Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Whatever happened to Phyllis Bentley?

Phyllis Bentley was not from Headingley but from Halifax, where she spent almost her entire life. Her family was closely involved with a textile industry which has now largely disappeared. When she is remembered at all, it is as the writer of regional novels, and her West Riding was considered, in its day, to be a kind of equivalent of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. She was highly praised by the likes of Arnold Bennett, Hugh Walpole and that other great literary figure from Yorkshire, J. B. Priestley.

Her novel Inheritance is set in the times of the Luddites, with a mill owner’s son in love with a mill girl, and is a little reminiscent of Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley. It sold very well in the Thirties, and was translated into a number of languages. Bentley was fascinated by the Brontës, and her book on them is something of a classic, still selling steadily and used as a reference. So why has she faded into obscurity, unlike Hardy?

This will be one of the questions addressed in Headingley Library on Tuesday 23 March at 7pm by Dave Russell. The ticket is three pounds – with two pounds for concessions. There are refreshments too.

Click top right for the programme

1 comment:

  1. I can remember reading 'Inheritance' and can see the resemblance between Charlotte Bronte's 'Shirley' and of course the Luddite setting is the same. I always mix up 'Inheritance' with 'The Crowthers of Bankdam' by Thomas Armstrong- set also in the textile industry- in the Huddersfield area. I enjoyed reading both! I seem to recollect that I read a children's book by Phyllis Bentley about the 'Cragg Coiners' a band of counterfeiters- I think also from the Halifax area- who nearly destroyed the British currency in the late 18th century. What changes- counterfeiters then, greedy bankers today! Your programme for your LitFest looks superb!