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

Jacques Eldin

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It is with regret and sadness that we report the recent death of our Vice President Jacques Eldin. Jacques was Arnold Bennett’s son-in-law. Jacques leaves his son – our President Denis Eldin – and his daughter Monique and her family. 

The funeral will take place on Thursday 17 June.
You will find the details on this website

So you can think about Jacques. Please take into account the time difference!

This picture was taken when a plaque was unveiled at Villa les Néfliers in Avon,Fontainebleau, France, where Bennett completed the writing of The Old Wives’ Tale on August 30th 1908.  The picture features Jacques in the garden with Gyles Brandreth.

Here is Jacques’ speech on October 11th 2008 in the garden at Les Néfliers:

“My purpose here is to make a few quotations of Bennett explaining his circumstances in Fontainebleau.

On April 23rd 1908 my father-in-law to be settled with his new French wife Marguerite in the Villa Les Néfliers: “On Thursday last…” – you can reference this in his Journals which are full of very precise notations… “we moved into our new house – Villa Les Néfliers, Avon. By Monday morning we were sufficiently straight for me to resume my novel.”

We had lived before this in Les Sablons – another part of Fontainebleau – but had failed to renew the lease. “And it’s interesting – the reasons why this lease was not renewed. Madam Loubaire  withdrew her offer to let the house, with a garden of vegetables and fruit, for 1000 Francs a year. You multiply by 14 to get that an approximate sum in Euros. In other words: the lease was to be 14,000 Euros a year. She shied at the vegetables and fruit. I would not give way. So we most amicably and affectionately agreed to part.” 

He was a young man of 41, full of energy, who loved to take long walks in the forest. “Six miles this morning in the forest in fitful sunshine. When I looked about me I wondered that I could have endured three months in the city. Large spaces of sky. The river – rapid and in flood, isolating many trees.”

He also convinced Marguerite and two friends – the Marriotts – to go on some bicycle trips. On one instance they did about 60 kilometres a day – which proved a little too much for her, who had never cycled before. “We returned today from a three-day bicycle tour: Tuesday Pithiviers, yesterday Chateau Landon near Beaumont, today home via Nemours. Total expense: 49 francs 15 cents.”

From his Journal one gathers he was happy – both as a young married man (he had married Marguerite the year before in July) and a very prolific writer. It was in Les Néfliers that he finished, on August 30th 1908, his masterpiece The Old Wives Tale – which he had started in October 1907. In other words, it took him less than ten months to write it all. Of course: he had been thinking about it a lot – if you read the Journal in the previous year you can see that he went to the Potteries to document things etc etc.

He was very proud of having written his 200,000 words in such a short time on top of his other, numerous, writing activities. He was writing articles for the newspapers and so on. “Finished The Old Wives Tale at 11.30am today – 200,000 words. Now I can begin to keep this journal again.”

Thank you.”

Carol and I have sent a letter of condolence and best wishes to Denis and his sister Monique on behalf of their friends in the Arnold Bennett Society. 

Ray Johnson (Chairman)

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