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Literature / Mapp And Lucia

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Emmeline "Lucia" Lucas (Anna Chancellor) and Elizabeth Mapp (Miranda Richardson) from the 2014 television adaptation.

The Mapp and Lucia novels (also known as the Make Way for Lucia series) are a series of social comedies published by E.F. Benson from 1920 to 1939. They detail the rise of wealthy English socialite Mrs. Emmeline Lucas (known to her friends as Lucia) as she dominates the social landscape in the town of Riseholme (and, in the later novels, Tilling).

The first novel, Queen Lucia (1920), set in Riseholme, introduces the characters of Lucia and her right-hand man, Georgie Pillson.

The second novel, Miss Mapp (1922) pivots away from Lucia and introduces Miss Elizabeth Mapp (Lucia's eventual arch-nemesis) and her social circle in the town of Tilling.

The third novel, Lucia in London (1927) returns its focus to Lucia as she takes up temporary residence in a fashionable London house for the summer season.


The fourth through sixth novels, Mapp and Lucia (1931), Lucia's Progress (1935), and Trouble for Lucia (1939) see Lucia (along with Georgie) moving to Tilling and facing off against Miss Mapp.

The three final books of the series were adapted for television by Channel 4 in 1985, starring Geraldine Mc Ewan as Lucia, Prunella Scales as Mapp, and Nigel Hawthorne as Georgie.

A three-part television adaptation of the fourth novel aired on BBC TV in December of 2014. It starred Anna Chancellor as Lucia, Miranda Richardson as Mapp, and Steve Pemberton (who wrote the adaptaion) as Georgie.

The series has inspired a number of spin-off novels written by other authors as well as two radio adaptations.


Mapp and Lucia contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Major Benjamin Flint spends most of his evenings drinking (though he says he is working on his Indian diaries). When he and Mapp gets married, she tries to temper his drinking, only to result in Benjy becoming a binge drinker whenever he is unsupervised.

  • Ambiguously Gay: E.F. Benson himself was this, and a number of his characters embody this trope.
    • Georgie Pillson. Played up in the 2014 adaptation. Ends up marrying Lucia at the end of Lucia's Progress, though their relationship is explicitly stated to lack a physical component.
    • "Quaint" Irene Coles. She is stated in the novels to have a "rather embarrassing" crush on Lucia, whom she showers with terms of affection. She bursts into tears when she learns that Lucia is marrying Georgie.
    • Stephen Merriall in Lucia in London.

  • Awesome McCoolname: The aristocratically-named Algernon Wyse and his sister Amelia, the Contessa di Faraglione.

  • Bait-and-Switch: In the 2014 television adaptation, the Tillingites (including Mapp) believe that the Prince of Wales is driving through town. They chase the car waving miniature flags, Mapp even falling in the street just as the car stops, revealing the passenger to be none other than Lucia.

  • British Humour: An incisive send-up of 1920's and 30's small town British snobbery.

  • British Stuffiness: A number of these.
    • Susan Poppit, MBE. Embodies this trope even more after marrying the aristocratic Algernon Wyse, when she begins wearing furs and being chauffeured about in her Rolls Royce instead of walking to do her shopping on the High Street like the other women of Tilling.
    • Lady Cornelia Ambermere of Riseholme, a superior, dour aristocrat who remains aloof towards most of the town.
    • Averted with Olga Bracely, the wealthy opera singer who (though a part of wealthy and fashionable social circles) is genuinely kind and unpretentious towards Georgie, the people of Riseholme, and even Lucia, who is continually aloof towards her.

  • Butt-Monkey: The series has a few of these. Daisy Quantock of Riseholme constantly tries to usurp Lucia's leading position in the town only to be soundly defeated at each turn. Diva Plaistow of Tilling spends most of her time in all adaptations as Elizabeth Mapp's verbal punching bag.

  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Most of the Tilling characters fall under this trope, but Diva Plaistow is especially loose-lipped. When Lucia wishes to unofficially announce her engagement to Georgie to her friends in Lucia's Progress, she sends a confidential note to Diva.

  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Diva Plaistow and her sardine tartlets. Despite this, she ends up opening the most successful tea shop in Tilling.

  • Deadpan Snarker: Quaint Irene, who brags of being the only person in Tilling to speak plainly.

  • Dodgy Toupee: Georgie Pillson has one. His friends in Tilling and Riseholme are all aware of his baldness, but they are polite enough to pretend not to notice.

  • Door Judo: When Lucia is renting Mallards and leaves the chain up so that Mapp will stop walking into the house uninvited, Mapp charges through the door, tearing out the chain, screws and all. Lucia has a new, stronger chain installed.

  • Drop-In Character: Mapp tries to be this to Lucia. (After all, Lucia is staying her her house.) Lucia puts a stop to it.

  • Embarrassing First Name: "Dear Mrs. Plaistow, christened Godiva. Such a handicap, but we're all devoted to her."

  • Escalating War: The fourth novel and both television adaptations highlight the increasingly aggressive and hostile attempts by Mapp and Lucia to one-up each other and reign over Tilling. By the end of the series, Lucia, originally just a summer tenant of Mapp's house, owns said house (which she renames from "Mallards" to the more stately "Mallards House"), has earned a sizable fortune from stock investing, sits on most committees in Tilling, and has been elected mayor. Mapp, on the other hand, is relocated to a house outside of the town limits. It's safe to say who the victor is.

  • Funny Foreigner: The Guru from Queen Lucia, though Lucia, Georgie, Daisy, and the townsfolk take him quite seriously. Subverted in the revelation that he is a curry-cook from London on the run from the law.
    • Played straight in the 2014 television series.

  • Fun with Foreign Languages: Lucia, her husband Philip, and Georgie are all fascinated with Italian, despite not being fluent in the language outside of a few, simple sentences, but they all pretend to be fluent around their friends. This backfires when an Italian composer comes to stay at Riseholme in Queen Lucia.
    • Becomes a major plot point in Mapp and Lucia, when Lucia and Georgie are confronted with the possibility of entertaining Mr. Wyse's sister, the Italian Contessa di Faraglione. Mapp attempts to use this opportunity to prove her suspicion that Lucia and Georgie don't actually speak Italian. She fails, thanks to some quick thinking from Georgie.
    • By the time of Lucia's Progress, Elizabeth and Benjy (now the Mapp-Flints) honeymooned in France, where they learned the language. Elizabeth intersperses French phrases and words into her speech to combat Lucia and Georgie's Italian.
    • Major Benjy learned Hindustani during his time in India, and summons his household staff by shouting, "Quai hai!"

  • Naked People Are Funny: In the second novel, Mapp walks in on Irene's art studio when she is painting nude subjects. Mapp's reaction and subsequent avoidance of Irene are played for laughs.

  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Mapp regularly terrorizes the shop owners in the High Street of Tilling.

  • The Vicar: The Reverend Kenneth Bartlett of Tilling.

  • Yes-Man: A number of these exist in the series.
    • Philip Lucas, Lucia's husband, exists entirely to enable her every whim. His death in-between Lucia in London and Mapp and Lucia leaves this position open for Georgie.
    • Stephen Merriall serves as one to Lucia during Lucia in London.
    • Subverted with Georgie Pillson. In his first two book appearances, he is capable of resisting Lucia's demands to the point of antagonism. By the time they move to Tilling, Georgie does go along with her schemes, but he does offer arguments to some of Lucia's more wild schemes (not that she listens). He is a far more willing Yes Man for Olga Bracely than for Lucia.
    • Major Benjy somewhat unwillingly becomes this to Mapp after they get married.

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