Arnold Bennett at the MOI

I’ve just added a new piece to my online ‘Pieces of Longer Writing’.

It’s the text of a paper I gave at an Arnold Bennett Society conference in Stoke in 2017, giving an account of Bennett’s work when he was at the Ministry of Information in 1918.

For a long while it was thought that all such MOI files had been disposed of after the War, but at Kew there is a large folder devoted to the work that Bennett was doing in the French section. It’s probably very incomplete, only retaining examples that might have been of interest after the War, but there is enough to give a sense of Bennett’s style as an administrator – crisp, clear and efficient.

I was especially struck by his exchanges with Conan Doyle, where he is trying to persuade Doyle to contribute a propaganda piece for the French press. Doyle had been put off by the previous inefficiencies of the official propaganda organisation, and was unwilling, but Bennett kept on hammering away at him.

The file also shows the sort of information that Bennett was receiving from France, especially about French distrust of the British after the German advance of March 1918, when it was the British line that broke.

The paper can be found at: https://greatwarfiction.wordpress.com/arnold-bennett-at-the-ministry-of-information/

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