Arnold Bennett Letter
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- Bennett, Arnold (Person)
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In 1885, Bennett joined his father's office with the idea of going to London University for a law degree; instead, he joined another solicitor's firm as a clerk at the age of twenty-one, and set out to become a writer. In 1893 he took a job with a weekly magazine, Woman, where he provided beauty hints and advice to the lovelorn as "Gwendolyn." By 1896 he had become editor of the magazine, but resigned in 1900 to devote himself to more serious work. Bennett's first major novel, Anna of the Five Towns, was published in 1902, and he moved to Paris, where he remained for ten years.
Bennett collaborated on plays with Eden Phillpotts and published a succession of novels and plays during his stay in Paris. His The Old Wives' Tale, published in 1908, is widely considered a masterpiece. By the time he returned to England in 1912, Bennett had established himself as a man of influence in English letters.
During World War I, Bennett achieved a different kind of notoriety as a propagandist for the Allied cause in England. He was sent to France to report discreetly on conditions at the front, and published Over There in 1915.
Although Bennett was criticized for writing too many popular novels, some of his works are still deemed to have great artistic merit. He went to France at the end of 1930, but became ill and returned to London where he died in 1931, after a struggle with typhoid fever. He had become such a famous figure that straw was laid in the streets to deaden the noise during his illness.
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