Benson, E(dward) F(rederic) (1867–1940)
British novelist, essayist, and biographer, who published 80
works, including some of the most eerie and horrific short stories
on occult themes ever written. ‘‘The Room in the Tower’’
and ‘‘Mrs. Amworth’’ have become classic vampire stories.
Born July 24, 1867, at Wellington College (where his father
E. W. Benson was headmaster, before becoming archbishop of
Canterbury), he was educated at Marlborough, and at King’s
College, Cambridge University. He worked at Athens for the
British Archaeological School, 1892–95, and in Egypt for the
Hellenic Society, 1896; he also traveled in Algiers, Egypt,
Greece, and Italy. He was elected mayor of Rye, Sussex,
1934–37, living at the famous Lamb House that had been the
residence of American novelist Henry James for 18 years. He
was an honorary fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and
was also made a member of the Order of the British Empire for
his services to literature.
His best-known fiction works were the series about social
climber ‘‘Lucia Pillson,’’ later dramatized on British radio and
television. His short stories on horror and fantasy themes
showed him to be a master of the macabre. He died February
29, 1940.
An E. F. Benson Society has been organized in Britain, arranging
social and literary events relating to Benson and his
writings, and publishing the journal Dodo (named for one of his
early novels) for members. Address Allan Downend, 88 Tollington
Park, London N.4., England.
Sources
Benson, E. F. The Collected Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson. Edited
by Richard Dalby. New York Carroll & Graf, 1996.
———. The Horror Horn, and Other Stories. Edited by Alexis
Lykiard. London Panther, 1974.
———. More Spook Stories. London Hutchinson, 1934.
———. The Room in the Tower, and Other Stories. London
Mills & Boon, 1912.
———. Spook Stories. London Hutchinson, 1928.
———. Visible and Invisible. London Hutchinson, 1923.
Masters, Brian. The Life of E. F. Benson. London, Pimlico,
1991.