Malcolm Henry Arnold was born in Northampton on 21 October 1921, the youngest son of William and Annie Arnold. Mrs Arnold, born Annie Hawes, could trace her family back to sixteenth-century Norfolk, and counted amongst her ancestors the Regency composer William Hawes. Mr Arnold’s family has been traced back only as far as his grandfather Matthew who was a poor shoemaker in the village of Everdon, about twelve miles from Northampton. Malcolm Arnold was severely asthmatic and came close to death on a number of occasions, his illness did not stop him attending school. From the age of six to eleven he was a pupil at Eaglehurst College, a small private school of some 100 pupils not far from the family home in Northampton. One of the high spots of Arnold’s early life was a chance meeting at the Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth with Louis Armstrong and his wife Lillian.