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Mapp and Lucia, the Queen and I. By Gyles Brandreth

Regulars | By Gyles Brandreth

Lucia (Geraldine McEwan) and Mapp (Prunella Scales), 1985

I love E F Benson’s novels – and so does Camilla

Which came first – the good egg or the bad egg? The bad egg, it seems. The expression, describing a ne’er-do-well, superficially appealing but rotten inside, was coined by Samuel A Hammett in his 1855 novel, The Wonderful Adventures of Captain Priest. The idiom took off, but it was another 40 years before its converse, the good egg, came on the scene. There was a time when Camilla Parker-Bowles was seen as a bad egg by some. Today, I’d say, most people reckon Queen Camilla is a good egg and a very good egg, too. I realised she was definitely my kind of good egg when I discovered we shared a passion for the six Mapp and Lucia novels, written by E F Benson between 1920 and 1939. The books are beautifully observed, wittily waspish social comedies about the aspirations and pretensions of two very different but equally formidable ladies...

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