J. A. W. Bennett

Deceased Person from United Kingdom

Jack Arthur Walter Bennett (1911 – 1981) a New Zealand-born literary scholar, studied first at Auckland University, where he is described by biographer James McNeish as 'poor and deserving' before going on to Oxford University, where, still indigent, he survived on a diet of Cornish pasties. In McNeish's book Dance of the Peacocks, he is noted as a member of what was to be described in British academe as the Oxford 'New Zealand Mafia' (pp. 356-364) , a loose-knit group of extraordinarily gifted young men from New Zealand who studied - mostly at Oxford University - before the Second World War. The link between them was to endure for the rest of their lives. It included Jack Mulgan, Dan Davin, James Bertram, Paddy Costello, Charles Brasch, Norman Davis and Ian Milner. McNeish describes Bennett as "at an angle, separated by the exuberance of his scholarship, his saintliness, and his forgetfulness ...he considered himself lucky to have got the Scholarship [to Oxford], since he forgot to include any testimonials with his application" (p. 29). McNeish also mentions Bennett's work with the British Intelligence Service in the US during the Second World War: asked to help out for a few  ( Wikipedia article )


Personal facts

Date of birth
United Kingdom


Date of death

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