Here’s an interesting bit of Priestleiana I hadn’t seen before. Parody Party (Hutchinson, 1936) is a collection of parodies of popular authors by other well-known authors, edited by Leonard Russell, and featuring illustrations by Nicolas “Clerihew” Bentley.
J.B. Priestley is one of the authors parodied, in a piece called “Eden Week-end: after you Mr J. B. Pr**stley” by A. G. MacDonell.
MacDonell was a satirical writer and journalist. His most famous work was England, their England (1933), a Scotsman’s view of the English including a very funny cricket match. MacDonell was himself parodied in the piece immediately following his Priestley one, in which an Inca prince endures English dinner parties and golf.
The Priestley parody is very affectionate and reveals that MacDonell knew J.B.’s works well. It is dominated by The Good Companions and Angel Pavement, with elements from the time plays. The parody tells the story of a weekend at Tunnicliffe Towers, home of the mill-owning Wainwright family, in the “woolly” valley of the Kilner. At the climax, the Staffordshire-born butler, Mr Arnold, turns out to be from Yorkshire, to the delight of everyone else, and fulfils his dreams of acting fame.
MacDonell parodies J.B.’s theatrical interests and reflections on time and the meaning of life …
“Life, after all, is only a tragi-comedy, and who can blame Mr Arnold for longing so desperately to play his part among the puppets of grease-pot and cold-cream, as well as among the puppets of reality that we almost all are”.
His way of looking at commerce …
“The managing director of the firm lived in London, but he knew his job. He might be a hard man, and a ruthless man, but he could tell a badly groined saucepan a score of yards away, and when he did it meant trouble on Humberside.”
And J.B.’s evocations of the richness of Yorkshire dialect, life and customs …
“Young James, the handsome first valet, whose grand-uncle had owned Susan Oglethorpe, the finest brindled bitch-whippet that ever coursed a hare across Sutcliffe Fell. She was by Bolton Abbot out of Fishcake …”.
We don’t yet have a copy of this book in Special Collections. I borrowed this one from a colleague! We will certainly acquire one in the future.