-02-2008 There is a new E.F.Benson podcast, from the team!  Entitled "Radio Tilling", the first episode is online now; more details can be found at the "Radio Tilling" weblog!  The podcast has been submitted to iTunes and should be available on there soon - hopefully in time to mark the 68th anniversary of Fred's death (on February 29th)
26-04-2007 BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting the latest of the Ned Sherrin adaptations, "Mapp & Lucia" from Monday 30th at 9.45 BST and 19:45 BST (My thanks to Jonathan Dunlop for making me aware of this!) - the adaptation is in 10 parts and stars Belinda Lang as Lucia (Ms Lang took the role in the first two of Sherrins adaptations, Queen Lucia and Lucia in London), Nicola McAuliffe as Mapp (Ms McAuliffe is new to this role, though she has appeared in a great many film and TV roles, including the 'voice' of James Bond's car in "Tomorrow Never Dies"!) and the returning Nikolas Grace as the Narrator, with Michael Maloney as Georgie (Mr Maloney appeared with TV Lucia Geraldine McEwan (as Miss Marple) in the ITV adaptation of Agatha Christie's story "By The Pricking Of My Thumbs").  As with previous adaptations, "Mapp & Lucia" should be available on the BBC's "Listen Again" facility (requires RealPlayer) for upto 7 days from first broadcast - so set your recording equipment...  A link will be posted to the relevant page shortly; in the meantime, here is a link to the BBC Press Office page (scroll down for the "Mapp & Lucia" item) Hopefully we will, in due course, see the remaining novels adapted for radio; after which, perhaps the Tom Holt sequels could be considered?
14-11-2006 Although not directly about Fred, the following may well be of interest to fans of his Ghost or "Spook" stories!  Robert Lloyd Parry, of the Nunkie Theatre Company, is presenting the one man show "A Pleasing Terror - Two Ghost Stories by M.R.James" at the New End Theatre, Hampstead, London between the 16th and 31st December 2006 (the show is currently touring around the UK, full details on the Nunkie Theatre Company website!  There is also a favourable review of the production on the website of The Stage newspaper.
M.R.James was, of course, a contemporary of Fred, as well as being a friend (and, to some degree, a rival in the Ghost story stakes!)
Thanks for Robert for the information!
11-04-2006 At last, is proud to announce our DVD Competition!  If you would like to win one of three copies of the new "Mapp & Lucia" DVD set, kindly supplied by Network DVD then please Click Here
09-04-2006 Further to the news item below (24-03-2006), Network have very kindly provided with a review copy of their forthcoming "Mapp & Lucia" release - you can find the review here!  Also, watch this space for an exciting announcement soon!
24-03-2006 News about a new edition of the "Mapp & Lucia" DVDs!
Unfortunately, the 4 disc set of "Mapp & Lucia", the LWT/Channel 4 series from the 1980's and released (after much campaigning by The Tilling Society amongst others) by Granada, has gone 'out-of-print'.  All is not lost, however - Network DVD, who have issued a wide variety of sets featuring such classic British TV series as The Goodies, Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected, On the Buses, Ever Decreasing Circles and many more, are bringing out a new edition of the complete "Mapp & Lucia" series on 10th April 2006!
Watch this space for further information as we receive it!
19-02-2006 Benson Day in Lincoln has received the following from Cynthia Reavell of the Tilling Society:
We have news of a Benson Study Day which is to be held in Lincoln Cathedral's Wren Library on Saturday 9th of September 2006 - this is a collaborative event organised by the Cathedral Library and the Tilling Society, with talks about the family and its members, and representative readings from the works of each; it promises to be both stimulating and entertaining, and we very much hope many Tilling Society members will be there.  Speakers are to include Tom Burnett and Gail-Nina Anderson, both of them knowledgeable, experienced and entertaining speakers who have given much enjoyed after-lunch Tilling Society Gathering talks in the past (in 1995 and 1999 respectively).  The icing on the cake for anyone needing further persuasion is that Lincoln is a most splendid ancient city, and its Cathedral is particularly fine.  Those of you who were at the Tilling Society Lincoln weekend in 1998 will remember what a special venue this is.  And don't be put off by the designation 'Study Day' - the speakers and readers will be the ones to have done the studying, and all the audience has to do is to listen and enjoy.  We are also hoping that it may be possible for a tour of the Chancery (home for several years to the Benson family), although this is yet to be confirmed.  It's also an opportunity to meet up with other Bensonites and Tilling Society members over a light lunch and between times.
Please do note the date in your diary; and nearer the time, send an SAE (Stamped Addressed Envelope) and request for details from:
Nicholas Bennett,
Librarian, Lincoln Cathedral Library, The Cathedral,
(It's as well to be aware that the Library staff are mostly away on annual holiday during much of August)
Recent Annual Study Days have been on: Christopher Wordsworth, Bishop of Lincoln (2003); Philip Larkin (2004); Alfred Lord Tennyson (2005).  The 2006 price is not yet fixed but, to give you an idea, the 2005 event was £15 for the day, plus an optional £6 for a light sandwich lunch.
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16-02-2006 The Tilling Society is, alas, no more - Cynthia and Tony Reavell, who have run the society for many years, have decided to call it a day.  This leaves just The E.F.Benson Society still actively publishing a newsletter and recruiting members.

