John Boynton Priestley (1894-1984) was an English novelist, playwright, and broadcaster who was renowned for his ability to capture the essence of the human condition. Born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, Priestley was the son of a schoolmaster and initially pursued a career in engineering before turning to writing. He was a prolific author, producing more than 50 novels, plays, and essays during his lifetime.
Priestley’s writing often explored the tensions between different social classes and the impact of historical events on individual lives. One of his most famous works, the play “An Inspector Calls,” is a scathing critique of the British class system and the selfishness of the wealthy. The play is set in 1912, just before the outbreak of World War I, and the arrival of an inspector who exposes the family’s secrets serves as a metaphor for the impending cataclysm of the war.
In addition to his literary achievements, Priestley was also a prominent broadcaster who presented several popular radio and television programs. He was an advocate for social justice and used his platform to promote progressive causes. Priestley was a member of the Labour Party and served as a councilor in Bradford. He also campaigned for nuclear disarmament and was a founder member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Throughout his life, Priestley remained committed to exploring the complexities of the human experience. He believed that literature had the power to illuminate the human condition and to help people understand their place in the world. His legacy as a writer and social commentator endures to this day, and his work continues to inspire and challenge readers and audiences around the world.
Let’s take a look at these 34 interesting facts about J. B. Priestley to know more about him.
- J.B. Priestley was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, on September 13, 1894.
- His full name was John Boynton Priestley.
- He was the son of a schoolmaster and his mother died when he was just two years old.
- Priestley attended grammar school in Bradford and later studied English literature at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.
- He served in the army during World War I, but was discharged due to ill health in 1918.
- Priestley began his writing career as a freelance journalist and literary critic.
- His first novel, “The Good Companions,” was published in 1929 and became an instant bestseller.
- Priestley’s most famous play, “An Inspector Calls,” was first performed in 1945 and has been staged countless times since then.
- He wrote more than 50 books, including novels, plays, and non-fiction works.
- Priestley was a member of the Communist Party from 1941 to 1943.
- He was a supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and wrote several essays on the dangers of atomic warfare.
- Priestley was married three times and had four children.
- He was an avid cyclist and enjoyed exploring the countryside on his bike.
- Priestley was a regular contributor to the New Statesman and Nation magazine.
- He was a member of the Royal Society of Literature and received numerous literary awards during his lifetime.
- Priestley was a strong advocate for social justice and wrote about the plight of the working class in many of his works.
- He was a pacifist and opposed the use of violence as a means of resolving conflicts.
- Priestley’s play “Dangerous Corner” was the first to use the device of a character revealing a secret, which later became a popular plot device in many other works.
- He wrote the screenplay for the 1949 film “The Passionate Friends,” which was directed by David Lean.
- Priestley was a frequent guest on the BBC’s “The Brains Trust” radio program in the 1940s and 1950s.
- He was awarded the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.
- Priestley was a collector of antique books and owned a large library of rare volumes.
- He wrote several autobiographical works, including “Margin Released” and “Instead of the Trees.”
- Priestley was a keen observer of the natural world and wrote several essays on the beauty of the countryside.
- He was a fan of the detective fiction genre and wrote several mysteries under the pseudonym “J.J. Marric.”
- Priestley was a supporter of the Labour Party and served as a councillor in Bradford from 1919 to 1922.
- He was a friend of the writer Aldous Huxley and corresponded with him throughout his life.
- Priestley was a frequent traveler and visited many countries throughout his life, including the United States, France, and Italy.
- He was an early advocate of environmentalism and wrote several essays on the need to protect the natural world.
- Priestley was a fan of jazz music and wrote several articles on the subject.
- He was a member of the English PEN organization, which promotes freedom of expression and defends writers who are persecuted for their work.
- Priestley’s play “Time and the Conways” features a non-linear narrative structure, with the action moving back and forth in time.
- He was a critic of the monarchy and wrote several essays on the need to abolish the institution.
- Priestley died on August 14, 1984, at the age of 89, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where he had lived for many years.
J.B. Priestley was a prolific and multi-talented writer who explored the complexities of the human condition in his novels, plays, and essays. His work was characterized by a deep concern for social justice, a keen eye for detail, and a belief in the power of literature to transform lives. Throughout his life, Priestley was committed to advancing progressive causes and promoting the importance of human connection and community. His legacy as a writer and social commentator endures to this day, and his insights into the human experience continue to inspire and challenge readers and audiences around the world.