Biography of Arnold Bennett

Photo of Arnold Bennett

Arnold Bennett was an early twentieth century novelist most known for his “Clayhanger” series.

When and Where was Arnold Bennett Born?

27th May 1867, Hanley, Staffordshire, England.

Family Background:

Arnold Bennett was the son of a Solicitor and eldest of nine children.

Education:

Middle School, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire. University of London. Trained to be a Solicitor.

Timeline of Arnold Bennett:

1893: Originally Bennett trained as a solicitor hand and becomes a solicitor’s clerk but then turns to journalism and becomes the Assistant Editor of the Journal “Woman”.

1896: He becomes Editor of “Woman”.

1898: Bennett publishes his first novel “The Man from the North”.

1902: He moves to Paris where he is to spend ten years writing.

1907: On the 5th July he marries Marguerite Soulie at the Mairie of the 9th Arrondissement, Paris. (Formally separated 23rd November 1921).

1908: Bennett continues writing novels and his “Anna of the Five Towns”, which expresses the gritty realism of life in the Potteries is published.

1910: The first part of the “Clayhanger” series, on which much of his later fame was to rest, is published followed by “Hilda Lessways” in 1911 and “These Twain” in 1916. These books again reflected life in the five Staffordshire towns that chiefly made up the Potteries. His play, written in conjunction with Edwards Kniblock, was very popular and performed many times.

1914: Soon after the outbreak of the First World War a meeting is held by Charles Masterson, the Head of the War Propaganda Bureau at Wellington House, to discuss with leading authors of the day how best to promote Britain’s interests Also present were such names as H.G. Wells, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling. Bennett quickly becomes one of the main members of this organisation. He writes an article “A Statement of the British Case” for the United States newspaper the “Saturday Evening Post.” This was later turned into a pamphlet. George Bernard Shaw, unaware of the War Propaganda’s Bureau’s secret, attacked the quality of British writing at that time and Bennett is called upon to defend it.

1915: Bennett tours the battlefields of the Western Front and is totally shocked by the conditions he sees there. He was physically ill for many weeks afterwards. Still he continues with his propaganda work and writes the pamphlet “Over there: War Scenes on the Western Front” which was an attempt to encourage new recruits into the British Army.

1918: Lord Beaverbrook, the new Minister of Information, recruites Bennett and Masterson to the British War Memorial Committee. It was their task to select artists to produce paintings, which reflected well on the cause.

1920-30: After the war Bennett returned to writing novels and also worked as a literary critic and reviewer. In the “New Age” magazine he used the alias “Jacob Tonson”.

When and Where did he Die?

27th March 1931, London, England.

Age at Death:

63.

Written Works:

1898: “A Man from the North”.
1902: “Anna of the Five Towns”. “The Grand Babylon Hotel.”.
1908: “The Old Wives Tale”.
1912: “Clayhanger”.
1911: “Hilda Lessways”. “The Card”.
1912: “Milestones” (Play).
1913: “The Great Adventure” (Play).
1916:  “These Twain”.
1919:  “Sacred and Profane Love”.
1923:  “Riceyman Steps”.
1930:  “Imperial Palace”.
1926:  “Lord Raingo”. (Political novel).
1932:  “Journals”.

Marriage:

5th July 1907 to Marguerite Soulie at the Mairie of the 9th Arrondissement, Paris.
Formally separated 23rd November 1921.
Had a daughter later by his former secretary and lover Dorothy Cheston.

Site of Grave:

Cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and ashes interred in Burslem Cemetery, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.

Places of Interest:

STAFFORDSHIRE:

Hanley and Stoke-on-Trent.