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Arnold Bennett

Bennett, Arnold (Enoch Arnold Bennett), 1867–1931, English novelist and dramatist. One of the great 20th-century English novelists, Bennett is famous for his realistic novels about the "Five Towns," an imaginary manufacturing district in northern England. Bennett's early career included editing the fashionable magazine Woman and writing literary reviews and articles. About 1900 he began to devote himself industriously to his own work, producing a series of excellent regional novels. Influenced by the naturalism of Zola, he depicted in great detail the grim, sometimes sordid, lives of shopkeepers and potters. His attitude toward his characters was one of affectionate sympathy, and he always managed to make their mundane lives interesting. Bennett's best work is contained in his novels of the "Five Towns," which include Anna of the Five Towns (1902), The Old Wives' Tale (1908), the trilogy Clayhanger (1910), Hilda Lessways (1911), and These Twain (1916). Bennett also achieved considerable success as a playwright, most notably with Milestones (1912), written with Edward Knoblock, and The Great Adventure (1913).

See his journal (3 vol., 1932–33); biography by M. Drabble (1974).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: English Literature, 20th cent. to the Present: Biographies

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