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Summary Article: Priestley, J(ohn) B(oynton) (1894–1984) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English novelist and dramatist. His best-known plays are the mysterious and puzzling An Inspector Calls (1945) and The Linden Tree (1948), a study of post-war social issues. Priestley had a gift for family comedy, which is seen in When We Are Married (1938). He was also known for his wartime BBC broadcasts and literary criticism, such as Literature and Western Man (1960). He was a stern critic of the social effects of 20th-century modernization, and in his work he fondly reflects his youth in Edwardian Yorkshire.

Priestley was born in Bradford and educated at Cambridge University. He served with the Devonshire Regiment during World War I and afterwards worked in London as a reviewer and critic. After publishing two novels, Adam in Moonshine (1927) and Benighted (1927), he scored a noteworthy success with The Good Companions (1929), about travelling theatre. He followed it with a realist novel about London life, Angel Pavement (1930). His career as a dramatist began with Dangerous Corner (1932), one of several plays in which time is a preoccupation.

Among his other novels are Wonder Hero (1933), They Walk in the City (1936), Let the People Sing (1940), Bright Day (1946), Jenny Villiers (1947), Low Notes on a High Level (1954), and Lost Empires (1965). Other plays include Eden End (1935), Time and the Conways (1937), I Have Been Here Before (1938), Johnson over Jordan (1939), The Glass Cage (1956), and the popular comedy Laburnum Grove (1933). Many of his essays are collected in Essays of Five Decades (1969); he also wrote several non-fiction studies, A Short History of the English Novel (1927), The Edwardians (1970), Victoria's Heyday (1972), English Humour (1977), and Moments in the Wilderness (1957), a collection of his writings from the New Statesman. Midnight on the Desert (1937) is autobiographical. Later novels include Festival at Farbridge (1951) and The Image Men (1968).

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Priestley, J(ohn) B(oynton)

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