All is not lost, however - if anyone has information, articles, news or general gossip that they would previously have sent into The Tilling Society, please feel free to send it in to instead!  Space and time permitting, we will include it on this site - either (if relevant) on this 'Any News?' page, or elsewhere if possible!

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16.02.2006 Due to circumstances beyond our control, has, sadly, been rather neglected during 2003-5; however, things have now improved and hopefully the site will enter 2006 with renewed vigour and a gradually revealed new look!
There is a new contact address: (Mr Wanderlust is the Webmaster for!) - if you still have our old address in your address book, please replace it with this one!  We have also registered as a domain name - typing either or should take you to this website!
Throughout the course of 2006 we will be updating the look of the website, the first time we have done this since we started in 2000! 
We will be converting more and more sections to the new look throughout the year, with the aim of completing the revamp by December 2006 (if not earlier!)  We would particularly appreciate any constructive comments or suggestions about the new look which you might care to make - we want this site to be as usable and reader friendly as possible!
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21.02.2003 Tom Holt's highly entertaining follow-up to the Lucia novels, "Lucia in Wartime" has now been issued as an unabridged 'audiobook' by Isis Publishing.  The book, which is available on 5 cassettes or 6 CD's, is read by Norma West, who has appeared in numerous TV series, films and stage shows, including guest appearances in cult classic "The Prisoner", "Smiley's People", "Miss Marple" and "Poirot".
Isis Lucia In WartimeNorma West
The audiobook can be ordered direct from Isis Publishing
or from by 'clicking' on the cover image above
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21.05.2002 Another production of John van Druten's "Make Way For Lucia" has been announced!  This time the Bolton Little Theatre is the venue,  from June 15th to 22nd 2002.
Tickets, which range from £5.50 - £6.50, bay be ordered by calling the Box Office on 01204 524469 or Albert Halls Ticket Centre on 01204 334400.
Alternatively, email: or visit the theatre website:
The ticket price includes a free programme(!), and, following the performance on 22nd June, there is an optional supper available for £4.
The theatre address: Bolton Little Theatre, Hanover St., Bolton, BL1 2AR
(Thanks to Cynthia Reavell of The Tilling Society for the information, and for the flyer reproduced below!)
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06.01.2002 Possibly some good news for fans of the "Mapp & Lucia" series - apparently US publisher Moyer Bell, who did such an excellent job in reissuing the Benson books over the last few years, intend to reissue the well-received, but difficult to obtain Tom Holt sequels sometime in 2002!  The Moyer Bell website shows "Lucia Triumphant" as being in the Spring 2002 list (see the cover below) and sources close to the author confirm that he has been in discussions with them.  If the books ARE reissued, this is excellent news as the original Black Swan editions currently fetch very high prices on eBay and elsewhere; they also make frequent appearances in the "Bring and Buy" section of this website!.  In addition to the two 'Lucia' books (the aforementioned "Lucia Triumphant" and "Lucia in Wartime"), Tom Holt is the author of a large number of well received and highly popular 'comic fantasy' novels - more information about Mr Holt (including details of his other books) can be found here:

Moyer Bell cover for "Lucia Triumphant" (subject to change and confirmation)
('Clicking' on the cover picture will take you to the website, where the book is available for pre-order (at time of writing!))
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27.12.2001 Some sad news - It was reported this morning that Sir Nigel Hawthorne passed away on 26th December.  Probably best known for his role as "Sir Humphrey Appleby" in "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister", and for his outstanding performance in Alan Bennett's "The Madness of George III" (later filmed as "The Madness of King George"), Benson fans will fondly remember him as "Georgie Pilson" in the LWT/Channel 4 series "Mapp & Lucia", produced in the mid-80's.
Certainly, the series, which also starred Geraldine McEwen, Prunella Scales and Denis Lill. brought a great many new fans to Fred's works, and Sir Nigel's contribution was enjoyed by many.  He will be sadly missed.

