Arnold Bennett papers

email: h.burton@keele.ac.uk      tel: +44 (0)1782 733237

Enoch Arnold Bennett was born in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent on 27 May 1867. His enduring fame is as a chronicler of the Potteries towns, the setting and inspiration of some of his most popular literary works. In 1889 Bennett moved to London as a solicitors' clerk, but was encouraged to take up journalism full-time, becoming assistant editor of Woman in 1894. Just four years later his first novel A Man from the North was published to critical acclaim, followed in 1902 by Anna of the Five Towns.

Between 1903 and 1911 Bennett lived mainly in Paris and married Marie Marguerite Soulie in 1907. He continued to enjoy critical success with the publication of many novels, including The Old Wives' Tale (1908). By 1922 Bennett had separated from Marguerite and the following year began to live with the actress Dorothy Cheston, who was regarded as his second wife. They had a daughter, Virginia, in 1926 and continued to live together until Bennett’s death from typhoid in April 1931. Bennett’s ashes are buried in Burslem cemetery.

The University Library takes a special interest in collecting material relating to Arnold Bennett. We hold hundreds of manuscript letters and postcards, some literary manuscripts, as well as pictorial material, dating from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

Important additions include the Mary Kennerley bequest and Joan Ells bequest of Bennett signed first editions; correspondence between Bennett and family and friends gifted by Virginia Eldin; diaries, watercolours, sketches and photographs of Septimus Bennett, the gift of Ruth Bennett; the research papers of Tom Roberts, including correspondence with Bennett friends and family; the paper of the Arnold Bennett Society, including articles, cuttings and Bennett family photographs.

This material is owned by Keele, is mostly listed, and there are no restrictions on access.