Artist Catalog

Phyllis Bentley

Born: November 19 1894

Phyllis Bentley

Phyllis Eleanor Bentley, OBE (19 November 1894 – 27 June 1977), was an English novelist.

The youngest child of a mill owner, she grew up in Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire and was educated at Halifax High School for Girls and Cheltenham Ladies' College. During World War I, she worked in the munitions industry. After the war, she returned to her native Halifax where she taught English and Latin.

In 1918, she published her first work, a collection of short stories entitled The World's Bane, after which she published several poor-selling novels until the publication in March 1932 of her best-known work, Inheritance, set against the background of the development of the textile industry in the West Riding, which received widespread critical acclaim and ran through twenty-three impressions by 1946, making her the first successful English regional novelist since Thomas Hardy and his Wessex.

Bentley was a literary celebrity in the 1930s: in 1938 she gave the first in a series of 'Manchester Celebrity Lectures' on the subject 'Writing a novel'.

Two further novels followed in 1946 and 1966, forming a trilogy, and in 1967 Inheritance was filmed by Granada TV, with John Thaw and James Bolam in leading roles. In 1968, she wrote the children's novel Gold Pieces, which is a fictionalised account, seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy, of the Cragg Coiners, who defrauded the government by clipping the edges of gold coins to melt down and make into new coins.

Bentley wrote 24 detective short stories featuring Miss Marian Phipps, beginning with "The Missing Character" for Woman's Home Companion in 1937 and continuing in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine from the early 1950s to the early 1970s. A collection appeared in book form in 2014.

In 1949 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from Leeds University. In 1958, she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and in 1970, she was appointed an OBE.

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