Bennett Estate Papers

Scope and Content

Correspondence and papers, 1883-1938, mostly relating to Arnold Bennett's death and the demands on his estate, including his will, arrangements for the funeral, correspondence between the two Mrs Bennetts, the settlement for his daughter, papers of his secretary, financial affairs, and correspondence about sale of rights.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in North Staffordshire, 1867; educated at Middle School, Newcastle under Lyme; joined his father's office in order to finish preparing for matriculation at the University of London and to study for a law degree which he was never to complete, 1885; left Staffordshire to become clerk at a firm of London solicitors, 1888-1893; also worked as a freelance journalist and wrote several novels and short stories, becoming assistant editor of the weekly journal 'Woman', 1893; editor, 1896; lived in Paris, 1902-1912; wrote plays, romances, articles and novels; married Marie Marguerite Soulié, a Frenchwoman, 1907; returned to England, 1912; during World War One, became a public servant, serving on the War Memorials and Wounded Allies Relief Committee and as head of propaganda in France, 1914-1918; whilst in France, wrote on conditions at the front; after the war, published several novels and contributed articles to the 'Evening Standard' newspaper; separated from his wife, 1921; in 1922 began to live with Dorothy Cheston, who was regarded as his second wife and changed her name to Bennett; had a daughter, Virginia Mary, 1926; after a trip to France, returned to London ill with typhoid fever and died, 1931. Publications include: novels, most famously 'Anna of the five towns' (1902), 'The Old Wives' Tale' (1908) and 'Clayhanger' (1911), all set in the Potteries; and many stage plays.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Received in April 1985 from Bennett's solicitors Parker Garrett and Company (via BRA)

Other Finding Aids

Most sections have been fully listed and the list is available online. Files catalogued at MS ADD 299/13-23 have only a basic description.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Related Material

University College London Special Collections also holds working papers and correspondence of Bennett (Ref: MS ADD 96).

University of London (Library - Senate House) holds holograph manuscripts of works by Bennett, 1913, 1916 (Ref: MS 283, SL V 45), and a limited edition of his The Old Wives' Tale, 1908 (Ref: SL V 46); the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library, University of Texas at Austin, USA, has notebooks and a manuscript of 'Instinct', 1906-1926, and letters from George Bernard Shaw, 1910-1930 (Ref: No 419); Houghton Library, Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA, contains a journal, 1908-1909 (Ref: MS Eng 28), and literary papers; the British Library, London, holds a journal, 1912 (Ref: Add MS 59841), letters to Mrs Cheston, 1925-1929 (Ref: Add MS 60391H), letters to Charles Frederick Gurney and Lucy Masterton, 1915-1930 (Ref: Add MS 62111), letters to Michael Morton, 1925-1928 (Ref: Add MS 59877), letters to Ivor Nicholson and Miss Head, 1926-1929 (Ref: RP2848), letters to F F Rosher, 1913-1919 (Ref: RP2614), correspondence of Bennett and his executors with the Society of Authors, 1909-1967 (Ref: Add MS 56668), and correspondence with Marie Stopes, 1918-1931 (Ref: Add MS 58497); Stoke-on-Trent City Museum and Art Gallery contains correspondence and papers, and letters to Annie Truscott Wood, 1892-1925; the University of California Library, Berkeley, USA, holds correspondence and literary manuscripts, [1911-1931] (Ref: NUC MS 75-258); the Beinecke Library, Connecticut, USA, has letters and papers; the Huntington Library, California, USA, contains letters and literary manuscripts; the McLennan Library, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, holds literary manuscripts; The King's School, Canterbury, has a manuscript of, and notes for, 'The price of love', and correspondence with Edward Garnett; the House of Lords Record Office contains correspondence with William Maxwell Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, 1917-1930 (Ref: BBK/C/31-5), and correspondence with Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel, 1926-1930 (Ref: Samuel papers); Cambridge University Library holds letters to Richard Bedford Bennett, Viscount Bennett, 1916-1931 (Ref: Add 7650); the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, has letters to Richard Sidney Blaker, 1918-1925 (Ref: MS Eng lett c317); the John Rylands University Library of Manchester contains letters to Basil Dean; the British Library of Political and Economic Science, London, holds letters to Alfred George Gardiner, 1914-[1927] (Ref: Gardiner); Trinity College Dublin has letters to Thomas Patrick Bodkin, 1917-1930 (Ref: MS 6993/10-20a); Keele University Library, contains letters to WW and Tertia Kennerley, verses and miscellaneous papers, 1902-1931 (Ref: ABK); the Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester, New York, USA, holds correspondence with Edward Knoblock, 1909-1931 (Ref: NUC MS 76-1435); Columbia University Library, New York, USA, has correspondence with Edward Verall Lucas, 1908-1938 (Ref: NUC MS 64-137); the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, contains letters to Sir John Ritchie Richmond, 1916-1928 (Ref: Acc 8921); the Brotherton Library, Leeds University, holds letters to Pauline Smith, 1916-[1931]; the University of Arkansas Library, USA, has correspondence with Frank Arthur Swinnerton, 1910-1931; literary papers are held at the New York Public Library, Lilly Library at Indiana University, the Pennsylvania State University Library and Northwestern University Library in Illinois, USA.