68 Facts About Arnold Bennett


Enoch Arnold Bennett was an English author, best known as a novelist who wrote prolifically.


Arnold Bennett wrote articles and stories for more than 100 newspapers and periodicals, worked in and briefly ran the Ministry of Information in the First World War, and wrote for the cinema in the 1920s.


Arnold Bennett worked for his father, before moving to another law firm in London as a clerk, aged 21.


Arnold Bennett became assistant editor and then editor of a women's magazine, before becoming a full-time author in 1900.


Arnold Bennett spent ten years in France, marrying a Frenchwoman in 1907.


Arnold Bennett died in 1931 of typhoid fever, having unwisely drunk tap-water in France.


Arnold Bennett strongly believed that literature should be accessible to ordinary people, and he deplored literary cliques and elites.


Arnold Bennett's books appealed to a wide public and sold in large numbers.


Arnold Bennett was born on 27 May 1867 in Hanley, Staffordshire, now part of Stoke-on-Trent but then a separate town.


Arnold Bennett was the eldest child of the three sons and three daughters of Enoch Bennett and his wife Sarah Ann, nee Longson.


Enoch Arnold Bennett had an authoritarian side, but it was a happy household, although a mobile one: as Enoch's success as a solicitor increased, the family moved, within the space of five years in the late 1870s and early 1880s, to four different houses in Hanley and the neighbouring Burslem.


From 1877 to 1882, Arnold Bennett's schooling was at the Wedgwood Institute, Burslem, followed by a year at a grammar school in Newcastle-under-Lyme.


Arnold Bennett was good at Latin and better at French; he had an inspirational headmaster who gave him a love for French literature and the French language that lasted all his life.


Arnold Bennett did well academically and passed Cambridge University examinations that could have led to an Oxbridge education, but his father had other plans.


Arnold Bennett divided his time between uncongenial jobs, such as rent collecting, during the day, and studying for examinations in the evening.


Arnold Bennett began writing in a modest way, contributing light pieces to the local newspaper.


Arnold Bennett became adept in Pitman's shorthand, a skill much sought after in commercial offices, and on the strength of that he secured a post as a clerk at a firm of solicitors in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London.


In 1894 Arnold Bennett resigned from the law firm and became assistant editor of the magazine Woman.


Arnold Bennett continued work on his novel and wrote short stories and articles.


In 1896 Arnold Bennett was promoted to be editor of Woman; by then he had set his sights on a career as a full-time author, but he served as editor for four years.


Arnold Bennett began work on a second novel, Anna of the Five Towns, the five towns being Bennett's lightly fictionalised version of the Staffordshire Potteries, where he grew up.


In 1900 Arnold Bennett resigned his post at Woman, and left London to set up house at Trinity Hall Farm, near the village of Hockliffe in Bedfordshire, where he made a home not only for himself but for his parents and younger sister.


Arnold Bennett completed Anna of the Five Towns in 1901; it was published the following year, as was its successor, The Grand Babylon Hotel.


In January 1902 Enoch Arnold Bennett died, after a decline into dementia.


Arnold Bennett's widow chose to move back to Burslem, and Bennett's sister married shortly afterwards.


Life in Paris evidently helped Arnold Bennett overcome much of his remaining shyness with women.


Arnold Bennett did not begin work on that novel until 1907, before which he wrote ten others, some "sadly undistinguished", in the view of his biographer Kenneth Young.


In 1905 Arnold Bennett became engaged to Eleanor Green, a member of an eccentric and capricious American family living in Paris, but at the last moment, after the wedding invitations had been sent out, she broke off the engagement and almost immediately married a fellow American.


Drabble comments that Arnold Bennett was well rid of her, but it was a painful episode in his life.


In 1911 Arnold Bennett made a financially rewarding visit to the US, which he later recorded in his 1912 book Those United States.


Arnold Bennett concentrated his attention on journalism, aiming to inform and encourage the public in Britain and allied and neutral countries.


Arnold Bennett served on official and unofficial committees, and in 1915 he was invited to visit France to see conditions at the front and write about them for readers at home.


Arnold Bennett was still writing novels, however: These Twain, the third in his Clayhanger trilogy, was published in 1916 and in 1917 he completed a sequel, The Roll Call, which ends with its hero, George Cannon, enlisting in the army.


When Lord Beaverbrook became Minister of Information in February 1918 he appointed Arnold Bennett to take charge of propaganda in France.


Arnold Bennett sold Comarques and lived in London for the rest of his life, first in a flat near Bond Street in the West End, on which he had taken a lease during the war.


Arnold Bennett continued to write novels and plays as assiduously as before the war.


In 1922 Arnold Bennett met and fell in love with an actress, Dorothy Cheston.


Arnold Bennett has appeared as an actress, and produced and starred in a revival of Milestones which was well reviewed, but had only a moderate run.


