Lamb House: From Henry James to Mapp & Lucia
When Henry James called his home, Lamb House, “The Temple of the Muse,” he hardly knew how fitting the title would be. James rented, then purchased, the brick Georgian house in the picturesque seaside town of Rye, East Sussex in 1897, then, went on to write many of his best-known novels there. James dictated The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors, and The Golden Bowl, to name but a few, to his secretary, while pacing back and forth in the 18th Century Banqueting House, known as the Garden Room, which adjoined the main building.
If this weren’t literary pedigree enough for one building, E. F. Benson succeeded James as the occupant of Lamb House in 1916, and not only wrote his beloved Mapp and Lucia novels inside its walls, but also set them there as well. Rye became the fictional “Tilling,” and Lamb House became “Mallards,” whose parallel universe is thinly, if deliciously, disguised. Benson’s heroine Elizabeth Mapp sits in her home “like a great spider behind the curtains in the Garden Room, spying on her friends,” while Lucia Lucas plots to become the Mayor of Tilling, and to take its greatest prize for her own, Mallards itself.
Join Country Life and Vanity Fair contributor Patrick Monahan for a virtual visit to what is probably England’s most beloved little literary house!