Arnold Bennett

Enoch Arnold Bennett (1867 - 1931)

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Enoch Arnold (Arnold) Bennett
Born in Hanley,Staffordshire, England, United Kingdommap
Ancestors ancestors
Son of and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Died in London, England, United Kingdommap
Profile last modified | Created 22 Jan 2015
This page has been accessed 303 times.

Categories: Authors | Playwrights | Journalists | British Notables.

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Enoch Arnold Bennett was an English writer. He is best known as a novelist, but he also worked in other fields such as journalism, propaganda and film.

Enoch Bennett, his father, qualified as a solicitor in 1876. In 1908 The Old Wives' Tale was published and was an immediate success throughout the English-speaking world. After a visit to America in 1911, where he had been publicised and acclaimed as no other visiting writer since Dickens, he returned to England where 'The 'Old Wives' Tale was reappraised and hailed as a masterpiece.

"His father was a pawnbroker. Close friend of H.G. Wells. He went to London originally to be a solicitor's clerk. After winning a literary competition, he became a full-time writer. He wrote short stories, novels, hit plays, and screenplays. During his lifetime, his books sold in huge numbers, and he was a figure of great influence in politics and culture. He declined a knighthood for his service running the French propaganda department for the British government during WWI. The Savoy Hotel in London still serves an omelet named after him; it features smoked haddock and Parmesan cheese." [1]

"He engaged a charming and accomplished young French woman as his part-time secretary; and on July 4, 1907, Mlle Marguerite Soulié became Mrs. Arnold Bennett... His stamme... continued to torment him. Few realized the exhaustion it cost him to speak,' Somerset Maugham noted. 'It tore his nerves to pieces'..." [2]

"After the war, Bennett gave up his country house, his mother having died in 1914, and seperated from Marguerite in 1921. He formed a 'marital understanding' with an actress Dorothy Cheston. who was twenty-five years younger(she later changed her surname, by deed-poll, to 'Bennett'). The union was 'open' and fraught. In 1926, when their only child, Victoria, was being born, Bennett wrote to Dorothy on the subject of her two, simultaneously running, lovers. 'No doubt normal husbands', he dryly observed, would regard it as quite proper for you to have two men at once and leave our baby in my charge... But I am abnormal.'" [3]

"He was a literary giant, but when it came to recording the date of Arnold Bennett's death, somebody made a grave mistake... I'll let the former chairman of the Arnold Bennett Society, author John Potter, tell you:

'I guess what you're referring to is the error over the date of his death,' says John. 'The only explanation I can give is that the handwriting of whoever provided the information to the stonemason was so bad that the last digit appeared as a 9 instead of a 7. Unfortunately, the information on the only memorial to one of the world's greatest novelists will forever remain inaccurate.'

The great Potteries man of letters was born in Hanley on May 27, 1867 and he died in London on March 27, 1931. So is there a bigger story about how the stonemason carved the date of his death as the 29th?

'There was quite a family tussle after Bennett died,' John explains. 'He and his wife Marguerite had been separated for many years but they never divorced, despite him having what we would call a common law marriage with the actress Dorothy Cheston. You could say it was a family at war; Dorothy wanted to keep the ashes in London while Marguerite and the rest of the Bennetts wished to have the remains interred alongside his mother at Burslem. In any event, the ashes remained at Golders Green Cemetery for four months before they were brought home. Perhaps the mistake was made because of this time lapse.'

It's quite a story, one that Bennett could easily have written with his proclivity for irony. Burslem Cemetery is full of such stories. 'Cemeteries were made for the local historian ' says Steve Birks, himself the writer of one of the best history sites on the web..." [4]


  1. "IMDb: 'Arnold Bennett'"
  2. "'Six Modern British Novelists', by George Stade; Columbia University Press; USA; 1980, p. 18"
  3. "Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives', by John Sutherland; Profile Books; London, UK; 2011, p. 266."
  4. "Stoke Sentinel: 'Our history in grave peril', September 15, 2008."

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