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Anna of the Five Towns is a novel by Arnold Bennett, first published in 1902 and one of his best-known works.
The plot centres on Anna Tellwright, daughter of a wealthy but miserly and dictatorial father, living in the Potteries area of Staffordshire, England. Her activities are strictly controlled by the Methodist church. The novel tells of Anna's struggle for freedom and independence against her father's restraints.
In reality Stoke-on-Trent is an amalgamation (in 1910) of six towns: in order from northwest to southeast, the towns are Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton. "The Five Towns" is a name given to it in novels by Arnold Bennett, who was born in Hanley and lived in the district. He said that he believed "Five Towns" was more euphonious than "Six Towns", so he omitted Fenton (sometimes referred to as "the forgotten town"). He called Stoke "Knype" but used recognisable aliases for the other four towns.
Anna lives with her young step-sister Agnes and her twice-widowed father, Ephraim Tellwright, in Bursley. The latter, once an active preacher and teacher in the Methodist movement, has become a domestic tyrant and, because of his miserly attitude to money, a wealthy man.
On her 21st birthday, Ephraim unceremoniously hands Anna her unexpected inheritance from her grandmother; several parcels of shares and rented residential and industrial property that he has carefully hoarded and re-invested over the years. On paper, Anna is now a rich woman, but she has no experience in business and financial dealings, save the spending of the household expenses her father reluctantly hands over every week.
She visits the rundown ‘bank’ (earthenware manufactory) operated by Titus and Willie Price, which she now owns. The Prices’ business is grossly in debt and they claim to be unable to pay the back rent, but manage to give Anna a few pounds. She is also invited to visit the up-to-date and prosperous works of Henry Mynors, and is advised by Ephraim to invest in them as a ‘sleeping partner’. She is well aware that Mynors, who she knows through shared church activities, is in love with her, but is unsure of her own feelings.
Anna is invited to visit the Isle of Man by Alderman and Mrs Sutton, who see Anna as a ‘suitable’ friend for their indulged daughter, Beatrice. Mynors is also invited. By the end of the visit, Anna and Henry are engaged to be married, but Anna still harbours secret feelings for Willie Price, whom she also knows well from the Methodist movement.
On her return to Bursley, Anna is devastated to learn of the suicide of Titus Price. She blames herself and her father’s squeezing of the Prices’ business, but Willie comes to call and explains that the crash of a major customer was the catalyst for his father’s suicide.
It becomes clear that Willie must declare himself bankrupt, and the creditors (which include Anna) allow him enough money to emigrate to Australia. Mynors takes the large Price family residence for the marital home, even though it will need much refurbishment. He and Anna agree to marry as soon as possible, and make a home also for Agnes.
Henry discovers a discrepancy in church accounts, and it becomes apparent that the Prices have been embezzling money to prop up their business. Anna and Henry determine that they will jointly make up the shortfall so that the Prices will not be blamed. But the news leaks out anyway and the whole community is soon abuzz.
Anna decides that Willie should not leave Bursley empty-handed, and slips a note to him, on condition that he will not read it until he arrives in Melbourne. The note contains a money order (in the book, a 'bank-note') for one hundred pounds.
Anna and Henry marry. No more is heard of Willie Price; the story implies that he too commits suicide.
In 1985 a television series Anna of the Five Towns was produced by the BBC.
In 2011, Helen Edmundson wrote an adaptation of Anna of the Five Towns which was broadcast in two parts on BBC Radio 4.
Enoch Arnold Bennett was an English author, best known as a novelist. He was a prolific writer: between the start of his career in 1898 and his death he completed 34 novels, seven volumes of short stories, 13 plays, and a daily journal of more than a million words. He wrote articles and stories for more than 100 different newspapers and periodicals, worked in, and briefly ran, the Ministry of Information in the First World War, and wrote for the cinema in the 1920s.
The Keys of the Kingdom is a 1941 novel by A. J. Cronin. Spanning six decades, it tells the story of Father Francis Chisholm, an unconventional Scottish Catholic priest who struggles to establish a mission in China. Beset by tragedy in his youth, as a missionary Chisholm endures many years of hardship, punctuated by famine, plague and war in the Chinese province to which he is assigned. Through a life guided by compassion and tolerance, Chisholm earns the respect of the Chinese—and of fellow clergy who would mistrust him—with his kindly, high-minded and courageous ways.
Stoke-on-Trent is a city and unitary authority area in Staffordshire, England, with an area of 36 square miles (93 km2). Together with the neighbouring boroughs of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire Moorlands, it is part of North Staffordshire. In 2016, the city had a population of 261,302. It is the largest settlement in all of Staffordshire.
