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J. B. Priestley
J. B. Priestley in his younger years
J. B. Priestley in his younger years
Born (1894-09-13)13 September 1894
Manningham, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died 14 August 1984(1984-08-14) (aged 89)
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Period 20th century

John Boynton Priestley, OM ( 13 September 1894 – 14 August 1984), as pen name J. B. Priestly was an English novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, social commentator and broadcaster.

His Yorkshire background is reflected in much of his fiction, notably in The Good Companions (1929), which first brought him to wide public notice. Many of his plays are structured around a time slip, and he went on to develop a new theory of time, with different dimensions that link past, present, and future.

In 1940, he broadcast a series of short propaganda radio shows that were credited with strengthening civilian morale during the Battle of Britain. His left-wing beliefs brought him into conflict with the government, and influenced the birth of the Welfare State. The programme was eventually cancelled by the BBC for being too critical of the Government.

He was a founding member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958. He is perhaps best known for his 1945 play An Inspector Calls.

NMM Priestley 01
Statue outside the National Media Museum

The University of Bradford awarded Priestley the title of honorary Doctor of Letters in 1970, and he was awarded the Freedom of the City of Bradford in 1973. His connections with the city were also marked by the naming of the J. B. Priestley Library at the University of Bradford, which he officially opened in 1975, and by the larger-than-life statue of him, commissioned by the Bradford City Council after his death, and which now stands in front of the National Media Museum.


Priestley began placing his papers at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin in 1960, with additions being made throughout his lifetime. The Center has continued to add to the collection through gifts and purchases when possible. The collection currently amounts to roughly 23 boxes, and includes original manuscripts for many of his works and an extensive series of correspondence.


  • Adam in Moonshine. (1927)
  • Benighted (1928) (filmed as "The Old Dark House")
  • The Good Companions (1929)
  • Angel Pavement (1930)
  • Faraway (1932)
  • Wonder Hero (1933)
  • They Walk in the City (1936)
  • The Doomsday Men (1937)
  • Let the People Sing (1939)
  • Blackout in Gretley (1942)
  • Daylight on Saturday (1943)
  • Three Men in New Suits (1945)
  • Bright Day (1946)
  • Jenny Villiers (1947)
  • Festival at Farbridge (1951)
  • Low Notes on a High Level (1954)
  • The Magicians (1954)
  • Saturn over the Water (1961)
  • The Thirty-First of June (1961)
  • Salt Is Leaving (1961)
  • The Shapes of Sleep (1962)
  • Sir Michael and Sir George (1964)
  • Lost Empires (1965)
  • It's an Old Country (1967)
  • The Image Men Vol. 1: Out of Town (1968)
  • The Image Men Vol. 2: London End (1968)
  • Found, Lost, Found (1976)

Other fiction

  • Farthing Hall (1929) (Novel written in collaboration with Hugh Walpole)
  • The Town Major of Miraucourt (1930) (Short story published in a limited edition of 525 copies)
  • I'll Tell You Everything (1932) (Novel written in collaboration with Gerald Bullett)
  • Albert Goes Through (1933) (Novelette)
  • The Other Place (1952) (Short Stories)
  • Snoggle (1971) (Novel for children)
  • The Carfitt Crisis (1975) (Two novellas and a short story)
Novelizations by Ruth Mitchell (author of the wartime novel The Lost Generation and Priestley's sister-in-law by way of his second marriage):
  • Dangerous Corner (1933), based on the later Broadway draft of the play, with a foreword by Priestley (paperback)
  • Laburnum Grove (1936), based on the play and subsequent screenplay, published as a hardcover tie-in edition to the film

Selected plays

  • Dangerous Corner (1932)
  • Laburnum Grove (1933)
  • Eden End (1934)
  • Cornelius (1935)
  • Time and the Conways (1937)
  • I Have Been Here Before (1937)
  • When We Are Married (1938)
  • Johnson Over Jordan (1939)
  • The Long Mirror (1940)
  • They Came to a City (1943)
  • An Inspector Calls (1945)
  • The Linden Tree (1947)
  • Mother's Day (1950)
  • Last Holiday (1950, wrote story, screenplay and produced the film)
  • The Thirty-first of June: A Tale of True Love, Enterprise and Progress in the Arthurian and AD-Atomic Ages
    • Novel. December 1961: Hardback; (UK edition); Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd
    • BBC radio dramatisation; one and a half hours
    • Novel. 1996: Paperback; (UK edition); Publisher: Mandarin
    • June 31st (1978) (TV) Soviet film; aka 31 июня
  • Benighted (2016, adapted from his 1928 novel by Duncan Gates.)

Television work

  • You Know What People Are (1955)
  • Armchair Theatre: Now Let Him Go (ABC – 15 September 1957)
  • Doomsday for Dyson (Granada – 10 March 1958)
  • Out of the Unknown: Level Seven (BBC2 – 27 October 1966, adaptation of a story by Mordecai Roshwald)
  • Shadows: The Other Window (Thames – 15 October 1975, co-written with Jacquetta Hawkes)

Literary criticism

  • The English Comic Characters (1925)
  • The English Novel (1927)
  • Literature and Western Man (1960)
  • Charles Dickens and his world (1969)
  • English Journey (1934)
  • Out of the people (1941)
  • The Secret Dream: an essay on Britain, America and Russia (1946)
  • The Arts under Socialism (1947)
  • The Prince of Pleasure and his Regency (1969)
  • The Edwardians (1970)
  • Victoria's Heyday (1972)
  • The English (1973)
  • A Visit to New Zealand (1974)

Autobiography and essays

  • Essays of To-day and Yesterday (1926)
  • Apes and Angels (1928)
  • The Balconinny (1931)
  • Midnight on the Desert (1937)
  • Rain Upon Godshill: A Further Chapter of Autobiography (1939)
  • Postscripts (1940)
  • Delight (1949)
  • Journey Down a Rainbow (1955)
  • Margin Released (1962)
  • Man and Time (1964)
  • The Moments and Other Pieces (1966)
  • Over the Long High Wall (1972)
  • Instead of the Trees (1977)

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