Enoch Arnold Bennett's photo


Lifetime: 1867 - 1931 Passed: ≈ 93 years ago


Novelist, playwright, journalist



Arnold Bennett

Bennett is best known for his novels and short stories, many of which are set in a fictionalised version of the Potteries, which he called The Five Towns. He strongly believed that literature should be accessible to ordinary people, and he deplored literary cliques and élites. His books appealed to a wide public and sold in large numbers. For this reason writers and supporters of the modernist school belittled him, and much of his work became neglected after his death.

Enoch Arnold Bennett (always known as Arnold Bennett). In 1905 Bennett became engaged to Eleanor Green, a member of an eccentric and unreliable American family living in Paris, but at the last moment, after the wedding invitations had been sent out, she broke off the engagement and swiftly married a fellow American. Drabble comments that Bennett was well rid of her, but it was a painful episode in his life. In early 1907 he met Marguerite Soulié (1874–1960), who soon became first a friend, then a lover and then a wife.

Books by Arnold Bennett

Mental Efficiency – Mental Exercises Cover image

Mental Efficiency – Mental Exercises

Philosophy Psychology
Self Help Contemporary

Mental Efficiency , a light hearted yet thought-provoking collection of articles, Bennett offers his thoughts on exercising the mind, organising your life, the advantages (and disadvantages) of marriage and other pocket philosophies. The book stands...

The Old Wives’ Tale Cover image

The Old Wives’ Tale

Fiction Tragedy
Ugly Sisters

A simple concept of parallels and contrasts in the lives of sisters, carefully told with gentle irony. It starts in 1864 when Constance and Sophia are 16 and 15 respectively and follows them to the end of their lives. Book 1 covers their teenage year...

How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day Cover image

How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Philosophy Non-Fiction
Self Help Self-Discovery Self-knowledge

This book is a classic piece on self-improvement teaching you to live to the fullest. Judging from the title of the book, the reader might expect that the book is a manual on how to manage your time better. Nothing could be further from the truth, t...

Mental Efficiency and Other Hints to Men and Women Cover image

Mental Efficiency and Other Hints to Men and Women

Non-Fiction Psychology
Self Help Contemporary Mental Fitness

Mental Efficiency and Other Hints to Men and Women is one of the many self help books that Bennett wrote, the most famous of these being How to Live 24 Hours a Day. It is highly readable, amusing and offers wisdom in an extremely palatable form. Benn...

The Grand Babylon Hotel Cover image

The Grand Babylon Hotel

Fiction Novel
Detective Mystery

The Grand Babylon Hotel is a novel by Arnold Bennett, published in January 1902, about the mysterious disappearance of a German prince. It originally appeared as a serial in the Golden Penny. The titular Grand Babylon was modelled on the Savoy Hotel...

The Human Machine Cover image

The Human Machine

Philosophy Non-Fiction Psychology
Self Help

Bennett asks us to consider our brains as the most wonderful machine, a machine which is the only thing in this world that we can control. As he writes: "I am simply bent on calling your attention to a fact which has perhaps wholly or partially escap...

The Ghost: A Modern Fantasy Cover image

The Ghost: A Modern Fantasy

Fantasy Fiction
Supernatural Ghost Story

The novel opens with Carl Foster, a recently qualified doctor, coming to London to try and make his fortune. He meets a famous tenor, Signor Alresca, who suffers a dreadful injury backstage and Foster tends to him. He thus meets the lead soprano, Ros...

Hilda Lessways Cover image

Hilda Lessways

Fiction Novel
Love Relationships

This book is the second in Bennett’s four books about life in the Five Towns (the real life Potteries in Staffordshire). It tells the story of Hilda before her marriage to Edwin Clayhanger (from the first book). Bennett explores Hilda's ambition to m...

The Matador of the Five Towns and Other Stories  Cover image

The Matador of the Five Towns and Other Stories

Short Story Love Tragic General Fiction

Twenty-two short stories by Arnold Bennett, mainly set in the 'Five Towns', Bennett's name for the pottery manufacturing towns of the English midlands.

The Roll-Call  Cover image

The Roll-Call

Fiction Novel
Family Love Children Life Wealth General Fiction

"The Roll-Call" is the sequel to the Clayhanger trilogy. This book concerns the young life of Clayhanger's stepson, George. George Edwin Cannon (he quickly dropped the surname Clayhanger), is an architect, in many ways representing the ambitions held...

