Category Archives: Hawkes, Jacquetta

Who put the B. in J.B.?

We’re often asked about J.B. Priestley’s middle initial, so we thought we’d share our knowledge.

B is for BOYNTON!

Priestley, JB Chapman of Rhymes tp cr 2

Young John Priestley, known as Jack to his friends and family, adopted the B and the Boynton in his teens, growing up in Bradford before the First World War.  J. Boynton Priestley, 5 Saltburn Place, Bradford, Yorks was “added hopefully” to his juvenilia: scribbling books of closely-written poems, stories and essays and neat typescripts typed up for him by kind girls.

PRI7_6_10juvenilia3So why did Jack decide to use this extra name?  Partly to distinguish himself from other John Priestleys (not an unusual name in his family or the region.  His grandfather was John, his father,  Jonathan).   The addition also gave him a more suitable, interesting, distinctive name for a writer.

So why did he choose “Boynton”?  We don’t actually know.  There is a village of that name in the East Riding of Yorkshire, near Bridlington.  Could Jack have seen the village on a family holiday to that popular seaside resort?  However he came by the name, B for Boynton served Jack Priestley rather well as a pen-name and he was to be J.B. Priestley for the rest of his literary career …

B1253_between_Bridlington_and_Boynton_-_Geograph_-_301466

The road to Boynton … (the B1253 between Bridlington and Boynton, by James Exon, licence CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sources and credits:

I am indebted to James Ogden for the suggestion that Jack found Boynton on a family holiday in Bridlington (“The name Boynton” p. 27-28, J.B. Priestley Society Newsletter, no. 24, Autumn 2011).

The road image is from the SABRE website, a vast compendium of images of Britain’s roads – the Roader’s Digest.

Priestley wrote about the juvenilia in the Swan Arcadian section of his memoir, Margin Released.  He gently mocked the literary pretensions of his teenage self, including the pompous pen-name, comparing J. Boynton to an “eighty years old retired clergyman” and sarcastically observing that “J. Boynton makes a bold frontal attack on his subject.”  Other than the hint of pretentiousness, he doesn’t actually explain the purpose or origin of the name.

The two reasons listed above come from an interview with Jacquetta Hawkes  cited in Vincent Brome’s biography of Priestley (Hamish Hamilton, 1988).  Jacquetta, J.B.’s third wife, would be likely to know and the reasons make perfect sense to me.

“Boynton” though awaits further explanation!

 

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New! J.B. Priestley Archive Catalogue April 2013

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.

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!

Images of the Month: Lesbian and Gay Activists in the Archives

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.

CwlPN11_81 L&GYouthFestanon 001

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.

HAW13_11 Pamphlet

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!

Back to “A Land”: Jacquetta Hawkes display and book

Jacquetta Hawkes by a waterfall, Carrantuohill, Co. Kerry, ca. 1951, photo by Nicolas Hawkes (HAW18/5/4)

Jacquetta Hawkes by a waterfall, Carrantuohill, Co. Kerry, ca. 1951, photo by Nicolas Hawkes (HAW18/5/4)

One of the most significant, exciting and beautiful archives in Special Collections is that of archaeologist and writer Jacquetta Hawkes.  There is now a revival of interest in her great contribution to raising public awareness of Britain’s deep past during the 1950s.  Her masterpiece, A Land, which unforgettably fuses archaeology, geology, poetry  and personal experience, has been reissued by Harper Collins.   This book is explored and revisited, using manuscripts and photographs from the Archive, by Dr Christine Finn in a new exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park this autumn.  Find out more about Jacquetta, the Archive, the book and the exhibition on our Celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes website.

Back to A Land

Delighted to announce that Jacquetta Hawkes’ masterpiece, A Land, which fuses archaeology and geology into a personal exploration of England’s deep past, will soon be back in print.  It is being reissued in the Collins Nature Library in June.  The new edition is introduced by Robert MacFarlane, who shares his thoughts about the book in this Guardian Review article:

“Ardent and personal, A Land became a bestseller, and one of the defining British non-fiction books of the postwar decade. Sixty years on it reads, fascinatingly, as a missing link in the literature of nature and landscape. It seems both a period piece – as of its year as the Festival of Britain, the Austin A30 and The Goon Show – and Delphically out-of-time in its ecstatic holism.”

Find out more about Jacquetta Hawkes’s amazing life and unique writings on our webpage for her Archive and in this online exhibit on the Celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes blog.

Jung, Juvenilia, Theatre and Time: the latest Society Journal

As ever, the latest edition of the J.B. Priestley Society Journal offers new light on many facets of Priestley.

  • Tom Priestley reflects on family history as shown in the 1901 and 1911 censuses.  What was JB’s grandfather’s occupation?
  • Useful reprint of Norah Fienburgh’s 1932 Bradford Pioneer piece on Priestley’s 1913 Round the Hearth series.
  • Priestley turned again and again to the ideas of Jung: both believed in the power of dreams as a creative force: Lee Hanson’s lecture on the relationship between the two usefully summarises Priestley’s explorations of Jung’s often difficult ideas and covers how J.B. and Jacquetta Hawkes used them in Dragon’s Mouth.
  • Alan Day covers the February 1948 British Theatre conference, chaired by Priestley.  Fascinating controversies on the role of theatre managers and insight into the theatre of the time.
  • Rangarao Kulkarni discusses consciousness and time in five of Priestley’s later fictions: The Magicians, Saturn over the Water, The Thirty-first of June, Lost Empires and It’s an Old Country.

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.

Welcome to Windyridge: and other stories, Autumn News now out.

The Autumn 2011 issue of Special Collections News is now online, full of news and pictures about Special Collections activities:

Flyer for Riley and Riley, the family firm of Willie Riley (RIL 10/2)

Flyer for Riley and Riley, the family firm of Willie Riley (RIL 10/2). Click for more detail!  Anyone know anything about the “Arbee” specialities??

  • Welcome to Windyridge: Willie Riley’s archive catalogued.
  • 100 Objects set the Pace: project wins prize.
  • Jacquetta gets Better: new detailed lists of the most important parts of the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive.
  • Holdens Untangled: project to share the riches of this fantastic 19th century Bradford archive.
  • Farewell John Brooker: our Assistant has moved to pastures new.
  • Reading Room Reshuffled: better spaces for readers and books.