Arnold Bennett and H. G. Wells: A Record of a Personal and a Literary Friendship

Arnold Bennett and H. G. Wells: A Record of a Personal and a Literary Friendship

Arnold Bennett and H. G. Wells: A Record of a Personal and a Literary Friendship

Arnold Bennett and H. G. Wells: A Record of a Personal and a Literary Friendship

Excerpt

On 30 September 1897 Enoch Arnold Bennett, a thirtyyear-old editor of a penny magazine for women, wrote a brief letter of appreciation to Herbert George Wells, a thirty-one-year-old author of scientific romances, who had already been hailed byW. T. Stead in his Review of Reviews as "a man of genius." Wells answered Bennett with cordiality and at some length. Thus began a personal and literary friendship that was to continue unbroken for a third of a century.

At the time he wrote to Wells, Bennett could make little claim to distinction in letters. He had arrived in London in 1889, a very provincial young man from the north, as a shorthand clerk in a law office. The efficiency that was to become a legend in later years brought him quick if modest success as a clerk, but the widening of his intellectual and cultural horizons, largely through his friendship with Frederick Marriott, soon made the life of the law office impossible for him. He gained a taste of the material rewards of writing from a parody of Grant Allen's What's Bred in the Bone published in Tit-Bits, for which he received twenty guineas, and offered proof of his artistic capacity in a short story, A Letter Home, which was accepted by the Yellow Book. In the meantime he had begun his first novel and terminated his career as a clerk. With the aid of a £300 loan from his father . . .

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