Eric Benfield was born on 9 June 1902 in Swanage, Dorset, the third of the four children of Charles Benfield (1866-1936) and Adelaide Benfield née Smith (1868-1943). His birth was registered in the 3rd quarter of 1902 in the Wareham registration district, Dorset.
He was shown as a school boy on the 1911 census return form completed by his father, living in five rooms at Mill Pond, Swanage, with his parents and three siblings: Lilian Benfield (b.1897), Arthur Benfield (1898-1918) and Vera May Benfield (1904-1994). His father described himself as a stonemason.
His younger brother, Arthur, was killed in action whilst serving as a Private in the 1st Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment, on 18 September 1918 in France.
His marriage to Maud Curtis (1903-1952) was registered in the 4th quarter of 1922 in the Wareham registration district and they had three children: Hazel Benfield (b.1923), Charles Arthur Benfield (1926-1996) and Mary Benfield (b.1927).
We learn from the Open Democracy website that he started work as a stone-worker in the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset and that he left his invalid wife and three children to live with the author Kathleen Nesta Knight Wade (1903-1986). In the 1939 England and Wales Register he is described as a sculptor & author at 5 Alexandra Cottages, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, the home of Albert Morris, a bricklayer and his wife Annie C. Morris.
He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a writer of many books, some of which are listed on the Amazon website. From Wikipedia: "The former Park Prewett Mental Hospital was the setting for the novel Poison in the Shade (1953), by Eric Benfield, a local author and sculptor who worked as an art therapist at that hospital."
He suffered a paralysing stroke, and eventually committed suicide by shooting himself, aged 53 years, on 7 December 1955, his death being registered in the 4th quarter of 1955 in the Basingstoke registration district, Hampshire. He was buried on 13 December 1955 in the parish of Worth Matravers, Dorset.
Probate records show that he had lived 8 Newnham Road, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hampshire, and that when administration with a will was granted on 30 May 1956 to his three children: Hazel Bugler, Charles Arthur Benfield (who was described as a chemist) and Mary Cave, his effects totalled £827-1s-11d.
Credit for this entry to: Andrew Behan.