J. B. Priestley

J. B. Priestley

Infobox Writer
name = John Boynton Priestley

imagesize = 180px
caption = J. B. Priestley
pseudonym =
birthdate = birth date|1894|09|13|df=y
birthplace = Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
deathdate = death date and age|1984|08|14|1894|09|13|df=y
deathplace = Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England
occupation = Writer
nationality =
period = 20th century
genre =
subject =
movement =
influences =
influenced =

website = http://www.jbpriestley.co.uk/

John Boynton Priestley, OM (13 September, 1894 – 14 August, 1984) was an English writer and broadcaster.


Early years

Priestley was born in what he described as an "ultra-respectable" suburb of Bradford. His father was a headteacher whilst his mother died young. On leaving grammar school Priestley worked in the wool trade of his native city, but had ambitions to become a writer. He was to draw on memories of Bradford in many of the works he wrote after he had moved south. As an old man he deplored the destruction by developers of Victorian buildings such as the Swan Arcade in Bradford where he had his first job.

Priestley served during the First World War in the 10th battalion, the Duke of Wellington's Regiment. He was wounded in 1916 by mortar fire. After his military service Priestley received a university education at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. By the age of 30 he had established a reputation as a humorous writer and critic. His 1927 novel "Benighted" was adapted into the James Whale film "The Old Dark House" in 1932.


Priestley's first major success came with a novel, "The Good Companions" (1929) which earned him the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and made him a national figure. His next novel "Angel Pavement" (1930) further established him as a successful novelist. However, some critics were less than complimentary about his work, and Priestley began legal action against Graham Greene for what he took to be a defamatory portrait in "Stamboul Train".

He moved into a new genre and became as well known as a dramatist. "Dangerous Corner" began a run of plays that enthralled West End theatre audiences. His best-known play is "An Inspector Calls" (1946), later made into a film starring Alastair Sim in 1954. His plays are more varied in tone than the novels, several being influenced by J.W. Dunne's theory of time, which plays a part in the plots of "Dangerous Corner" (1932) and "Time and the Conways" (1937).

Many of his works have a political aspect. For example, "An Inspector Calls", as well as being a "Time Play", contains many references to socialism — the inspector was arguably an alter ego through which Priestley could express his views [http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/theatre-musicals-national/an-inspector-calls/1023475/] .During World War II he was a regular broadcaster on the BBC. The Sunday night "Postscript" broadcasts through 1940 and again in 1941 drew audiences of up to 16 million; only Churchill was more popular with listeners. But his talks were cancelled, apparently as a result of complaints from Churchill that they were too left-wingcite web |title= " Priestley war letters published" |publisher= BBC News website |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7655113.stm |accessdate= 2008-06-10] . He chaired the 1941 Committee and, in 1942, he was a co-founder of the socialist Common Wealth Party. The political content of his broadcasts and Priestley's hopes of a new and different England after the war influenced the politics of the period and helped the Labour Party gain its landslide victory in the 1945 general election. Priestley himself, however, was distrustful of the state and dogma.

Priestley wrote the travelogue "An English Journey" in 1934, which is an account of what he saw and heard while travelling through the country in the autumn of the previous year.

His interest in the problem of time led him to publish an extended essay in 1964 under the title of "Man and Time" (Aldus published this as a companion to Carl Jung´s "Man and His Symbols"). In this book he explored in depth various theories and beliefs about time as well as his own research and unique conclusions, including an analysis of the phenomenon of precognitive dreaming, based in part on a broad sampling of experiences gathered from the British public who responded enthusiastically to a televised appeal he made while being interviewed in 1963 on the BBC programme, "Monitor". Priestley managed the treatment of this potentially esoteric subject matter with warmth and competence.

Although Priestley never wrote a formal book of memoirs, his literary reminiscences, "Margin Released", provide valuable insights into the author's work. The section dealing with his job as a teenage clerk in a Bradford wool-sorter's office manages to weave fine literature from an outwardly unpromising subject - a characteristic of many of his novels.

A special collector edition of "Bright Days" was re-issued by Great Northern Books in 2006, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the publication of this novel.cite web | title=Bright Day: A special collectors' edition, by J. B. Priestley | publisher=Great Northern Books | url=http://www.gnbooks.co.uk/books/1905080182.shtml | accessdate=2007-10-10]

Personal life

Priestley was one of the interviewees for the documentary series "The World at War" (1973), in the episode "Alone: May 1940–May 1941".

He was a founding member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958. He declined lesser honours before accepting the Order of Merit in 1977.