There were a number of informative Obituaries in the UK National Newspapers;
The Daily Telegraph
The Guardian
The Times
The Independent

There are also a couple of web sites devoted to Sir Nigel and his work:
The Sir Nigel Hawthorne Fan Page
A Tribute to Sir Nigel Hawthorne

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22.07.2001 News of ANOTHER stage production based on the Lucia books,; this time of the John Van Druten
play "Make Way For Lucia".  Details as follows:
"The Graffham Rustics - based at Graffham near Petworth, West Sussex, will be staging John van Druten's "Make Way for Lucia" as their Autumn play. The Graffham Rustics now in their 50th year are an amateur group and have earned a reputation for well staged and entertaining productions over the years.

Make Way for Lucia will be staged at The Empire Hall, Graffham nr Petworth on Thursday, Friday, Saturday  8th, 9th, 10th of November 2001. Please contact or phone 07974 932335 for more details

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01.06.2001 Anyone who missed the production of "Mapp & Lucia The Musical" during it's short run at the Jermyn Street Theatre now has another chance - there is to be a run at the Greenwich Theatre, London from Monday 2nd July to Saturday 14th July 2001.  The theatre seats rather more than the previous venue, so there should be no excuse for not attending this time!
Tickets are £12, £14 and £16 (concessions £2 less).  Matinees are on Wednesdays and Saturdays, at 3pm - evening performances are at 8pm
Tickets are available from the box office (telephone: 020 8858 7755 or online at )
(Our thanks to Cynthia Reavell of The Tilling Society for this information!)
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16.04.2001 The first instalment of "Lucia In London" adapted by Ned Sherrin, was broadcast today on BBC Radio 4 - there are four parts to the adaptation - if you missed today's episode you can catch up with the remaining three on the next three Monday's at 11.30 am!
The cast is as follows:
(Click on the highlighted names to be taken to biographical information!  Please note that this will take you away from this page)
Lucia Belinda  Lang
Benson Nickolas Grace
Daisy Sarah Badell
Georgie Guy Henry
Mrs Boucher Gaye Brown
Olga Anna Quayle
Robert Alan Leith
Mrs Antrobus Elizabeth Morgan
Piggy Janice Cramer
Lady Ambermere Jean Trend
Adapted by Ned Sherrin Directed by Celia de Wolff

Both The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian had this as their 'Pick of the Day' for Monday (in their Saturday issues) - both used a picture of Belinda Lang;

(Left to Right - The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph (both Saturday 14th April 2001)

The Guardian -
"EF Benson's Mapp and Lucia books were the high water mark of camp 30's humour. The endless intrigues between arch social climber Lucia and bitter old bat Miss Map(sic), the two queen bees battling for supremacy in the tea party set of the quaint Sussex village of Riseholme, is comedy on par with Diary Of A Nobody.  Thank heavens, then, for Ned Sherrin's dramatisation of the best book in the series, Lucia in London (11.30am, R4)
Lucia, who has always scorned London life as shallow, has a change of heart after her husband inherits a house in Brompton Square, and she is as determined to rise to ascendancy in Kensington salons as she has done in Riseholme. But the competition is a little tougher. Belinda Lang (pictured) reads. WH"

Daily Telegraph -
"Gillian Reynolds' Choice
Lucia in London    (Radio 4,11.30 am)
EF Benson's sharp comedy of manners, adapted for radio by Ned Sherrin, stars Belinda Lang as the socially mobile Lucia who has now moved from sleepy Riseholme to London's bustling Brompton. Guy Henry plays her faithful best pal Georgie (he of the challenged coiffure). Nikolas Grace becomes the voice of Benson. Benson works well on radio. as previous versions have shown. Let's hope this one gets a swift repeat.
Elsewhere, the Bank Holiday impells Radio 4's drama to go all out for nostalgia."

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Thanks to The Tilling Society for supplying the following information about the 'West End' production of "Mapp & Lucia", the musical (Libretto by Peter Benedict, music by William Hetherington) which was first seen at a read through performance at The Theatre Museum!
The play, which has been a great success at all subsequent performances (which have included Kate O'Mara and Fenella Fielding) has a three week run at the Jermyn Street Theatre, near Piccadilly, London from Tuesday February 13th to Saturday March 3rd, with performances at 7.45 pm  Tuesday to Saturday, and a matinee performance (at 3pm) on Sundays  Tickets are £15 and can be booked by calling the box office of the Jermyn Street Theatre on 020 7287 2875

The cast features Aimi Macdonald as 'Lucia', Gaye Brown as 'Mapp' and Peter Gayle as 'Georgie', with Becky Barnes, Su Chandler, Iain Cowden, Paddy Glynn, Charles Grant, Ros McCutcheon and Richard Pescud.

