The study and appreciation of the life, works and times of Arnold Bennett

Welcome to the Arnold Bennett Society Website

Born Enoch Arnold Bennett, on 27 May 1867 in Hanley, Arnold left the ‘Potteries’ for London at the age of 21.  After the publication of his first novel, A Man From The North, in 1902 he never returned to live permanently in the Potteries, but his early life there inspired the ‘Five Towns’ novels and short stories for which he became famous.  In London Bennett worked first as a solicitor’s clerk and then for the periodical Woman, before giving up salaried employment to become a full-time writer.  He later moved to France and married a frenchwoman, Marguerite Soulie.  The Old Wives’ Tale, considered his masterpiece, was published in 1908 and written while the couple was living in Fontainebleau.  They returned to England and Bennett turned his talents to the war effort, with propaganda, committee work and a significant post in the Ministry of Information.  After the War his fiction was almost exclusively set in London and Riceyman Steps won the recently established James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1924.  Bennett’s marriage failed and he formed a relationship with actress Dorothy Cheston with whom had one child, Virginia.  He died at home in his Marylebone apartment of typhoid in 1931.

Bennett was an incredibly prolific writer.  His diverse output included over 30 novels (serious and popular), short stories, plays, poetry, journalism, theatre and even libretti.  He has been compared to Dickens in terms of popularity in his day.  The Society was founded in 1954 and continues to promote Bennett’s legacy and expand his readership today.

Quote from Dorothy Whipple’s diaries 1930 – 1940

“I got ‘Arnold Bennett’s Journal’ out again. I must buy it. It is like a big substantial cake, you can cut and cut again, and keep in the cupboard without it’s ever going stale”

Source: AB Society member Kate Smith

When Laurence Olivier was interviewed by Sheridan Morley, Noel Coward’s biographer, Olivier said this:

[Noel] gave me a sense of balance, of right and wrong. He would make me read; I never used to read anything at all. I remember he said, “Right, my boy, Wuthering Heights, Of Human Bondage and The Old Wives Tale.  That’ll do, those are three of the best. Read them”. I did.’  

Source: AB Society member Professor John Bourne.


Would you like to become a member of the Arnold Bennett Society?

  • Receive a 40 plus page newsletter 3 times a year
  • Attend various events that are held throughout the year
  • Attend our annual AGM
Click here to become a member