J.B. Priestley’s great novel of the City of London and the working lives of Londoners during the Depression, Angel Pavement, will be broadcast on Radio 4 on Sunday 5 May 2013 at 3 pm. Part 2 will be broadcast on Sunday 12. I expect it will be available to listen online for some time after the broadcasts.
We’ve just put the latest edition of the catalogue of the J.B. Priestley Archive online.
YMCA “On active service” letterhead from one of J.B. Priestley’s letters home.
Lots of new things and improvements in response to readers’ needs, including:
- Enhanced section on Priestley’s unpublished scripts for books, plays, television and film. These include collaborations with Fred Hoyle and Iris Murdoch. Lots of detail on the physical nature of the scripts e.g. amendments by Priestley.
- More letters, notably Priestley’s incredible Great War letters from the trenches.
- Detailed cataloguing of files on Priestley’s art collection, indexing the artists he collected.
- Programmes, press cuttings and other responses to Priestley 2008-2012. Definite revival of interest, encompassing several less well known plays, and from scholarly, political and literary angles.
- Some sections renumbered for ease of use (don’t worry if you’re using the old numbers, we can cross-refer between them).
More on all the above in future blog posts!
Posted in Bradford, Hawkes, Jacquetta, Literature, Peace, Politics, Priestley, J.B., Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales
Tagged Archives, Art, Catalogues, Film, First World War, Letters, Manuscripts, Paintings, Plays, Priestley, Special Collections, Television
Special Collections will be closed for the Easter Break from Friday 29 March-Tuesday 2 April inclusive. We’re thrilled that J.B. Priestley features at the Bradford Eastercon on the Saturday. In honour of which, here is a detail from the wonderful dustjacket of Priestley’s uncorrected proof copy of Of Time and Stars: the worlds of Arthur C. Clarke (for which Priestley wrote the introduction).
Our reproduction doesn’t do justice to the amazingly purple, pink, orange and yellow original, which also (I think) introduces Clarke’s stories very well as does JBP’s typically quirky and personal introduction.
Whether you’re going to Eastercon or not, we wish you a very happy Easter!
Posted in Bradford, Literature, Priestley, J.B., Service News and Updates
Tagged 1970s, Arthur C. Clarke, Books, Easter, Eastercon, J.B. Priestley, Science Fiction, Special Collections
Introducing Priestley SpecFic
J.B. Priestley was fascinated by the possibilities of time, space, dreams and the fantastic or weird. Alongside the famous time plays, he used these ideas in TV scripts, essays, short stories and novels, ranging from Snoggle, a charming tale of a friendly alien, to the terrifying nuclear war scenario of Level 7. This spring, a convention and a publisher celebrate Priestley’s speculative fiction.
Ghost of Honour
Detail from dustjacket of Benighted by J.B. Priestley (Heinemann)
Priestley will be “Ghost of Honour” at this year’s Eastercon: Eightsquared, in Bradford over the Easter weekend, featuring a lecture by Lee Hanson, Chair of the J.B. Priestley Society. As the Eastercon blog says, “[Priestley's] quietly durable work is well worth a fresh look as modern literary writers increasingly adopt SF ideas and themes. Priestley was doing that decades ago, as well as using elements of the fantastic to address political and social debates …”
Back to the Old Dark House
Detail from cover of The Other Place, by J.B. Priestley (Corgi)
Valancourt Books are issuing two classics of the weird by Priestley: Benighted, the tale of travellers benighted at an “old dark house”, which became a horror classic in its film form, and The Other Place, disquieting short stories, including “The Grey Ones” and “Uncle Phil on TV”.
There’s plenty of good stuff in the latest issue of the J.B. Priestley Society Journal (October 2012, volume 13)
Blue plaque for J.B. Priestley at 34 Mannheim Road, Bradford. The family didn’t move from there straight to Saltburn Place as has traditionally been thought …
- JC Eastwood on Priestley’s family homes in Bradford – clearing up a mystery!
- Professor Maggie Gale of Manchester University on Priestley as a “man of the theatre” – the text of her 2012 Society lecture.
- Priestley’s bibliographer Alan Day on JB’s links with novelist Phyllis Bentley and their opinions of each other’s writings. Alan Day also looks at a series of “short uplift articles” Priestley wrote for Lever Brothers in 1940 as part of a promotion for Sunlight Soap. Fascinating parallels to the Postscripts!
