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Arnold Bennett

English Novelist

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About Arnold Bennett

British novelist

Arnold Bennett was a true man of the Potteries. He was born in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. The eldest of nine children, his father was a practising solicitor and his mother came from a Derbyshire farming family. By the standards of the day, the family were comfortably off, all the children attended school, and the young Arnold was expected to follow in his fathers foot-steps in becoming a solicitor. However, he failed his London University exams and settled down to life as a solicitors clerk.

By 1893 Arnold had become increasingly dissatisfied with his daily toil, as a child he had entered and won a literature competition. Over the years he continued with his writing, occasionally submitting articles to periodicals and magazines. In a bold move he switched careers to become assistant editor of "Woman" magazine, and so began a career that was to span forty years and put him on the map as a foremost English novelist, playwright, essayist, journalist and celebrated critic. He was a man of contradictions, he never forgot his roots (his first novel was called A Man from the North) yet he enjoyed to the full the fruits of his labours, especially his yacht, the Valsa. He travelled widely, spent eight years living and working in Paris, and when he returned to England it was with a French wife. Arnold Bennett married actress Marguerite Soulie in 1907, the marriage was not to last and the couple divorced in 1921. Whilst in France he mixed with the great and the good, including Stravinsky, Ravel and Ivan Turgenev. In London, he numbered amongst his friends - J.M.Barrie, Thomas Hardy, Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy and Joseph Conrad. He was immortalised with his dog in a cartoon by Sir William Nicholson (1872-1949). Arnold was a prolific writer, in his lifetime he turned out 30 novels, over 3,000 articles, 10 plays and numerous other writings.

Bennett's first-hand knowledge of working and middle class life in the Potteries is vividly portrayed in his novels known as the Five Town's sequence. The novels begin with Anna of the Five Towns, these works took almost twelve years to complete and perfectly depict life as it was when Bennett was young. His famous "Old Wives Tale" is set around Burslem, London and Paris, it is the story of middle-class sisters in biographic form and was his initial success. Other successes include Buried Alive which was made into a film and the Clayhanger trilogy.

Arnold Bennett was a kindly, humorous man, he was tolerant of others, and had immense compassion and realism, all of which is said to show through in his works. To his many friends, it was not surprising when in 1918 he turned down the offer of a Knighthood.

When he died of Typhoid in London in 1931, he was taken back to Burslem where his ashes lie buried in a peaceful churchyard.

Other famous people alive at the time of Arnold Bennett

Sir Richard Francis BurtonBorn 19th March 1821, died 20th October 1890 aged 69
Agatha ChristieBorn 15th September 1890, died 12th January 1976 aged 85
Sir Winston ChurchillBorn 1874, died 1965 aged 91
Frederick DeliusBorn 29th January 1862, died 10th June 1934 aged 72
Edward ElgarBorn 2nd June 1857, died 23rd February 1934 aged 76
Robert HawkerBorn 3rd December 1803, died 15th August 1875 aged 71
Lillie LangtryBorn 13th October 1853, died 12th February 1929 aged 75
C S LewisBorn 29th November 1898, died 22nd November 1963 aged 64
Peter Mark RogetBorn 18th January 1779, died 12th September 1869 aged 90
Queen VictoriaBorn 24th May 1819, died 22nd January 1901 aged 81

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