Archive | June, 2012

Invitation to a Beheading

A few words of warning from Arnold Bennett on confusing literature and life: It has been asserted that unless I had actually been present at a public execution, I could not have written the chapter in which Sophia was at the Auxerre solemnity. I have not been present at a public execution, as the whole […]

Paris Air Show 1908

The Geography of Character

When most effective, the world inhabited by fictional characters strikes the reader as a concrete place and expresses the characters’ shifting emotional states. In The Author’s Craft, Arnold Bennett describes a street as “a mirror, an illustration, an exposition, an explanation, of the human beings who live in it.” In other words, in a novel: […]


Friday Fun: The King of Hearts

Arnold Bennett’s abundant literary output likely reflects the significant stammer he suffered since early childhood. It prevented him from giving public speeches throughout his life and likely contributed to his marrying late. As biographer Margaret Drabble put it: “The hesitance of his speech made him more direct and incisive in his prose, but women do […]


Those Who Bother With the Past

In a lecture delivered in 2009, the late historical novelists Barry Unsworth spoke about the “unbroken continuity” of the past – unbroken, but not undisrupted. Unsworth first explains how his father, born to a mining village and a mining life, took up the trade at 12 years old. Seven years later, he broke away and […]

Arnold Bennet - LoC

Bennett on Writing

From The Author’s Craft: On observation as a “moral act” and a novelist’s duty: Observation endows our day and our street with the romantic charm of history and stimulates charity – not the charity which signs cheques, but the more precious charity which puts itself to the trouble of understanding. On the geography of characters: […]


Friday Fun: Omelette Arnold Bennett

An omelette named after an author? It sounds like a scene from one of Bennett’s “sensationals.” Actually, it’s a longstanding dish (distinguished by the addition of smoked haddock, Parmesan cheese and cream) on the menu of London’s Savoy Hotel. As the story goes, the Savoy’s chefs first whipped up this frothy, fishy concoction when Bennett […]


Arnold Bennett on Joseph Conrad

Having first met Joseph Conrad “toward the end of the last century” at the house of H.G. Wells, Arnold Bennett recalled the older man in the pages of the Evening Standard, a few years after Conrad’s death: Even then, from the way he talked, one could perceive at once and all the time that creative […]


Quotable: Arnold Bennett

From How to Live on 24 Hours a Day: You get into the morning train with your newspaper, and you calmly and majestically give yourself up to your newspaper. You do not hurry. You know you have at least half an hour of security in front of you. As your glance lingers idly at the […]