Bennett, Arnold (1867–1931) By Peters, John
A prolific and popular author, English writer Arnold Bennett was one of the most important Realist/Naturalist writers of the early twentieth century. Strongly influenced by George Moore, Bennett made valuable contributions to this literary tradition, achieving distinction alongside contemporaries H. G. Wells and John Galsworthy.
Enoch Arnold Bennett was born in Burslem, Staffordshire in 1867. Bennett showed promise as a student, but at sixteen left school to work in his father’s law office and then later as a clerk in a London law office. In 1893, Bennett left his job to become assistant editor of the journal Woman, later becoming editor-in-chief. He had been writing occasional pieces for the Staffordshire Sentinel for several years before he published his first story, ‘A Letter Home’ (1895), in The Yellow Book. His first novel, A Man from the North, appeared in 1898. Modelled after the fiction of George Moore, it tells the story of a man from the Potteries district of Bennett’s youth who tries to acclimatize to a life as a clerk in London. Emboldened by his initial literary success, in 1900 Bennett gave up his position with Woman to become a full-time writer.