Five Fascinating Facts about… Arnold Bennett

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Compiled by Julie Barham

1.Bennett was an ardent Francophile, frequently looking to France as a source of literary inspiration. He would moor his yacht and paint views from peaceful French coastal beauty spots, and his 1918 bestseller The Pretty Lady portrays a French prostitute.

2. He had a lot of ideas about the nature of writing. His view was that characters and their setting was central to writing fiction, a view savagely parodied in Virginia Woolf’s essay, Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown 1924. He also thought that fiction should be essentially autobiographical: 

“Good fiction is autobiography dressed in the colours of mankind.”

3. Bennett carried a crumpled £5 note around for twenty years to give to the first person he saw reading one of his novels.

4. ‘Omelette Arnold Bennett’ was created by a chef at The Savoy Hotel for the novelist, who wrote an entire book, Imperial Palace, while staying there. It’s made with smoked haddock and cheese.

5. The Potteries Museum in Stoke on Trent holds Bennetts’ Opera coat which he never got round to picking up from the cleaners.

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Read Julie’s review of Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett HERE.

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