J.B. Priestley’s second Postscript radio broadcast began “I don’t think there has ever been a lovelier English spring than this one, now melting into full summer”. In one of the most beautiful of his many descriptions of his beloved English countryside, Priestley evoked the loveliness of the flowers, the birdsong, and how unreal it all felt against the news of war. Yet these things were as real, and would endure long after the madness of war was over. He ended the piece by comparing, as he had done in the first Postscript, the Nazi approach with the English. He had recently seen Nazi propaganda film, Baptism of Fire, and thought it to be all bullying and force, in contrast to the lighthearted humanity of the recent British effort, The Lion has Wings. Priestley emphasised that the Nazi approach did not allow for the greatness ordinary people could achieve, and that this would be their downfall.
Cover of The English Spirit
This image shows the jacket of The English Spirit, published in 1942 by Allen and Unwin. It is an anthology of radio talks broadcast by the BBC’s Empire Service, including one by Priestley, This Land of Ours, which clearly dates from May or June 1940. As in the Postscript, Priestley began with the beauty of the spring. The description is as beautiful and evocative as the one in the Postscript, though Priestley chose different flowers and views to make his point. He then continued to explore a theme that runs through so many of his works: the English character.
J.B. Priestley’s re-published classic English Journey continues to inspire. Now psycho-geographer Iain Sinclair, explorer of London’s mysteries, has joined visual artists and musicians to reimagine this work in the “Faster than Sound” project. The first showing will be at Aldeburgh Music on Saturday 30 January 2010. In this article in the Daily Telegraph of 26 January, Iain Sinclair reflects on the project and his views of English Journey, which he compares to a Patrick Hamilton novel in places: “The pervasive boredom that hangs over it, a miasma of wet coats and pipe smoke …”
As already mentioned in several blog posts this year, the 75th anniversary edition of J.B. Priestley’s “English Journey” (Great Northern Books) is attracting plenty of interest around the country.
Nottingham Evening Post Tuesday 4 August Stewed tea, football, and Goose Fair.
The Press (York) Saturday 25 July
Bradford Telegraph and Argus Saturday 15 August and Friday 24 July
Leicester Mercury Tuesday 25 August Priestley’s views on hunting, what he considered to be Leicester’s lack of atmosphere, and slipper problems.
Yorkshire Post 12 September. Revisiting Priestley’s Bradford.
There have also been reviews in the Eastern Daily Press (Norwich), Lincolnshire Echo, Evening Post (Bristol), and Lancashire Evening Post, and 5 London magazines: Angel, Resident, Grove, Clapham, and Northside.
Posted in Literature, Priestley, J.B., Yorkshire
Tagged Bradford, England, English Journey, Englishness, Leicester, Literature, Newspapers, Nottingham, Priestley, Travel, York
It is 75 years since J.B. Priestley’s “English Journey”, in which Priestley surveyed his country and wrote about the three Englands of rural tradition, postindustrial depression, and the mass media future. It is one of his very best and most enduring books, and this July is being republished by Great Northern. The new edition includes illustrations from the J.B. Priestley Archive and an article by Alison Cullingford highlighting the media campaign to promote the original publication in 1934.
Press coverage of the new edition:
In his article in the Observer 5 July Sarfraz Manzoor visits Bradford to reflect on changing ideas about Englishness since Priestley’s Journey. He visited Special Collections as part of his research, and spoke to ourselves and our colleagues about Priestley.
Review by Anthony Holden in the Daily Telegraph, which summarises the book and its appeal: “what blazes through this book with Priestley’s trademark sincerity is his driving sense of social justice”.
Posted in Bradford, Literature, Priestley, J.B., Yorkshire
Tagged 1930s, Alison Cullingford, Anthony Holden, Bradford, Daily Telegraph, England, English Journey, Englishness, History, Manzoor, Observer, Priestley, Yorkshire