Dr Phyllis Bentley

[1894-1977]



The Halifax-born writer Dr Phyllis Eleanor Bentley OBE was born on 19th November 1894, the youngest child and only daughter of Eleanor and Joseph Edwin Bentley, woollen manufacturer at Dunkirk Mills, Halifax.

The family lived at Heath Villas, Halifax.

At the age of 6, she wrote a poem – The Volcano – for her father's birthday.

She was educated at Halifax Girls' High School and Cheltenham Ladies College, and gained an external BA at London University in 1914.

During World War I, she taught in a boys' grammar school, and then worked at the Ministry of Munitions in London. She taught English and Latin at Heath Grammar School. She catalogued material for the Halifax Literary & Philosophical Society.

In 1928, Gollancz published her novel The Partnership.

The TV popularity of the Inheritance trilogy – started in 1932 – made her a household name. In 1949, she was awarded an Hon D.Litt from Leeds University.

In 1958, she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

In 1963, she moved to Warley Grange.

In 1970, she was awarded an OBE.

She wrote 46 books, including 21 novels against a West Riding background.

She famously remarked

Two strong passions have always ruled my life: The first is literature; the second is the West Riding

The Inheritance trilogy is set in and around the Colne Valley;

She also wrote

She was a founder member of Halifax Thespians, and the Halifax Authors' Circle.

She died at Ing Royde Nursing Home, Halifax on 27th June 1977

Books by Phyllis Bentley

The adventures of Tom Leigh
Children's fiction. This historical drama features an inn – Black Nancy's – which is based on the Fleece Inn at Barkisland

Published in 1964

The Brontës

Published by Thames & Hudson [1997]

ISBN: 0-50-026016-8

The Brontës & their World
Biography of the Brontë family

Published in 1969/1974

Carr
Novel #4 in the West Riding Series, covering the years 1857-1927.

A novel about a manufacturer in the textile industry.

Full title:

Carr: Being the Biography of Philip Joseph Carr, Manufacturer of the Village of Carr Foot, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Written By His Granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Carr

Published in 1929

Cat in the manger
A novel.

Yorkshire story

Published in 1923

Colne Valley Cloth
The story of cloth manufacture from the earliest times to the present day.

Published by Huddersfield & District Woollen Export Group [1947]

The book is illustrated with drawings, woodcuts, and a pull-out map of the Cloth District in colour

Committees
A factual book about Committees, what they are and how they are conducted

Published by William Collins [1962]

Crescendo
A novel

Published in 1958

The English regional novel

Published in 1941

Environment
Semi-autobiographical fiction.

Her first novel

Published in 1922

Forgery!
Children's fiction. Received the Edgar Award.

Published by Doubleday [1969]

Freedom, farewell!
A novel which charts the decline of republican ideals in Ancient Rome. This is the only one of her works that was not concerned with Yorkshire

Published by Gollancz [1936]

Gold Pieces
A children's novel which presents a fictionalised account of the Cragg Coiners, as seen through the eyes of a 12 year old boy

Published in 1968

Haworth of the Brontës
This was written with John Ogden. She died a few days before the book was published

Published in 1977

The heir of Skipton
A novel which was serialised and broadcast for children

Here is America
Fiction

The house of Moreys
A novel

Published in 1953

Inheritance
Novel #3 in the West Riding Series, covering the years 1812-1931.

The novel is the chronicle of two Yorkshire textile families, the Oldroyd family and the Bamforth family, and is based upon her own family's experience of the slump in the textile industry during 1930/31.

Published in 1932

The story is set in the Colne (Ire) valley.

She gives a good description of the Luddites and uses the names of Thorp and Mellor, 2 of the Rawfolds conspirators.

This was followed by The rise of Henry Morcar and A man of his time – making up the Inheritance trilogy. The trilogy covers the period 1812-1965. She brought the saga up-to-date in Ring in the new.

The 592-page book was published in March 1932, and was in its 5th edition by April 1932. It went to 29 editions in England. It was translated into 8 languages.

In 1946, Inheritance was serialised on BBC radio.

In February 1967, Granada Television began a 10-part serialisation of the trilogy, featuring John Thaw and James Bolam. The series was filmed in Huddersfield and at Sowerby Bridge, Murgatroyd's Mill, Luddenden, and Spring Mill, Rishworth. It was shown in September 1967, and repeated in 1969

See Twisting in

Kith & kin
Fiction

Life story
Fiction

Love & money
Fiction

A Man of his Time
A novel which continues the Inheritance saga

Published in 1966

Manhold
Novel #2 in the West Riding Series, covering the years 1720-1805.

The life of the 18th century yeoman clothier Samuel Hill as represented by the character Sam Horsfall. The story also refer to Tim Bobbin.

Some scenes are set in the Old Bridge Inn, Ripponden

Published in 1941

A Modern Tragedy
Novel #5 in the West Riding Series, covering the years 1928-1932.

The novel which portrays life in the textile trade during the recession

Published in 1934

More tales of the West Riding

Published by Victor Gollancz, London [1974]

ISBN: 0-57-501898-4

Noble in reason
A novel

Published in 1955

O Dreams, O Destinations
Her autobiography

Published in 1962

Panorama: Tales of the West Riding
Fiction

Published by Chivers [1974]

ISBN: 0-85-594925-2

The Partnership
Fiction.

Published by Gollancz [1928]

After several rejections, this was the first novel to be published in her long association with the Gollancz publishing house.

See West Riding Series

The Pennine Weaver
A historical look at life in the Colne Valley.

Published by Firecrest Publishing Limited [1970]

ISBN: 0-85-119005-7

The power & the glory
Fiction.

Published by Gollancz [1940]

This was entitled Take Courage in the UK

Quorum
Fiction

Ring in the New
This novel brought the Oldroyds of Inheritance up-to-date

Published in 1969

The Rise of Henry Morcar
A novel which continues the Inheritance saga and looks at the courage of the English under duress

Published in 1946

Sleep in peace
Novel #6 in the West Riding Series, covering the years 1894-1936.

Looks at the beginnings of women's suffrage in the early 20th century. In 1939, the book was banned by the Nazis in Germany, because of its liberal politics. Phyllis commented that

I feel it is quite an honour

Published in 1938

Some Observations on the Art of Narrative

Published by Peters & Company

Published in 1947

The spinner of the years
A novel.

Published in 1928

See West Riding Series

Take courage
Novel #1 in the West Riding Series, covering the years 1625-1672. This novel describes the 17th century cloth trade

Trio
A novel.

Published in 1930

See West Riding Series

We of the West Riding

West Riding Series
A series of novel presenting Yorkshire history in a fictional manner

Other novels – The spinner of the years, The Partnership, Trio, - deal with private lives rather than public themes

The whole of the story
A collection of short stories

Published in 1935

The World's Bane
Her first work. A collection of four allegorical stories.

Published in 1918

The Young Brontës
Biography




© Malcolm Bull 2018
Revised 18:20 /20th June 2018 / ww_23 / 17095

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