Analysis of J. B. Priestley’s Plays

Much of J. B. Priestley’s ((13 September 1894 – 14 August 1984)) drama explores the oneness of all human beings. That notion leads the dramatist to view individuals as members of a charmed or magic circle. The circle is continually broken, but Priestley, the essential optimist, believed that the circle can and must be mended as people accept responsibility for their fellow human beings. The family, then, with its temporary victories, its too frequently dashed dreams, its individuals pulling the circle out of shape only to have it reshaped by the family’s wiser members, becomes the microcosm of the world. That world, however, is continually buffeted by time. Priestley therefore viewed the family through a multiple time perspective. He was conscious of time past, time present, even future time. Occasionally he enabled an especially perceptive character to understand his place in flowing time, but he always led his audience to an awareness that all time is one. Even in an early commercial success such as the melodramatic Dangerous Corner, Priestley implied that a family shattered by the sordid past deeds of one of its members can find life anew. It need not be bound by the past, and a new awareness in the present may even reshape a past. The return to the beginning and a second chance for the characters of Dangerous Corner, though perhaps a mere theatrical gimmick in this early play, foreshadows Priestley’s more thoughtful view of the Family of Man in time in Eden End, Time and the Conways, Johnson over Jordan, and An Inspector Calls.


Eden End

Time provides Eden End its richest dimension. Eschewing the gimmickry of Dangerous Corner’s celebrated time twist, Priestley made extraordinary use of dramatic irony in Eden End, a realistic family drama set in 1912. Not only are his characters about to lose their innocence but also an entire world is about to be plunged into the horrors of a war from which it can never recover. As characters speak of a better time to come, the audience is fully aware of darkening shadows on the horizon. Time itself evokes Eden End’s autumnal atmosphere, making the play a threnody for a glorious but doomed world, which must inevitably give way to a material, technological advancement, spelling the end of the safe and sane values of love and loyalty and the quiet pleasures of a life lived in the service of others. As the Kirby family inevitably breaks apart, Eden comes to an end.

The widower Dr. Kirby, a general practitioner who has always longed for something more from his career, is suffering from a heart condition that will soon kill him. He has with him in Eden End, in northern England, his younger daughter, Lilian, who serves as his housekeeper, and crotchety old Sarah, who was nurse to his three children and has been retained beyond her years of usefulness. Expected to arrive is Wilfred, the youngest of the children, home on leave from the British West Africa Company. However, an unexpected arrival, Stella, Lilian’s older sister and the family prodigal, disrupts a stable family situation. Stella had left the limited horizons of Eden End to pursue an unsuccessful career as an actress. Aware now that the only happy period in her life was her youth in Eden End, she learns before the play ends that one’s youth cannot be recaptured; to expect miracles is a pointless pastime. Eden End can no longer be for her the haven she has imagined, and she must return to the actress’s life of tiring railway journeys, uncomfortable lodgings, and dusty dressing rooms.

Before her departure, which signals a return to normalcy for the others, Stella attempts to rekindle the love of Geoffrey Farant, who runs a nearby estate. Lilian, however, herself interested in Geoffrey, retaliates by bringing Charlie Appleby, another second-rate actor and Stella’s estranged husband, to Eden End to confront her. On learning that Stella is married, Geoffrey plans to relocate in New Zealand, inadvertently dashing the hopes of Lilian, who has for many years been quietly contemplating a home of her own with the man she loves. Reconciled, Stella and Charlie make a seemingly futile attempt to renew their life together, while Wilfred, frustrated by an aborted relationship with a local barmaid, takes his disappointment back with him to Nigeria, where he will wait patiently for his next unfulfilling leave.

Knowing that his own death is approaching, Dr. Kirby ironically comforts himself with the mistaken notion of a bright future that he believes life holds in store for his children and for the baby he has just delivered. If no dreams come true, if life holds only the promise of hardship and heartbreak in Eden End, it is left to Charlie Appleby to proclaim the reward that life offers to all. That he is inebriated at the time does not diminish the truth of his observation that life is full of wonder. Pain is part of life’s wonder, and humankind is the richer for experiencing it, especially in those moments in which the experience is shared with others. Dr. Kirby is not the failure he believes himself to be, but a good man who has shared the life of family and community.