- Trevor Johnson writes about Priestley and Thomas Hardy, in particular the former’s use of Hardy’s poem in the Postscript about the Isle of Wight Volunteers of 16 June 1940.
- Philip Scowcroft surveys music in Priestley’s writings.
There is also a reprint of a Priestley rarity, “The Soul of Revue”, originally published in 1925 and hitherto unknown.
The Journal isn’t available online*, but is sent in print form to all members of the Society and is available in libraries, including ours of course.
*yet, watch this space!
Posted in Literature, Priestley, J.B., Yorkshire
Tagged Bradford, Drama, J.B. Priestley Society, Journals, Music, Phyllis Bentley, Priestley, Theatre, Thomas Hardy, World War II
I was prompted to write this by a recent visit from our graduate trainee Katie Mann. Katie was looking for archive images and inspiration for her exhibition in the Library highlighting LGBT Month. Our archives concerned with peace campaigns and nonviolent protest often overlap with gay and lesbian activism, as in these examples which I showed Katie.
This image is from the Peace News Archive, an immense collection of information and photographs on campaigns, countries and themes of interest to those creating the newspaper, including a file of fantastic photographs of lesbian and gay protests from the early 1980s. This one shows marchers on a Lesbian and Gay Pride March 1985 and is very evocative of the styles and politics of the era.
As in its way is this striking little booklet, from the Archive of Jacquetta Hawkes, part of a file of correspondence concerning her work for the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform and the Albany Trust. Throughout her life Jacquetta (like her second husband, J.B. Priestley) campaigned against injustice, using their star power and connections to influence political decisions, in favour of often controversial causes. For instance, the couple played a key role in the creation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
I suspect that our large collections of peace-related pamphlets and ephemera, which we hope to catalogue this year, will yield further stories and pictures of LGBT campaigns … watch this space!
Posted in Hawkes, Jacquetta, Image of the Month, Images, Peace, Politics, Priestley, J.B.
Tagged 1950s, 1980s, Campaigning, Exhibitions, J.B. Priestley, Jacquetta Hawkes, LGBT Month
One of J.B. Priestley’s finest novels is back in print again!
Cover of Angel Pavement, Great Northern Books
J.B. Priestley’s talent for evoking the atmosphere of a city is never better shown than in Angel Pavement, his follow-up to the huge success of The Good Companions. He brings 1930s London to life for us. The novel also shows Priestley’s deep understanding of human nature and organisations and his concern about unfettered capitalism, as he explores the effects of the predatory Mr Golspie on the staff of the struggling veneers company Twigg and Dersingham.
Great Northern Books, who have already reprinted many essential Priestley works, now make this superb novel available in print again. Find out more on the J.B. Priestley Society website.
The revival of J.B. Priestley’s play Cornelius at the Finborough in London has drawn fantastic reviews. This one in particular from Michael Billington in the Guardian is interesting, because it draws attention to a quality of Priestley’s dramatic work which is rarely recognised.
Priestley is often seen as nostalgic and cosy, creating well-crafted but outdated plays about Yorkshire in 1912. Certainly his plays were incredibly well put together and, yes, he was always drawn to the world of his childhood. However, as Billington observes, Priestley was also a “restless experimenter” when it came to drama. He enjoyed the challenge of taking the artform in new directions.
Witness Johnson over Jordan, which traces the journey of a Yorkshire everyman through the Tibetan bardo limbo state, complete with a disturbing Expressionist interlude and a circle of time which restores Johnson’s lost childhood things. The play ends with Johnson walking away from the stage – into what?
Or Dragon’s Mouth, a platform play in which Jung’s ideas take human form and argue about the meaning of life. Or They came to a City: nine different characters find themselves outside the walls of a strange city – a kind of Utopia – which tests and transforms them …
Even his more seemingly conventional plays dissect comfortable hypocrisies (When We Are Married) or explore mysteries of time and meaning (The Linden Tree).
There is a real revival of interest in Priestley’s less well known plays, as directors and actors explore his critiques of society and unfettered capitalism. Special Collections has copies of them all, of course. If you’re interested in seeing these works on stage, a great way to keep in touch with developments is to join the J.B. Priestley Society, whose members are enthusiastic about seeing and sharing information about Priestley’s plays.