Benson, E(dward) F(rederic) (1867-1940)

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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.


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.

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Edward Frederic Benson

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