In a brief critical study, Anton Chekhov (1970), Priestley makes clear his admiration and affection for the plays of the Russian master, and in Eden End he demonstrates that he has been an apt pupil. Priestly’s method is Chekhov’s own as he sustains a mood dependent on depth of characterization and wealth of detail. Stella incorporates the qualities of Madame Ranevskaya of The Cherry Orchard, Nina of Chayka (pr. 1896, rev. pr. 1898; The Seagull, 1909), and Elena of Dyadya Vanya (pb. 1897; Uncle Vanya, 1914) as she tries to win the man loved by her more practical sister Lilian, who recalls Uncle Vanya’s Sonia and Varya of The Cherry Orchard. Lilian even has a brief exchange with Geoffrey Farant in which, like Varya and Lopakhin, they avoid any discussion of their personal relationship by talking about the weather instead.Wilfred is as much the idle dreamer as Gaev, and Dr. Kirby recalls a number of Chekhov’s sad and wise doctors. Like old Firs, Sarah emphasizes a bewildering, rapidly changing world. She still thinks of her charges as children and fails to come to terms with the technology of motorcars and phonographs. When the others go off to the station at the play’s end, Sarah, like Firs, is left behind and ignores the ringing telephone that replaces Chekhov’s breaking string.

Despite the similarities, however, Eden End is no mere imitation of Chekhov. The play exquisitely evokes the life of provincial England in the second decade of the twentieth century, and English audiences, deeply moved by it, responded enthusiastically. The minute details of English life in another era, however, may finally work against the play’s achieving universality, and it has not found favor abroad. Acknowledging that Chekhov has influenced many English dramatists, Priestley himself suggested that he and others were better for that influence. Eden End ranks among the finest plays of the Chekhovian mode.

Time and the Conways

Priestley, who called himself “a Time haunted man,” inevitably turned again to time as the controlling factor in human life in Time and the Conways, a play highly influenced by the theories of Dunne. In An Experiment with Time, Dunne, the designer of Great Britain’s first military aircraft, attempts to explain the experience of precognition, that sense of déjà vu in which human beings, through the distortion of dream, receive foreknowledge of future events displaced in time. Dunne’s quasi-scientific theory provides for a series of observers within every person existing in a series of times. To a person’s ordinary self, Observer One, the fourth dimension appears as time. The self within dreams, however, is Observer Two, to whom the fifth dimension appears as time. Unlike the three-dimensional outlook of Observer One, Observer Two has a four-dimensional outlook that enables him or her to receive images from the coexisting times of past and future. Part of the appeal of Dunne’s so-called theory of Serialism is its provision for immortality: Observer One dies in time one but lives on within Observer Two in time two, and so on to “infinite regression.” Time and the Conways is Priestley’s rendering of abstruse theory into poignantly effective literature. Revisiting the world of his own past, he infuses it with an awareness of the effects of time on all human beings, a sense of waste and loss tempered with a note of hope and an intimation of immortality.

The play begins in 1919 in the Conway home, in a prosperous suburb of a manufacturing town, where a party is under way to celebrate Kay’s twenty-first birthday. An aspiring novelist, Kay is joined by her widowed mother, five brothers and sisters, friends, and neighbors.With the war ended, all of them look forward to a bright future. Madge is eager to be part of a new Socialist order; Robin, home from the Royal Air Force, expects to make his fortune in car sales; Hazel, the family beauty, awaits her Prince Charming, while Carol, the youngest, is bursting with an overflowing sense of life. Alan, a clerk in the Rate Office and the only member of the family with no great hopes or plans, is the most contented of the lot as he savors what seems to the others to be merely a humdrum existence. Once their game of charades is over and the costumes are put away, everyone goes into the next room to hear Mrs. Conway’s rendering of Robert Schumann’s “Der Nussbaum.” Kay, however, returns to the sitting room. She cannot let go of this moment of blissful happiness, the happiest moment any of the young Conways will ever experience. Sitting on a window seat, her head bathed in moonlight, Kay, with the special sensitivity of the artist, is about to be granted a vision of her family’s future as the curtain falls on the first act.