He was married three times. In 1921 he married Pat Tempest, and in 1922 two daughters were born. In September 1926, he married Jane Wyndham-Lewis; together, they produced two daughters and one son. In 1953, he divorced his second wife and married Jacquetta Hawkes, his collaborator on "Dragon's Mouth".cite web |title= Biography |publisher= J. B. Priestly website |url= http://www.jbpriestley.co.uk/bio.php |accessdate= 2007-07-28]

ee also

*J. W. Dunne
*An Experiment with Time
*J. B. Priestley's Time Plays
*Time and the Conways



* Brome, Vincent (1988). "J.B. Priestley." ISBN 0-241-12560-X
* Cook, Judith (1997). "Priestley." ISBN 0-7475-3508-6
* [http://www.gnbooks.co.uk/books/1905080182.shtml Bright Day: A special collectors' edition, by J.B. Priestley]
* [http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3AJohn%20Boynton%20Priestley%20-contributor%3Agutenberg%20AND%20mediatype%3Atexts Works by J. B. Priestley] at Internet Archive

External links

* [http://www.jbpriestley.co.uk/ Website on JB Priestley]
* [http://www.jbpriestley-society.com/ J.B. Priestley Society]
* [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jpriestley.htm Brief biography]
* [http://www.brad.ac.uk/library/special/priestley.php J B Priestley collection at the University of Bradford]

NAME= Priestley, John Boynton
DATE OF BIRTH= 1894-09-13
PLACE OF BIRTH= Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
DATE OF DEATH= 1984-08-14
PLACE OF DEATH= Warwickshire, England

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Priestley — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Brian Priestley (* 1940), britischer Jazz Autor Chris Priestley (* 1958), britischer Autor, Illustrator und Cartoonist Dennis Priestley (* 1950), englischer Dartspieler Jason Priestley (* 1969),… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • PRIESTLEY (J.) — PRIESTLEY JOSEPH (1733 1804) Chimiste anglais, théologien, chef principal (avec Theophilus Lindsey), du mouvement des unitariens ou antitrinitaires, pédagogue et théoricien politique, né à Birstall Fieldhead (près de Leeds) et mort à… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Priestley —   [ priːstlɪ],    1) J. B. (John Boynton), englischer Schriftsteller, * Bradford (Metropolitan County West Yorkshire) 13. 9. 1894, ✝ Stratford upon Avon 14. 8. 1984. Priestley war Journalist und Kritiker (»George Meredith«, 1926; »Thomas Love… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Priestley — is an English surname. It may refer to:* Dennis Priestley a two time World Darts Champion and the first player to win both BDO and WDC World Championship Crowns. * Jason Priestley an American actor who starred in the TV show, Beverly Hills, 90210 …   Wikipedia

  • Priestley Peak — (coord|67|12|S|50|23|E|) is a peak between Mount Pardoe and Mount Tod on the south side of Amundsen Bay in Enderby Land. Sighted on January 14, 1930, by British Australian New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) under Mawson, who… …   Wikipedia

  • Priestley — Priestley, John Boynton Priestley, Joseph …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Priestley — (John Boynton) (1894 1984) romancier anglais: les Bons Compagnons (1929), les Magiciens (1954). Priestley (Joseph) (1733 1804) théologien, physicien et chimiste anglais. Il isola l oxygène (1774) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Priestley — (spr. Prihstli), Jos., geb. 13. März 1733 zu Fieldhead bei Leeds in Yorkshire; wurde 1761 Lehrer der Theologie an der Akademie zu Warrington u. 1768 Prediger der Socinianer in Leeds. Bei seinem großen Eifer für Vernunftreligion sah man ihn als… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Priestley — (spr. prīstli), Joseph, Theolog, Philosoph, Chemiker und Physiker, geb. 13. März 1733 in Fieldhead bei Leeds, gest. 6. Febr. 1804 auf seinem Landgute bei Philadelphia, studierte Theologie, ward 1755 Prediger der Independenten zu Needham Market in …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Priestley — (spr. prihstlĕ), Joseph, engl. Theolog, Philosoph, Chemiker und Physiker, geb. 13. März 1733 zu Fieldhead bei Leeds, 1780 Prediger einer Dissentergemeinde zu Birmingham, gest. 6. Febr. 1804 zu Northumberland (Pennsylvanien), entdeckte 1774 den… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Priestley — (–li), Joseph, geb. 1733 zu Fieldhead, engl. Geistlicher bei einer Dissentersgemeinde; von den hochkirchlichen Theologen wegen seiner socinianischen Grundsätze, von den Torys u. dem Pöbel wegen seiner offenen Billigung der nordamerikan. u. franz …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.