Priestley’s Postscripts

Note to J.B. Priestley from the Censor

Note to J.B. Priestley from the Censor

J. B. Priestley’s World War 2 Postscript broadcasts seem to have meant more to his contemporaries than any of his other work.  Reflecting on experiences that listeners could relate to (news of the Dunkirk rescue, a heroic pie still steaming after a bombing raid, or a beautiful English landscape), he inspired them to continue the war effort, and to work for a better world afterwards.

I am writing an article about people’s views on Priestley as shown in letters written to him. This letter is a lovely example of his impact.  Sent by the official censor, it refers to photographs sent to Priestley, which presumably contained some military or morale-related detail relating to one of his broadcasts.   “In the ordinary way, I would not allow these photographs to pass, but I happened to hear the same talk. God forbid that I should put anything in the way of your good work!”

BBC Radio 4 will broadcast an Archives Hour show about the Postscripts on 22 May.  It will include an interview with Priestley expert John Baxendale, recorded yesterday in the Special Collections Reading Room.  Our visitors enjoyed what they called a “treasure trove” of  WW2 Priestley books and archive items: photographs, copies of popular magazines Picture Post and Answers, correspondence, books by Priestley about the War – Blackout in Gretley, Daylight on Saturday, British Women go to War and many more …

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