The action of act 2 seems to be continuous as the rising curtain reveals Kay in the same position. When Alan enters and turns on the lights, however, it is obvious that several years have passed. It is again Kay’s birthday, but the year is 1937, the year in which the play was written, and Kay is now forty. Act 2, as Priestley explained it, is Kay’s precognition or glimpse of the future. In terms of Dunne’s Serialism, her Observer Two sees what will happen to her Observer One.

Mrs. Conway, as impractical as Madame Ranevskaya, has called her children together to discuss her financial difficulties but has attempted to turn the homecoming into a party. Her children, however, are not in a party mood this time. Kay, no celebrated novelist, merely a hack journalist, is involved in an unhappy affair with a married man. Madge is an embittered schoolmistress, and Robin is unable to hold on to a job. He has frittered away much of the family funds and has deserted his wife and children. Hazel, too, has changed. Married to a wealthy mill owner who resents the family for snubbing him years before when he had first come to town, she is terrified of her husband. Conspicuously absent from the family group is Carol. On the threshold of life in the first act, she has been dead for sixteen years in the second.

The air is full of insult, accusation, and recrimination. Once the others have gone their separate ways, a miserable Kay tells her brother Alan that life seems pointless to her now as she remembers the happiness of their younger days. At forty, she is constantly aware of every tick of the clock, of that great devil in the universe called time. Alan, still the one stable element in the family, manages to soothe her. She is again alone at the window as the act ends.

Act 3 continues the action of act 1. Mrs. Conway can be heard singing as Kay is again discovered at the window. It is again 1919 and her twenty-first birthday. The events of act 2 have not yet taken place; life has not yet exacted its toll. Kay, however, has an awareness the others do not share. For her and for the audience, act 3 has a terrible poignancy as the carefree Conways unwittingly plant the seeds of their future unhappiness and destroy one another in ignorance and innocence. The doomed Carol tells the rest how full her life will be. She will act, paint, travel, but the point of it all, she explains with Priestley’s acquiescence, is to live. Moved, Kay begins to cry and asks Alan for comforting words. As the play ends, Alan replies that one day he will have something to tell her that may comfort her.

What Kay needs to hear, what Alan will tell her in eighteen years, he has already told her at the end of Kay’s precognitive vision that is act 2—that all human beings are at any moment only a cross-section of their real selves. At the end of their lives, they are all of themselves in all of their times and may find themselves in yet another time that is another kind of dream. If the ideas are Dunne’s, Priestley transcends theory in a profoundly moving play that affords insight into a person’s plight in a bewildering age and offers an audience something to cling to in the midst of the pain of life. Pseudoscientific explanations are beside the point.

The play is no bag of tricks, as some critics have complained, with a third act where the second ought to be. Performed chronologically, the three acts would not have the meaningful impact that Priestley’s dramatic irony unleashes. In Time and the Conways, Priestley revealed himself as innovator, liberating the stage from the limiting convention of realism, paving the way for such later works as Harold Pinter’s 1971 production of Old Times and his 1975 production of No Man’s Land, in which past and present coexist on the stage.


Johnson over Jordan

The enthusiastic acceptance and understanding of Time and the Conways convinced Priestley that audiences were ready for more daring experimentation, that he could challenge himself and them with the form and content of untried materials. In Johnson over Jordan, which he called “a biographical morality play,” Priestley made maximal use of all the resources the theater offered in a drama stressing the timelessness that was one of his favorite themes. The play calls for intricate musical effects requiring a full orchestra, even ballet sequences, as characters are taken outside time and presented four-dimensionally.

