John Boynton Priestley (1894-1984)

John Boynton Priestley was born in 1894 in Bradford. He started writing in 1919. Now he is known all over the world. Priestley was not only a famous writer but an excellent storyteller, critic and essayist. He could entertain his readers. More than that, he wrote plays that were very popular when they were first performed and are still produced today.

Priestley started as an essayist, and then he began writing novels. His first novel appeared in 1929 under the title “The Good Companions”. It was a success. The author reveals the scenes of small provincial towns with their drab and dingy hotels and inns, old theatres and dirty buildings. In 1930 his novel “Angel Pavement” was published. The fate of the broken timber firm is described in this novel. The author skilfully reveals the atmosphere of unemployment, fear of never getting the job and fear of losing the job. Priestley depicts the feelings of unhappy workers who lose hope for better life.

It is interesting to know that John Boynton Priestley wrote more than forty plays. The most famous of them are “Dangerous Corner” (1932), “Time and the Conways” (1937) and “An Inspector Calls” (1946).

Time and the Conways” moves the time of the events of the play from the past to the present and back to the past again so that the audience can see the characters in their present situation and its contrast with their earlier hopes and intentions.

An Inspector Calls” shows how each member of a family slowly understands that he or she is responsible, because a girl who knew them all in different ways has killed herself.

In his short novels Priestley draws the readers’ attention towards different episodes of the wartime “blackout”, the coming of demobilization, release, and entertainment. His works are admired outside Britain. He has distinguished himself as a prominent, the most fertile writer. But there is no doubt that John Boynton Priestley creates in his personal, belonging to no trend or “school” style. “My own choice”, he wrote, “is Broad Comedy, which is stronger in situation than Light Comedy. […] It is, I believe, peculiarly suitable to the English temperament; it is the field of comedy in which I have chosen to work”. (“J.B. Priestley”, I. Brown)

The detective novel is a form that became very popular towards the end of the 19th century, particularly through the “Sherlock Holmes” stories of Arthur Conan Doyle.

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