These Twain  Cover image

These Twain

Marriage Influential Life General Fiction

It chronicles the married life of Edwin and Hilda. Edwin, released from the controlling influence of his father, finds himself free to run his business and his life, but his freedom is diminished by his wife's caprices. Hilda does not conform to the...

The Feast of St. Friend  Cover image

The Feast of St. Friend

Philosophy Non-Fiction
Family Christmas Home Relationships Writing

In The Feast of St. Friend, a Christmas book, Arnold Bennett shares his views on Christmas as the season of goodwill. As always, Bennett's writing includes some thought-provoking ideas liberally spiced with his wry sense of humour, and as always too,...

Self and Self-Management: Essays about Existing  Cover image

Self and Self-Management: Essays about Existing

Satire Philosophy Essays
Short Story Self Philosophical Short Works Human Nature

Bennett's essays always provide food for thought and bring a wry smile to the lips. Human nature, it appears, changes little over the ages, and Bennett, as always, stands the test of time, though in the case of some of the essays in this eclectic col...

Literary Taste: How to Form It Cover image

Literary Taste: How to Form It

Twentieth Century Self Help Influential Literature Literary Criticism Classics

Literary Taste: How to Form it is a long essay by Arnold Bennett, first published in 1909, with a revised edition by his friend Frank Swinnerton appearing in 1937. It includes a long list of recommended books, every item individually costed. Both th...

The Price of Love  Cover image

The Price of Love

Fiction Novel
Family Marriage Love Discovery General Fiction

Rachel Louise Fleckring works for the elderly Mrs Maldon, and although with the woman for only a short time, she is taken into the heart of the family. She falls in love with one of Mrs Maldon's descendants, but along the way, she has to come to term...

The Card  Cover image

The Card

Marriage 19th century Young Comics Wealth General Fiction

The Card is a comic novel written by Arnold Bennett in 1911 (entitled Denry the Audacious in the American edition). It was later made into a 1952 movie, starring Alec Guinness and Petula Clark.

Helen with the High Hand Cover image

Helen with the High Hand

Family Love Young Explore Determination Desire England Ambition

It follows the story of Helen Rathbone, a confident and independent young woman living in Edwardian England. In this coming-of-age tale, Helen is faced with the challenges of navigating society's expectations of her gender and class while also pursu...

The Pretty Lady Cover image

The Pretty Lady

Romance Fiction Novel
Love Beauty Redemption Society Loss Ambition Women Resilience Women's Fiction

Christine, a French prostitute, flees to London during World War I in search of a better life. She meets and falls in love with Hoape, a wealthy Englishman, but their relationship is complicated by their different social backgrounds and by the war. C...

The Loot Of Cities Cover image

The Loot Of Cities

Romance Fiction Novel
Mystery Thriller Literature Loyalty Desire Betrayal Wealth Ambition Dangerous Intriguing Hidden Motives

The bustling streets of early 20th-century London, a city of contrasts, ambitions, and secrets. Written by the acclaimed author Arnold Bennett, this gripping tale follows the lives of several individuals whose paths intertwine as they embark on a que...

Mr. Prohack Cover image

Mr. Prohack

Fiction Novel
Young Nature Treasure Historical Fiction Self-Discovery Struggle Journey Life Observation

Suddenly unemployed and penniless, Mr. Prohack must learn to live on a budget and find new meaning in his life. Mr. Prohack is a successful Treasury official who suddenly finds himself unemployed and penniless after his department is abolished. He i...

Lilian Cover image


Love Truth Young Redemption Adventure Self-Discovery Life

What happens when a young woman with a taste for adventure leaves her mundane job for a life of luxury and excitement? In his novel Lilian, Arnold Bennett tells the story of a young typist named Lilian who is seduced by the promises of a wealthy and...

The Old Adam Cover image

The Old Adam

Adventure Fiction Novel
Love Morality Action Success Journey Loss Life Relationships

What if a successful businessman was suddenly forced to confront his own mortality? Edward Henry Machin is a successful businessman who has everything he could ever want in life. He has a beautiful wife, a lovely home, and a thriving business. But w...

Tales of the Five Towns Cover image

Tales of the Five Towns

This is a selection of short stories recounting, with gentle satire and tolerant good humour, the small town provincial life at the end of the nineteenth century, based around the six towns in the county of Staffordshire, England, known as the Potter...

Anna of the Five Towns Cover image

Anna of the Five Towns

The plot centers on Anna Tellwright, daughter of a wealthy but miserly and dictatorial father, living in the Potteries area of Staffordshire, England. Her activities are strictly controlled by the Methodist church. Having escaped her father by marryi...

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