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Priestley was especially struck by an account of the Bardo, a dreamlike state after death, filled with hallucinatory visions. Johnson over Jordan is an attempt to simplify the complex Bardo into aWesternized version in which Robert Johnson, an English Everyman, moves back and forth in time examining the quality of the life he has just departed.

The manager of a small business firm, Johnson cannot let go of his material concerns even after death. He wanders through a distorted landscape of documents, ledgers, and tax forms, a nightmare world with which he cannot cope. Like the officer in August Strindberg’s A Dream Play, he becomes a schoolboy again, confused by life’s contradictions, reminded of his petty deeds and thoughtless actions. Eventually he takes refuge, like Ibsen’s Peer Gynt in the land of the trolls, in the Jungle Hot Spot. Here, he confronts his animal self as he mingles with men and women in grotesque, piglike masks. A mysterious figure, who, like Peer’s Button Moulder, reappears throughout his spiritual journey, directs him on to the Inn at the End of theWorld. All who have illuminated Johnson’s mind and touched his heart, members of his immediate family and characters from beloved books, reappear to him through a window at the inn. He recognizes his wife, like Peer’s Solveig, as EternalWoman. His love for her, stronger than material desires, is a lasting one that makes him finally aware of life’s wonders and its prosaic joys. At last Johnson, acknowledging himself a less than perfect being, is granted entry into an unknown universe.

Despite a now legendary performance by Sir Ralph Richardson, effective music by Benjamin Britten, and inventive choreography by Antony Tudor, Johnson over Jordan failed to find its audience. To some extent Priestley attributed that failure to the critics who dwelled on the work’s expressionistic style, frightening away its potential audience. Priestley’s own view of the expressionistic theater is that it is peopled entirely by symbolic figures and flattened characters. In the case of Johnson over Jordan, he believed, the realistic portrayal of the protagonist, despite the distorted trappings of his environment, made a mockery of the dreaded label. His own explanation of what he was attempting, however—to make use of objective form to present material that was deeply subjective—suggests that the work in fact derives from the expressionist tradition. Like those of expressionist drama, the characters, apart from Johnson himself, are types. All, Johnson among them, speak a heightened language, and the play, in its exploration of a dreamworld devoid of time and space, deals abstractly with a basic expressionist theme—the worth of human beings. The play’s very theatricality is the measure of its achievement.Without becoming a commercial success, Johnson over Jordan was a landmark occasion in a London theater long resistant to dynamic change. It encouraged others to press on with efforts to expand the limits of a too confining stage.

An Inspector Calls

Priestley’s work for the theater during World War II expressed his lifelong theme of commitment to community. Plays such as Desert Highway and How Are They at Home? appear to have been written more from a sense of duty than from a spark of creativity, but one play of the war years stands apart from the rest. Written during the last winter of the war, An Inspector Calls was first performed by two Soviet theater companies in Moscow at a time when no London theater was available for its production.

When the play was produced at home in 1946, in a weighty production full of realistic detail, it was dismissed with indifference. Priestley believed that acclaim with which Russian audiences had greeted it resulted from a more sympathetic symbolic production. There were no walls to the set, only an illuminated acting area. The symbolic setting made the audience aware that the play concerned more than its immediate and continuous action, was in fact concerned with the history of a generation that had just come through a worldwide conflagration. Sharing with Dangerous Corner the form of a conventional melodrama, An Inspector Calls is a committed social drama that focuses on one man’s family while insisting inevitably on the Family of Man.

On an evening in 1912 in an industrial city in the North Midlands, the Birlings are celebrating their daughter Sheila’s engagement to Gerald Croft. The coming wedding will signal the merger of Birling and Company and Crofts Limited. Dashing the festive mood of the occasion is the visit of an Inspector Goole, new to the district, to announce the death that evening of a young woman, Eva Smith, who swallowed a disinfectant and died in agony in the infirmary. One by one the Birlings are shown a photograph of the girl, and each recognizes her. By the time Goole departs, everyone is implicated in the girl’s death. Birling had fired her for her part in a strike at his factory, and Sheila had had her discharged from a dress shop for impertinence. Croft, who knew her as Daisy Renton, had made her his mistress for a time, but she had later become pregnant by Birling’s son Eric. When she had asked for assistance from a charity organization, she had been denied by the interviewing committee, chaired by Mrs. Birling. Frustrated at every turn, she had committed suicide.

