Richard Howells: Arise, Sir Arnold?

Richard Howells, CMCI’s Emeritus Professor of Cultural Sociology, has an article published in the New York-based literary magazine the New Criterion.

It’s about a feud between Virginia Woolf and the (at the time) much more famous English author, editor, playwright, and critic Arnold Bennett. Howells traces the development of the falling-out, which he argues was much more about Woolf’s snobbery than literary theory. Woolf was from the well-heeled upper-middle classes in London; Bennett was a self-made man from Stoke-on-Trent.

As a result of research at the National Archives at Kew, at Keele University, and at the Parliamentary Archives in Westminster,  Howells is able for the first time to substantiate the rumour that Bennett had been offered -and discreetly turned down- the offer of a knighthood from the King. Had Bennett been half the arriviste that Woolf thought him to be, he would have grabbed the opportunity with both hands. But in turning it down as he did, Howells contends that Bennett had revealed himself to be a true gentleman.

The New Criterion was founded in 1982 and is named after the former British literary magazine the Criterion, which was edited by TS Eliot from 1922 to 1939.

The full citation is: Richard Howells, “Arise, Sir Arnold?” in the New Criterion, Volume 41, Number 1, September, 2022, pp. 35-39. It’s also available at: