Tales of the Five Towns

Read by Martin Clifton

(4.6 stars; 63 reviews)

This is a selection of short stories recounting, with gentle satire and tolerant good humour, the small town provincial life at the end of the nineteenth century, based around the six towns in the county of Staffordshire, England, known as the Potteries. Arnold Bennett chose to fictionalize these towns by changing their names and omitting one (Fenton) as he apparently felt that “Five Towns” was more euphonious than “Six Towns”. The real town names which are thinly disguised in the novel are: Hanley, Longton, Burslem and Tunstal, the fifth, Stoke, became “Knype”.

Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was born in Hanley, the eldest child of a pawnbroker who subsequently became a solicitor. Bennett’s father wished him to become a solicitor too, but he failed his university entrance examination and instead became a solicitor's clerk, at first in his father's office and, from 1889, in London.

He showed early promise as a writer winning a writing competition in a local newspaper as a boy. In London he began to see his writing published in popular magazines and he joined the staff of ‘Woman’ magazine in 1893.

His first novel to be published, A Man from the North, appeared in 1898 and its success allowed him to give up other work to concentrate on writing. His first short story (A Letter Home) was written in 1893 and appears in Tales of the Five Towns. (Summary by Martin Clifton) (5 hr 39 min)


01 - His Worship the Goosedriver 41:16 Read by Martin Clifton
02 - The Elixir of Youth 18:30 Read by Martin Clifton
03 - Mary with the High Hand 31:58 Read by Martin Clifton
04 - The Dog 29:33 Read by Martin Clifton
05 - A Feud 42:31 Read by Martin Clifton
06 - Phantom 28:33 Read by Martin Clifton
07 - Tiddy-Fol-Lol 15:03 Read by Martin Clifton
08 - The Idiot 12:29 Read by Martin Clifton
09 - The Hungarian Rhapsody 36:53 Read by Martin Clifton
10 - The Sisters Qita 12:52 Read by Martin Clifton
11 - Nocturne at the majestic 42:24 Read by Martin Clifton
12 - Clarice of the Autumn Concerts 10:49 Read by Martin Clifton
13 - A Letter Home 16:44 Read by Martin Clifton


worth a listen

(5 stars)

Very well read interesting short stories certainly worth a listen. Big thanks to reader you have done justice to the skill of the author by bringing his work to life. Good tempo and clear reading voice. Super.


(4.5 stars)

Bennet is a superb storyteller, able to make evev the mundane interesting. The reader is extremely good. Thank you.

good mix of stories

(5 stars)

a nice mix of the authors story telling styles. well read.

(5 stars)

Totally absorbing short stories, masterly conceived and crafted by Arnold Bennett and excellently read by Martin Clifton. Thank you so much, Martin (if I may). NB For reasons specific to me, I rarely bother to read or listen to short stories but would be sorry to leave any of AB’s writings unread.

(4.5 stars)

Worth reading because it contains some of his better stories, and the reader does a good job. I like the respect Bennett gives characters whose statuses in life are the more common in life. There's an edge of melodrama in many that's not typical of current literature....but so what? Enjoy!

Very nice recording

(5 stars)

Originally published in 1902, a novel set in the Potteries region, which tells the story of a miser's daughter who inherits a fortune. Very well read by Martin Clifton. Many thanks for your generosity.

really good

(5 stars)

most of the stories were great a couple of them were not my favorites but on all of them the narrator is fantastic.

(5 stars)

The reading is superb. The storytelling is first rate, but only listen to this collection if you aren't in need of cheering up.