The Birling children are shaken by Goole’s statement that the world is full of Eva Smiths, and that everyone is responsible for his or her own destiny. The elder Birlings and Croft, on the other hand, are more concerned with their reputations and with covering up the scandal than they are convinced of their guilt and responsibility. It even occurs to them that they may have been shown different photos, that Eva Smith and Daisy Renton may not have been the same girl. Checking with the police a few minutes later, they are overjoyed to learn that there is no Inspector Goole on the force and that no girl has died in the infirmary. Believing that they have been the victims of an elaborate hoax, they prepare to carry on as before, much to the dismay of Sheila and Eric. Suddenly the phone rings, and Birling reports his telephone conversation to the others. The police have just informed him that a girl has died on the way to the infirmary after swallowing disinfectant. An inspector is on his way to ask some questions. The curtain abruptly falls on five stunned characters.

In one of Priestley’s tautest and best-crafted works, what seems to be a realistic drama suddenly moves outside time. No particular time theory is under illustration here. Instead, time reinforces the notion that human beings must take responsibility for their actions and their consequences. In the present, individuals prepare their future. Even Inspector Goole is taken outside time. Is he police officer or imposter? Perhaps he is the very embodiment of the Birlings’ collective guilt, which has been called forth by their need to account for their actions.

Like Eden End, An Inspector Calls is set in 1912, enabling the dramatist to make astonishing use of dramatic irony. The Birlings’ world, like the Kirbys’, is about to disintegrate. The Kirbys were victims of their own innocence, but the Birlings, no innocents, have caused the demise of their comfortable world through a lack of compassion, a disregard for those members of their community less fortunate than themselves. Priestley added a further dimension to the play, which he wrote asWorldWar II was ending, by setting it on the eve ofWorldWar I. When will humankind benefit, he was asking, from the lessons of the past?

Later Plays

Priestley’s wartime despair eventually gave way to a cautious optimism, despite the uncertainties of the future, in such later plays as Summer Day’s Dream and The Linden Tree. After collaborating with Iris Murdoch on a successful adaptation of her novel A Severed Head in 1963, he abandoned the theater.


Priestley and Harold Wilson

Principal drama
The Good Companions, pr. 1931, pb. 1935 (adaptation of his novel, with Edward Knoblock); Dangerous Corner, pr., pb. 1932; The Roundabout, pr. 1932, pb. 1933; Laburnum Grove, pr. 1933, pb. 1934; Eden End, pr., pb. 1934; Cornelius, pr., pb. 1935; Duet in Floodlight, pr., pb. 1935; Bees on the Boat Deck, pr., pb. 1936; Spring Tide, pr., pb. 1936 (with George Billam); People at Sea, pr., pb. 1937; Time and the Conways, pr., pb. 1937; I Have Been Here Before, pr., pb. 1937; Music at Night, pr. 1938, pb. 1947; Mystery at Greenfingers, pr., pb. 1938; When We Are Married, pr., pb. 1938; Johnson over Jordan, pr., pb. 1939; The Long Mirror, pr., pb. 1940; Goodnight, Children, pr., pb. 1942; They Came to a City, pr. 1943, pb. 1944; Desert Highway, pr., pb. 1944; The Golden Fleece, pr. 1944, pb. 1948; How Are They at Home?, pr., pb. 1944; An Inspector Calls, pr. 1946, pb. 1947; Ever Since Paradise, pr. 1946, pb. 1950; The Linden Tree, pr. 1947, pb. 1948; The Rose and Crown, pb. 1947 (one act); The High Toby, pb. 1948 (for puppet theater); Home Is Tomorrow, pr. 1948, pb. 1949; The Plays of J. B. Priestley, pb. 1948-1950 (3 volumes); Summer Day’s Dream, pr. 1949, pb. 1950; Bright Shadow, pr., pb. 1950; Seven Plays of J. B. Priestley, pb. 1950; Dragon’s Mouth, pr., pb. 1952 (with Jacquetta Hawkes); Treasure on Pelican, pr. 1952, pb. 1953; Mother’s Day, pb. 1953 (one act); Private Rooms, pb. 1953 (one act); Try It Again, pb. 1953 (one act); A Glass of Bitter, pb. 1954 (one act); The White Countess, pr. 1954 (with Hawkes); The Scandalous Affair of Mr. Kettle and Mrs. Moon, pr., pb. 1955; These Our Actors, pr. 1956; The Glass Cage, pr. 1957, pb. 1958; The Pavilion of Masks, pr. 1963; A Severed Head, pr. 1963, pb. 1964 (with Iris Murdoch; adaptation of Murdoch’s novel); An Inspector Calls and Other Plays, pb. 2001.

