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Tales of the Five Towns

Tales of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett
By: (1867-1931)

This is a selection of short stories recounting, with gentle satire and tolerant good humour, the small town provincial life at the end of the nineteenth century, based around the six towns in the county of Staffordshire, England, known as the Potteries. Arnold Bennett chose to fictionalize these towns by changing their names and omitting one (Fenton) as he apparently felt that “Five Towns” was more euphonious than “Six Towns”. The real town names which are thinly disguised in the novel are: Hanley, Longton, Burslem and Tunstal, the fifth, Stoke became “Knype”.

Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was born in Hanley, the eldest child of a pawnbroker who subsequently became a solicitor. Bennett’s father wished him to become a solicitor too, but he failed his university entrance examination and instead became a solicitor’s clerk, at first in his father’s office and, from 1889, in London.

He showed early promise as a writer winning a writing competition in a local newspaper as a boy. In London he began to see his writing published in popular magazines and he joined the staff of Woman magazine in 1893.

His first novel to be published, A Man from the North, appeared in 1898 and its success allowed him to give up other work to concentrate on writing. His first short story (A Letter Home) was written in 1893 and appears in Tales of the Five Towns.

First Page:

TALES

OF THE FIVE TOWNS

By

ARNOLD BENNETT

First published January 1905

TO

MARCEL SCHWOB

MY LITERARY GODFATHER IN FRANCE

CONTENTS

PART I

AT HOME

HIS WORSHIP THE GOOSEDRIVER THE ELIXIR OF YOUTH MARY WITH THE HIGH HAND THE DOG A FEUD PHANTOM TIDDY FOL LOL THE IDIOT

PART II

ABROAD

THE HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY THE SISTERS QITA NOCTURNE AT THE MAJESTIC CLARICE OF THE AUTUMN CONCERTS A LETTER HOME

PART I

AT HOME

HIS WORSHIP THE GOOSEDRIVER

I

It was an amiable but deceitful afternoon in the third week of December. Snow fell heavily in the windows of confectioners' shops, and Father Christmas smiled in Keats's Bazaar the fawning smile of a myth who knows himself to be exploded; but beyond these and similar efforts to remedy the forgetfulness of a careless climate, there was no sign anywhere in the Five Towns, and especially in Bursley, of the immediate approach of the season of peace, goodwill, and gluttony on earth... Continue reading book >>


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Reviews (Rated: 5 Stars - 1 review)

Reviewer: - September 13, 2013
Subject: Short stories
Very well written. Narrator does a great job reading. Unpredictable and thought provoking stories. enjoyable to the last.


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