He was the third son of Robert Coles Arnold, a justice of the peace of Framfield, Sussex, and was the younger brother of the poet, Edwin Arnold, and was born in Gravesend, Kent He was educated privately and trained as a surveyor and land agent.
In 1861 he was involved in the surveying operations prior to the construction of the Thames Embankment. Two years later he was appointed under Public Works (Manufacturing Districts) Act as an Assistant Commissioner (and later Inspector) of Public Works in Lancashire, during the Cotton Famine, and subsequently wrote A History of the Cotton Famine. In his spare time he was a writer, and published two "sensation" novels: Ralph, or St Sepulchre's and St Stephen's (1863) and Hever Court (1867). He made a tour of southern and eastern Europe in 1867, and became a strong supporter of the Kingdom of Greece a position he set out in From the Levant. In 1873 he was awarded the Golden Cross of the Order of the Saviour of Greece.
He was a member of the Radical faction of the Liberal Party, and in 1868 was the first editor of The Echo, a Liberal evening paper. In 1873 was an unsuccessful candidate for a by-election at Huntingdon. In 1875 soon after the sale of the Echo to Albert Grant, Arnold resigned his editorship and journeyed through the Middle East with his wife. He published an account of the thousand-mile journey in 1877 as Through Persia by Caravan. In 1878 he published a collection of his political writings as Social Politics. Among causes he supported were disestablishment of the Church of England, land law reform, reform of local government in The Metropolis, nationalisation of railways, women's suffrage and support for the temperance movement.
In 1880 he was elected as one of two members of parliament for Salford, with the Liberals gaining both seats at the expense of the Conservatives. The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 split the parliamentary borough of Salford into three single-member divisions, and Arnold stood unsuccessfully for the new Salford North constituency in 1885 and 1886. At the 1892 general election he stood at Dorset North, but again failed to be elected.
On the creation of the London County Council in 1889, Arnold was elected as a county alderman, and was chairman of the council from 1895 - 1897. He was knighted in 1895. He was also a Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for the County of London, and a Board of Trade Harbour Commissioner and JP for Dartmouth.
Sir Arthur Arnold died suddenly at his Kensington, London, home in May 1902, aged 68.
- Arnold, Arthur (1877). The promises of Turkey. London: Eastern Question Association.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "S" (part 1)[self-published source][better source needed]
- Sidney Lee, ed. (1912). "Arnold, Arthur". Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Obituary: Sir Arthur Arnold, The Times, 21 May 1902, p.6
- G. S. Woods, rev. Jonathan Spain (2004). "Arnold, Sir (Robert) Arthur (1833–1902)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
- John Sutherland, The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction, Stanford University Press, 1989
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- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Arthur Arnold
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Oliver Ormerod Walker
William Thomas Charley
|Member of Parliament for Salford
1880 – 1885
With: Benjamin Armitage
Sir John Hutton
|Chairman of the London County Council
1895 – 1897
Dr William Job Collins