Read the official press release (and see pictures of the cast) here!
Gaye Brown pops up in more Lucia related news - she is appearing in the long awaited Ned Sherrin BBC Radio 4 adaptation of "Lucia in London" which is to be broadcast in 4 30 minute episodes from Easter Monday (April 16th) at 11.30am.  Hopefully the BBC's marketing department will produce a cassette of this adaptation, which promises to be good - who knows, if it is a successful we may see more Benson on the Beeb!
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12.12.2000 Thanks to Anne Cowan for reporting the article in "The Times" concerning the Tenancy of Lamb House being available!  The annual rent levied by the National Trust (who retains ownership of the property in perpetuity) is £13,500 per annum.
Read the original Times article here.
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03.12.2000 Attending a preview of the British Museum Great Court, we noticed that, in the Reading Room list of "Notable holders of Reader's Tickets" was one E.F.Benson!  In a display of books by the aforementioned notable ticket holders were six of Fred's works - "A Reaping", the Penguin "Licia Rising" omnibus edition, the recent Prion "Mapp & Lucia", "King Edward VII", "Charlotte Bronte", and "Dodo".  They can be found on the right (as you enter the Reading Room from the South) Top of Page
12.11.2000 Belated we know, but an example of Fred's work has made an appearence in the Millennium Dome in London!  The E.F.Benson Webpage team visited on Sunday 12th November and one of the first things we saw was a huge 'video screen' type display depicting a set of bookshelves with filled with books surrounding the Learning Zone..  Being (we like to think!) typical Bensonites, we searched for a Benson book and found 'Lucia Rising', one of the Penguin paperback compilations of the "Mapp & Lucia" novels.  According to the Official Millennium Dome guide, the display features "more than thirteen thousand famiiliar books (which) entice us into the zone"
Nice to see that Fred's works are regarded as 'Familiar'!  The team took pictures (see below)
The 'Bookshelves' from a distance (to give some idea of the size of the thing!)  Now, where's Fred Benson...Let's zoom in a bit.  A-ha!  What's that sitting between Jilly Cooper and 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'?Closer still, and could that be a Benson book with a Penguin spine?Yes it is!  'Lucia Rising'!  Success!
1 - The 'Bookshelves' from a distance (to give some idea of the size of the thing!)  Now, where's Fred Benson...
2 - Let's zoom in a bit.  A-ha!  What's that sitting between Jilly Cooper and "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"?
3 - Closer still, and could that be a Benson book with a Penguin spine?
4 - Yes it is!  'Lucia Rising'!  Success!
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08.10.2000 Browsing the internet book shop bir Fred Benson titles, we noticed that Penguin appears to be about to reissue "As We Were: A Victorian Peepshow" early next year!  This is news to us, so we thought we would share it with you!
The release date, according to Amazon, is February 22nd, 2001.  The cover price appears to be £4.99 (although Amazon have it at a lower price).  No details on who designed the cover yet, but here is a copy for your interest. are taking pre-orders ('clicking' on the picture below will take you to the relevant page - alternatively, go to the Twistevants' page!
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25.07.2000  We have been mentioned in the 29 July-4 August issue of the Radio Times, a UK TV radio and TV listings magazine, in connection with an imminent broadcast on satellite TV of the excellent "Mapp & Lucia" series!
'Radio Times' cover - 24 July-4 AugustExtract from the Sites of the week column from the Radio Times (page 45)
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13.05.2000 Sirami (Alistair Kerr) reported to the Benson mailing list that he had 'Spotted on Amazon UK - "Mapp & Lucia" to be published in June 2000 by Prion Books (ISBN 1853753904). Hardcover - 320 pages'  Apparently Amazon did not have a cover picture of this new edition.  Watch this space... Top of Page
19.02.2000 According to the the Daily Mail newspaper, (thanks to Siriami (Alastair Kerr), and confirmed by the latest issue of the E.F.Benson Society's newsletter, Ned Sherrin is working on a radio adaptation of "Lucia in London" for BBC Radio 4.  No details on casting as yet, but there are apparently to be four, 30 minute programmes, to be broadcast early next year (2001).  Lucia hasn't been heard on the BBC since the Aubrey Woods adaptation of "Queen Lucia" way back in the '80's, so hopefully Mr Sherrin's work will inspire a burst of Luciaphils and Tillingites to appear!
More news on this when we receive it!
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