Arnold Bennett had mixed feelings about her continuing stage career, but did not seek to stop it.


Arnold Bennett was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and his ashes were interred in Burslem Cemetery in his mother's grave.


Arnold Bennett admired some of the modernist writers of his time, but strongly disapproved of their conscious appeal to a small elite and their disdain for the general reader.


Arnold Bennett believed that literature should be inclusive, accessible by ordinary people.


Anthony Trollope, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy had created and sustained their own locales, and Arnold Bennett did the same with his Five Towns, drawing on his experiences as a boy and young man.


In writing about the Five Towns Arnold Bennett aimed to portray the experiences of ordinary people coping with the norms and constraints of the communities in which they lived.


Arnold Bennett is remembered chiefly for his novels and short stories.


Arnold Bennett presented the region as "the Five Towns", which correspond closely with their originals: the real-life Burslem, Hanley, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall become Bennett's Bursley, Hanbridge, Longshaw, Knype and Turnhill.


Arnold Bennett's fiction portrays the Five Towns with what The Oxford Companion to English Literature calls "an ironic but affectionate detachment, describing provincial life and culture in documentary detail, and creating many memorable characters".


In later life Arnold Bennett said that the writer George Moore was "the father of all my Five Towns books" as it was reading Moore's 1885 novel A Mummer's Wife, set in the Potteries, that "opened my eyes to the romantic nature of the district I had blindly inhabited for over twenty years".


Arnold Bennett's Lincoln's Inn friend John Eland was a source for Mr Aked in Bennett's first novel, A Man from the North ; A Great Man contains a character with echoes of his Parisienne friend Chichi; Darius Clayhanger's early life is based on that of a family friend and Bennett himself is seen in Edwin in Clayhanger.


Arnold Bennett has been criticised for making literary use in that novel of the distressing details of his father's decline into senility, but in Pound's view, in committing the details to paper Bennett was unburdening himself of painful memories.


Arnold Bennett's Lord Raingo, described by Dudley Barker as "one of the finest of political novels in the language", benefited from Bennett's own experience in the Ministry of Information and his subsequent friendship with Beaverbrook: John Lucas states that "As a study of what goes on in the corridors of power [Lord Raingo] has few equals".


Literary critics have followed Arnold Bennett in dividing his novels into groups.


Arnold Bennett published 96 short stories in seven volumes between 1905 and 1931.


Arnold Bennett's chosen locations ranged widely, including Paris and Venice as well as London and the Five Towns.


In 1931 the critic Graham Sutton, looking back at Arnold Bennett's career in the theatre, contrasted his achievements as a playwright with those as a novelist, suggesting that Arnold Bennett was a complete novelist but a not-entirely-complete dramatist.


Arnold Bennett is more interested in what his people are than in what they visibly do.


Arnold Bennett had more success in a final collaboration with Edward Knoblock with Mr Prohack, a comedy based on his 1922 novel; one critic wrote "I could have enjoyed the play had it run to double its length", but even so he judged the middle act weaker than the outer two.


Sutton concludes that Arnold Bennett's forte was character, but that the competence of his technique was variable.


Arnold Bennett wrote two opera libretti for the composer Eugene Goossens: Judith and Don Juan.


Arnold Bennett took a keen interest in the cinema, and in 1920 wrote The Wedding Dress, a scenario for a silent movie, at the request of Jesse Lasky of the Famous Players film company.


In 1928 Bennett wrote the scenario for the silent film Piccadilly, directed by E A Dupont and starring Anna May Wong, described by the British Film Institute as "one of the true greats of British silent films".


In 1929, the year the film came out, Arnold Bennett was in discussion with a young Alfred Hitchcock to script a silent film, Punch and Judy, which foundered on artistic disagreements and Arnold Bennett's refusal to see the film as a "talkie" rather than silent.


Arnold Bennett published more than two dozen non-fiction books, among which eight could be classified as "self-help": the most enduring is How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, which is still in print and has been translated into several languages.


Arnold Bennett never lost his journalistic instincts, and throughout his life sought and responded to newspaper and magazine commissions with varying degrees of enthusiasm: "from the start of the 1890s right up to the week of his death there would never be a period when he was not churning out copy for newspapers and magazines".


In 2006 Koenigsberger commented that one reason why Arnold Bennett's novels had been sidelined, apart from "the exponents of modernism who recoiled from his democratising aesthetic programme", was his attitude to gender.


Arnold Bennett dabbled in crime fiction, in The Grand Babylon Hotel and The Loot of Cities.


In 2017 the society instituted an annual Arnold Bennett Prize as part of author's 150th anniversary celebrations, to be awarded to an author who was born, lives or works in North Staffordshire and has published a book in the relevant year, or to the author of a book which features the region.


An omelette Arnold Bennett is one that incorporates smoked haddock, hard cheese, and cream.