Lucia and the Egyptian Amulet: A Short Story in the Style of E.F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia Novels, plus Scholarly Tilling Revelations and a Miniaturist's Model Garden-Room by M.A. Erki

In this slim volume you will find a short story, which has at its heart Egyptian archaeology, a topic that had been all the rage in the Interwar Years, after the discovery of King Tutankhamen's burial chamber in 1922. The story is written in the style of E.F. Benson's beloved Mapp & Lucia novels. Three scholarly revelations follow, two giving some background to settings in the Tilling novels, and one discussing Benson's use of jewellery in the Mapp & Lucia novels to illustrate the tremendous social changes in post-Victorian Britain. Finally, the last chapter discusses the construction of a 1:12 model of the garden-room, based primarily on descriptions given in Benson's Tilling novels.


1885, E.F. Benson's sister, Margaret Benson, became the first woman to be given permission to conduct an excavation in Egypt. She worked for three seasons at the Temple of Mut in Karnak, 1885 to 1887, until ill health forced her to stop. That story is itself fascinating. Margaret and Fred Benson, while both highly educated in the classics and university graduates, were also amateur archaeologists. Fred had focused his archaeological work in Greece, but he nonetheless went to Egypt to help his sister at the Temple of Mut. Based on his experiences at his sister's excavations, Fred wrote a novel, "The Face in the Sand" and several short stories that he called "spook" stories. However, given the huge interest surrounding Howard Carter's sensational find of King Tut's tomb in 1922, it is surprising that in his Mapp and Lucia books, which were published between 1920 and 1939, Fred makes very little mention of ancient Egypt. I was inspired by this omission to write the short story, "Lucia and the Egyptian Amulet”.

Following the short story are three chapters, or what might be thought of as, three scholarly revelations from the Tilling books. To begin, the garden-room, which was the setting of so much of the action in the Tilling books, was destroyed by enemy bombing in 1940. Originally part of Lamb House, now a National Trust property, the garden-room has not been rebuilt. Also lost from Lamb House, and another important setting in the Tilling books, is the secret garden.

I wanted to know more about both these settings, which resulted in the first scholarly revelation presented. Then, intrigued by the references to jewellery throughout the Mapp and Lucia novels, I realised that through jewellery, Benson revealed a great deal about social classes and changes in those interwar years. This is the topic of the second scholarly revelation.

This final scholarly revelation arose from an assignment for a course that I took in 2019 at the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, South Carolina. The course was a study of the manor houses in England, developed and given by the lecturer, Curtis Estes. The house that I chose to research was Leasam House that, in the book "Miss Mapp", Benson called Ardingly Park. This was where the Prince of Wales was said to have spent his Sunday, when he passed through Tilling.

The final chapter of this book describes a 1:12 scale model of the garden-room that my husband and I built in 2019-2020. We paid close attention to the descriptions of the garden-room in the Tilling novels and added our own small changes that we felt were in keeping with how Lucia and Georgie might have done things in the future. All those characters and stories do live on in our imaginations, which is E.F.Benson's special gift to his many readers worldwide.

About the Author:

MA. Erki will be familiar to TI Life readers, known as Marie-Anne Erki, our official online artist and illustrator for the past three years. Marie-Anne is a retired full professor and former Head of Civil Engineering at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), and also as the author or co-author of more than 100 publications in refereed journals, conference proceedings, and books. She is also the second author of six books of translations of modern Urdu poetry.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BL23L4SL
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kerr House Publishing (October 30, 2022)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 30, 2022
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 10437 KB
  • Simultaneous device usage ‏ : ‎ Unlimited
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 71 pages
  • Customer Reviews: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Lucia and the Egyptian Amulet, front cover