Hanley, in Staffordshire, England, is a constituent town of the City of Stoke-on-Trent. Hanley was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1857 and became a county borough with the passage of the Local Government Act 1888. In 1910, along with Burslem, Tunstall, Fenton, Longton and Stoke-upon-Trent it was federated into the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent. Hanley was the only one of the six towns to be a county borough before the merger; its status was transferred to the enlarged borough. In 1925, following the granting of city status, it became one of the six towns that constitute the City of Stoke-on-Trent.
A miser is a person who is reluctant to spend, sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts and some necessities, in order to hoard money or other possessions. Although the word is sometimes used loosely to characterise anyone who is mean with their money, if such behaviour is not accompanied by taking delight in what is saved, it is not properly miserly.
Fenton is a constituent town that amalgamated with Hanley, Tunstall, Burslem, Longton and Stoke-upon-Trent to form the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent in 1910, later raised to city status in 1925. Fenton is often referred to as "the Forgotten Town", because it was omitted by local author, Arnold Bennett, from many of his works based in the area, including one of his most famous novels, Anna of the Five Towns.
Burslem is a town that, along with Hanley, Tunstall, Fenton, Longton and Stoke-upon-Trent, is part of the city of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England.
Charlotte Rhead was an English ceramics designer active in the 1920s and the 1930s in the Potteries area of Staffordshire.
Longton is one of the six towns which amalgamated to form the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent in 1910, along with Hanley, Tunstall, Fenton, Burslem and Stoke-upon-Trent.
Desire Under the Elms is a 1924 play written by Eugene O'Neill. Like Mourning Becomes Electra, Desire Under the Elms signifies an attempt by O'Neill to adapt plot elements and themes of Greek tragedy to a rural New England setting. It was inspired by the myth of Phaedra, Hippolytus, and Theseus. A film version was produced in 1958, and there is an operatic setting by Edward Thomas.
Riceyman Steps is a novel by British novelist Arnold Bennett, first published in 1923 and winner of that year's James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. It follows a year in the life of Henry Earlforward, a miserly second-hand bookshop owner in the Clerkenwell area of London.
Robert Emrys James was a Welsh Shakespearean actor. He also performed in many theatre and TV parts between 1960 and 1989, and was an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was born in Machynlleth, the son of a railwayman, and attended the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
The Clayhanger Family is a series of novels by Arnold Bennett, published between 1910 and 1918. Though the series is commonly referred to as a "trilogy", and the first three novels were published in a single volume, as The Clayhanger Family, in 1925, there are actually four books. All four are set in the "Five Towns", Bennett's thinly disguised version of the six towns of the Staffordshire Potteries.
The Card is a musical with a book by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall and music and lyrics by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent.
Love's Abiding Joy is a 2006 made-for-television Christian drama film based on a series of books by Janette Oke. It was directed by Michael Landon Jr. and stars Erin Cottrell and Logan Bartholomew. It is the fourth movie in the Love Saga, which includes Love Comes Softly (2003), Love's Enduring Promise (2004), Love's Long Journey (2005), Love's Abiding Joy (2006), Love's Unending Legacy (2007), Love's Unfolding Dream (2007), Love Takes Wing (2009), and Love Finds a Home (2009), as well as the 2011 prequels, Love Begins and Love's Everlasting Courage.
The Keys of the Kingdom is a 1944 American film based on the 1941 novel The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin. The film was adapted by Nunnally Johnson, directed by John M. Stahl, and produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It stars Gregory Peck, Thomas Mitchell, and Vincent Price, and tells the story of the trials and tribulations of a Catholic priest who goes to China to evangelize.
The Card is a 1952 black-and-white film version of the 1911 novel by Arnold Bennett. Titled The Promoter for its American audience, it was adapted by Eric Ambler and directed by Ronald Neame. It starred Alec Guinness as Denry Machin, Glynis Johns as Ruth Earp, Valerie Hobson as the Countess, and Petula Clark as Nellie Cotterill. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound.
The federation of Stoke-on-Trent was the 1910 amalgamation of the six Staffordshire Potteries towns of Burslem, Tunstall, Stoke-upon-Trent, Hanley, Fenton and Longton into the single county borough of Stoke-on-Trent. An anomaly in the history of English local government, this was the first union of its type and the only such event to take place until the 1960s. The 1910 federation was the culmination of a process of urban growth and municipal change that started in the early 19th century.
The Furys Chronicle is a sequence of five novels, published between 1935 and 1958, by James Hanley (1897–1985). The main setting is the fictional, northern, English town of Gelton, which is based on Liverpool, where Hanley was born, and involves an Irish Catholic family of seafarers, similar to Hanley's own. The action takes place between 1911 and 1927. The first novel in the series, The Furys, was Hanley's sixth novel.
Anna of the Five Towns is a 1985 British television drama series which first aired on BBC 2. It is an adaptation of the 1902 novel of the same title by Arnold Bennett.
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