Other major works
Long fiction: Adam in Moonshine, 1927; Benighted, 1927; Farthing Hall, 1929 (with Hugh Walpole); The Good Companions, 1929; Angel Pavement, 1930; Faraway, 1932; I’ll Tell You Everything, 1933 (with George Bullett);Wonder Hero, 1933; TheyWalk in the City: The Lovers in the Stone Forest, 1936; The Doomsday Men: An Adventure, 1938; Let the People Sing, 1939; Blackout in Gretley: A Story of—and for—Wartime, 1942; Daylight on Saturday: A Novel About an Aircraft Factory, 1943; Three Men in New Suits, 1945; Bright Day, 1946; Jenny Villiers: A Story of the Theatre, 1947; Festival at Farbridge, 1951 (published in the United States as Festival); Low Notes on a High Level: A Frolic, 1954; The Magicians, 1954; Saturn over the Water: An Account of His Adventures in London, South America, and Australia by Tim Bedford, Painter, Edited with Some Preliminary and Concluding Remarks by Henry Sulgrave and Here Presented to the Reading Public, 1961; The Thirty-first of June: A Tale of True Love, Enterprise, and Progress in the Arthurian and Ad-Atomic Ages, 1961; The Shape of Sleep: A Topical Tale, 1962; Sir Michael and Sir George: A Tale of COMSA and DISCUS and the New Elizabethans, 1964 (also known as Sir Michael and Sir George: A Comedy of New Elizabethans); Lost Empires: Being Richard Herncastle’s Account of His Life on the Variety Stage from November, 1913, to August, 1914, Together with a Prologue and Epilogue, 1965; Salt Is Leaving, 1966; It’s an Old Country, 1967; The Image Men: “Out of Town” and “London End,” 1968; The Carfitt Crisis, 1975; Found, Lost, Found: Or, The English Way of Life, 1976; My Three Favorite Novels, 1978.
Short fiction: The Town Major of Miraucourt, 1930; Going Up: Stories and Sketches, 1950; The Other Place and Other Stories of the Same Sort, 1953; The Carfitt Crisis and Two Other Stories, 1975.
Poetry: The Chapman of Rhymes, 1918.
Screenplay: Last Holiday, 1950.
Nonfiction: Brief Diversions: Being Tales, Travesties, and Epigrams, 1922; Papers from Lilliput, 1922; I for One, 1923; Figures in Modern Literature, 1924; Fools and Philosophers: A Gallery of Comic Figures from English Literature, 1925 (published in the United States as The English Comic Characters); George Meredith, 1926; Talking: An Essay, 1926; The English Novel, 1927, 1935, 1974; Open House: A Book of Essays, 1927; Thomas Love Peacock, 1927; Too Many People and Other Reflections, 1928; Apes and Angels: A Book of Essays, 1928; The Balconinny and Other Essays, 1929 (published in the United States as The Balconinny, 1931); English Humour, 1929, 1976; The Lost Generation: An Armistice Day Article, 1932; Self-Selected Essays, 1932; Albert Goes Through, 1933; English Journey: Being a Rambling but Truthful Account of What One Man Saw and Heard and Felt and Thought During a Journey Through England During the Autumn of the Year 1933, 1934; Four-in-Hand, 1934; Midnight on the Desert: A Chapter of Autobiography, 1937 (published in the United States as Midnight on the Desert: Being an Excursion into Autobiography During aWinter in America, 1935- 1936, 1937); Rain upon