Stepping into Armley’s History: Alan Bennett – a local lad made good

Alan Bennett is immortalised in a paving stone on Armley Town Street. Photo: Susan Johnson

By Susan Johnson

Alan Bennett was born in Armley in 1934, one of two children to Walter, a Co-op butcher, and his mother Lilian Mary.

As a young boy he attended Christ Church Upper Armley Church of England School. Coincidentally another Town Street paving stone is dedicated to one of his classmates, Barbara Taylor Bradford. He then attended Leeds Modern (now Lawnswood School) before gaining a place at Oxford University.

Bennett went on to become a famous and successful playwright, author, screen writer and actor among many other accomplishments and awards.

The characters, satire and comedy which he writes about can be traced back to his Northern roots, although he has been domiciled for many years in London.

Coming from a humble working class background he commented that he wanted to acknowledge our welfare state for giving him educational opportunities which his family would have never afforded.

He then announced he was donating his entire archive material to the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Through his humour and pathos he has brought pleasure to many people all over the world. His writings are still relevant to today’s events and through TV and film adaptations he is more popular today than he has ever been.

Read more of Susan’s ‘Stepping Back’ column here. The column looks at the history which is etched beneath our feet into heritage paving stones in Armley Town Street.

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