Over the period that the three-part series Mapp and Lucia was shown on BBC1, visits to the Friends of Tilling website increased from 100-200 a week to over 2,000. The society organises an annual gathering in Rye to celebrate EF Benson and the characters from the books. Founders Jonathan Dunlop and Darren Reynolds have been working long hours to deal with queries from all over the world, since the programmes were aired.
Many of the inquiries have been about availability of the books and, in particular, the short stories Tom Holt has written especially for the society: Great Minds in 2006 and Humble Soup in 2014. In the mid-eighties, Tom Holt, now a successful and prolific author working in other genres, wrote two finely crafted sequels to EF Benson’s Mapp and Lucia books; Lucia in Wartime and Lucia Triumphant. These are excellent reads for anyone craving another fix of Tilling.
Dunlop told us “the website had needed an update for a while and we decided to coordinate the relaunch with the new TV adaptation. It’s a good job we did given what happened to our traffic, as our old site wouldn’t have been able to cope.”
Annual membership of the Friends of Tilling costs £10 and includes copies of the Tom Holt short stories. This year’s gathering will be on September 5 and consists of lunch, a walk to Benson’s grave and a grand finale dinner with readings and un po di musica at the Mermaid Inn.