Godshill: A Further Chapter of Autobiography, 1939; Britain Speaks, 1940; Postscripts, 1940 (radio talks); Out of the People, 1941; Britain at War, 1942; British Women Go to War, 1943; The Man-Power Story, 1943; Here Are Your Answers, 1944; The New Citizen, 1944; Letter to a Returning Serviceman, 1945; Russian Journey, 1946; The Secret Dream: An Essay on Britain, America, and Russia, 1946; The Arts Under Socialism: Being a Lecture Given to the Fabian Society, with a Postscript on What Government Should Do for the Arts Here and Now, 1947; Theatre Outlook, 1947; Delight, 1949; Journey Down a Rainbow, 1955 (with Jacquetta Hawkes); All About Ourselves and Other Essays, 1956; TheWriter in a Changing Society, 1956; The Art of the Dramatist: A Lecture Together with Appendices and Discursive Notes, 1957; The Bodley Head Leacock, 1957; Thoughts in the Wilderness, 1957; Topside: Or, The Future of England, a Dialogue, 1958; The Story of Theatre, 1959; Literature and Western Man, 1960; William Hazlitt, 1960; Charles Dickens: A Pictorial Biography, 1962; Margin Released: A Writer’s Reminiscences and Reflections, 1962; The English Comic Characters, 1963; Man and Time, 1964; The Moments and Other Pieces, 1966; All England Listened: J. B. Priestley’sWartime Broadcasts, 1968; Essays of Five Decades, 1968 (Susan Cooper, editor); Trumpets over the Sea: Being a Rambling and Egotistical Account of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Engagement at Daytona Beach, Florida, in July-August, 1967, 1968; The Prince of Pleasure and His Regency, 1811-1820, 1969; Anton Chekhov, 1970; The Edwardians, 1970; Over the Long High Wall: Some Reflections and Speculations on Life, Death, and Time, 1972; Victoria’s Heyday, 1972; The English, 1973; Outcries and Asides, 1974; A Visit to New Zealand, Particular Pleasures: Being a Personal Record of Some Varied Arts and Many Different Artists, 1974; The Happy Dream: An Essay, 1976; Instead of the Trees, 1977 (autobiography).
Children’s literature: Snoggle, 1972.
Edited texts: Essayist Past and Present: A Selection of English Essays, 1925; Tom Moore’s Diary: A Selection, 1925; The Book of Bodley Head Verse, 1926; The Female Spectator: Selections from Mrs. Eliza Heywood’s Periodical, 1744-1746, 1929; Our Nation’s Heritage, 1939; Scenes of London Life, from “Sketches by Boz” by Charles Dickens, 1947; The Best of Leacock, 1957; Four English Novels, 1960; Four English Biographies, 1961; Adventures in English Literature, 1963; An Everyman Anthology, 1966.

Atkins, John. J. B. Priestley: The Last of the Sages. New York: Riverrun Press, 1981.
Brome, Vincent. J. B. Priestley. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1988.
Cook, Judith. Priestley. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.
DeVitis, A. A., and Albert E. Kalson. J. B. Priestley. Boston: Twayne, 1980.
Gray, Dulcie. J. B. Priestley. Stroud, England: Sutton, 2000.
Klein, Holger. J. B. Priestley’s Plays. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988.

Categories: Drama Criticism, Literature

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