Dr Phyllis Bentley

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 LeighRef 16-7
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 BrontësRef 16-39

Published by Thames & Hudson [1997]

ISBN: 0-50-026016-8

The Brontës & their WorldRef 16-28
Biography of the Brontë family

Published in 1969/1974

CarrRef 16-27
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 mangerRef 16-19
A novel.

Yorkshire story

Published in 1923

Colne Valley ClothRef 16-15
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

CommitteesRef 16-41
A factual book about Committees, what they are and how they are conducted

Published by William Collins [1962]

CrescendoRef 16-8
A novel

Published in 1958

The English regional novelRef 16-24

Published in 1941

EnvironmentRef 16-23
Semi-autobiographical fiction.

Her first novel

Published in 1922

Forgery!Ref 16-10
Children's fiction. Received the Edgar Award.

Published by Doubleday [1969]

Freedom, farewell!Ref 16-13
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 PiecesRef 16-42
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 BrontësRef 16-33
This was written with John Ogden. She died a few days before the book was published

Published in 1977

The heir of SkiptonRef 16-14
A novel which was serialised and broadcast for children

Here is AmericaRef 16-21

The house of MoreysRef 16-17
A novel

Published in 1953

InheritanceRef 16-22
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 & kinRef 16-20

Life storyRef 16-26

Love & moneyRef 16-25

A Man of his TimeRef 16-36
A novel which continues the Inheritance saga

Published in 1966

ManholdRef 16-2
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 TragedyRef 16-32
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 RidingRef 16-40

Published by Victor Gollancz, London [1974]

ISBN: 0-57-501898-4

Noble in reasonRef 16-30
A novel

Published in 1955

O Dreams, O DestinationsRef 16-6
Her autobiography

Published in 1962

Panorama: Tales of the West RidingRef 16-34

Published by Chivers [1974]

ISBN: 0-85-594925-2

The PartnershipRef 16-29

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 WeaverRef 16-38
A historical look at life in the Colne Valley.

Published by Firecrest Publishing Limited [1970]

ISBN: 0-85-119005-7

The power & the gloryRef 16-35

Published by Gollancz [1940]

This was entitled Take Courage in the UK

QuorumRef 16-4

Ring in the NewRef 16-1
This novel brought the Oldroyds of Inheritance up-to-date

Published in 1969

The Rise of Henry MorcarRef 16-31
A novel which continues the Inheritance saga and looks at the courage of the English under duress

Published in 1946

Sleep in peaceRef 16-5
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 NarrativeRef 16-12

Published by Peters & Company

Published in 1947

The spinner of the yearsRef 16-9
A novel.

Published in 1928

See West Riding Series

Take courageRef 16-11
Novel #1 in the West Riding Series, covering the years 1625-1672. This novel describes the 17th century cloth trade

TrioRef 16-16
A novel.

Published in 1930

See West Riding Series

We of the West RidingRef 16-37

West Riding SeriesRef 16-44
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 storyRef 16-18
A collection of short stories

Published in 1935

The World's BaneRef 16-43
Her first work. A collection of four allegorical stories.

Published in 1918

The Young BrontësRef 16-3

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 18:25 / 13th April 2021 / 19386

Page Ref: WW_23

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