Enoch Arnold Bennett (May 27, 1867-March 27, 1931) was a British novelist.
He was born in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, one of six towns in the area known as the Potteries. Enoch Bennett, his father, had qualified as a solicitor in 1876 and had an office in Piccadilly Street, Hanley. The younger Bennett was brought up in modest surroundings and educated locally and at the University of London.
At age 21 Arnold, who worked as a rent collector, left his father's practice and went to London as a solicitor's clerk. He won a literary competition in "Tit Bits" magazine in 1889 and was encouraged to take up journalism full time. In 1894 he became assistant editor of the periodical "Woman". He noticed that the material offered by a syndicate to the magazine was not very good, so he wrote a serial which was bought by the syndicate for 75 pounds. He then wrote another. This became The Grand Babylon Hotel. Just over four years later his first novel A Man from the North was published to critical acclaim and he became editor to the magazine.
From 1900 he devoted himself full time to writing, giving up the editorship and writing much serious criticism, and also theatre journalism, one of his special interests. In 1902 Anna of the Five Towns, the first of a succession of stories which detailed life in the Potteries, appeared.
In 1903 he moved to Paris, where other great artists from around the world had converged on Montmartre and Montparnasse. Bennett spent the next eight years writing novels and plays. 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. During the First World War, he became Director of Propaganda at the War Ministry. He refused a knighthood in 1918. In 1926 at the suggestion of Lord Beaverbrook, he began writing an influential weekly article on books for the Evening Standard newspaper.
He separated from his French wife in 1922 but fell in love with the actress Dorothy Cheston, with whom he remained until his death from typhoid in 1931. His ashes are buried in Burslem cemetery. Their daughter Virginia Eldin lives in France and is president of the Arnold Bennett Society.
His most famous works are the Clayhanger trilogy and The Old Wives' Tale.
His novel "Buried Alive" was made into the 1912 movie "The Great Adventure" and several his books have been made into films and television mini-series over the years.
Bennett believed in ordinary people. His style reminds one of Maupassant, one of the French writers on whom he modeled himself. Bennett made simple things and ordinary people interesting.
He has also documented the daily life in the Potteries as well as anyone could have done. In his novel, the Potteries are referred to as "the Five Towns" (For some reason, however, Bennett left out one of the towns and did not create a fictional equivalent for Fenton):
The Six Towns of Stoke-on-Trent Bennett's Five Towns
Fenton The 'forgotten town'
A Man from the North - 1898
The Grand Babylon Hotel - 1902
Anna of the Five Towns - 1902
The Grim Smile of the Five Towns - (short stories 1907)
The Old Wives' Tale - 1908
Clayhanger - 1910
The Card - 1910
The Pretty Lady -
Hilda Lessways - 1911
Those United States
Milestones - play written with E.Knoblock
The Matador of the Five Towns - (short stories 1912)
These Twain - 1916
Riceyman Steps - 1923
The Clayhanger Family - 1925, the complete trilogy consisting of Clayhanger, Hilda Lessways - and These Twain
The Gates of Wrath
A Great Man
Scared and Profane Love
Whom God Hath joined
A Man from the North
Helen with a High Hand
Tales of the Five Towns
Teresa of Watling Street