Tag Archives: J.B. Priestley Society

J.B. Priestley’s Lost City

This Sunday, 31 January 2016, a rare chance to see J.B. Priestley’s Lost City, thanks to the National Media Museum and the J.B. Priestley Society.  Lost City is a 1958 BBC documentary.  It shows the Bradford-born author revisiting his boyhood haunts, many of which were soon to be lost in the 1960s remodelling of the city.  If you’ve never seen the legendary Swan Arcade, Priestley’s teenage workplace, this film is a must!

An afternoon with J.B. Priestley also includes other Priestley rarities, plus an interview with Mavis Dean, who accompanied Priestley in the film.

PRI21_11_8Low Res

 

A piece in our 100 Objects exhibition ponders Lost City as an intriguing glimpse of old Bradford and its insights into Priestley’s complex relationship with his home city:

No 55. Whatever happened to Mr Mothergill: J.B. Priestley’s Lost City.

Bright Days and Cream Teas: the Joy of Waiting

The Joy of Waiting, a new album by Manchester musician and writer Sara Lowes, features songs inspired by J.B. Priestley, and in particular his interest in time.  The titles?  “Bright Day“, “The Chapman of Rhymes” and “J.B. Priestley”!

Sara Lowes Joy of Waiting

Sara’s music is difficult to categorise – you will have to hear her for yourself – but this description from Q Magazine will give you an inkling of her style:

“A voice somewhere between Alison Goldfrapp and Joni Mitchell, and songs that veer between folk, Brill Building pop and Dexys Midnight Runners-esque soul”.

J.B. Priestley Society members get a treat at the Society’s AGM on 11 April as Sara is to be our very special guest.   Not to mention a luxury afternoon tea.  Bliss!

Check out Sara’s website to hear her songs and find out more.

Priestley, Documentary, Realism and Democracy: conference 25 October

Priestley, Documentary, Realism and Democracy: open one-day conference sponsored by the J.B. Priestley Society.

9.45-17.00 West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.  25 October 2014.

There is still time to book a place at this fascinating conference, which includes Special Collections staff among the speakers.

PRI8_1_11 27 closeIt is eighty years since the publication of J.B. Priestley’s English Journey . The book influenced a whole generation on its appearance and has since inspired numerous responses and sequels. This conference aims both to do justice to that impact and also to consider wider issues raised by the documentary and social-realistic work of Priestley and his contemporaries in the Thirties and Forties.  Alison Cullingford will introduce delegates to the Heinemann Scrapbook, which shows how the publisher whipped up interest in Priestley’s controversial comments on English cities (image above).  Martin Levy will explore belatedness and Priestley’s social philosophy.  Other speakers will cover aspects of cinema, Orwell, Muir, social fiction and Priestley’s wartime suspense stories.

To find out more and book your place, see the conference mini-website.

Download the Programme.  JBPS 2014 Conference Running Order

Download the Poster.  JBPS_Conference_Poster

Unique chance to see! Johnson over Jordan, 12 October 2014

The J.B. Priestley Society and National Media Museum present Johnson over Jordan. 12 October 2014, Bradford.

In the experimental play Johnson over Jordan (1939), J.B. Priestley explored the meaning of life – and death.  Everyman Robert Johnson leads an ordinary family life, until he dies and is thrown into bewildering, terrifying, and, ultimately, moving afterlife experiences.  This event offers the first opportunity to see the TV adaptation of the play since its original “Thursday Theatre” broadcast on BBC2 in 1965.  The adaptation features a stellar cast, including Ralph Richardson, who created the part onstage, as Johnson.

A must-see for all Priestley fans and anyone with an interest in theatre, television or philosophy.  You can book tickets via the National Media Museum website.

 

 

The Actual and the Real

The Actual and the Real is a conference exploring J.B. Priestley’s English Journey and its connections to the documentary movement and other literary and political threads of the 30s and 40s.  It takes place in Leeds on 25 October 2014.  Find out more on the Conference website, including details of the Call for Papers which ends on 14 June.

They Came To A City: Priestley’s 1944 utopian film on show in Bradford

On Sunday 20 October 2013, the National Media Museum in Bradford and the J.B. Priestley Society will show a rare and fascinating film by J.B. Priestley.  Originally a 1943 play, They Came To A City was filmed in 1944 by the director Basil Dearden.  Experts Bill Lawrence, Michael Nelson and John Baxendale will lead a discussion about Priestley’s role in cinema, a comparatively little known aspect of his work.

They Came to a City (PG) + Talk: JB Priestley and Cinema

They Came To A City is part of the conversation that was going on throughout the Second World War in Britain: what should society be like after the War?   J.B. Priestley was deeply engaged in this debate.  He addressed these questions rather gently in his famed Postscripts and much more directly in his essential Out of the People.   He believed that new better ways of living could come out of the War, that the mistakes made after the First World War did not have to be repeated.

In the play and film, Priestley used the idea of a city whose society encapsulated his happy egalitarianism.   Nine characters, spanning Britain’s social classes (bank manager and his wife, a charlady, a plutocrat and so on), are allowed in for a day.  We don’t see the city itself, just their responses to it, which vary widely.  Each character must decide whether to stay or leave …

Phyllis Bentley, Thomas Hardy, Sunlight Soap … new in the Society Journal

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.

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!

Always More Subtle: J.B. Priestley and Anthony Burgess

Q. Which well-known British author liked J.B. Priestley’s The Image Men so much he read it ten times?  A. Anthony Burgess.

Screenshot of images of Clockwork Orange

Burgess and Priestley have much in common.  Both remain famous on the basis of one iconic work above all: Burgess for the dystopian novella which became a controversial film, A Clockwork Orange (above), Priestley for An Inspector Calls (below).   Both were much more interesting and prolific writers than commonly thought.  Both wrote novels, plays, non-fiction, and masses of journalism.  Burgess also created symphonies and other musical works.  Although as far as I know JBP didn’t actually write music, it was so important to him that I think this counts as another connection.

Screenshot of images of Inspector calls

This shared experience underlies a perceptive and generous piece Burgess wrote for The Observer after Priestley’s death in 1984.  I could happily quote the whole thing as it shows such great understanding and appreciation of Priestley.  Here’s some of the most telling points:

“My generation had been warned off him by the intellectuals, who derided or patronised him … The fact is that Priestley was an intellectual himself, a man of wide erudition … He knew what the avant-garde novel was all about, but he preferred to work in the tradition of Smollett and Fielding … Of course, he was always more subtle than he usually wished to appear.  If he scorned experiment in his novels, he produced in the 1930s a series of plays which brought something wholly original to the theatre … He was perhaps the last of the literary men willing to spill out of the confines of his study and dare to be a public figure revered for what he stood for, and not just for what he wrote”.

The connections between Burgess and Priestley are explored in depth by Dr Andrew Biswell of the Burgess Foundation in the 2013 J.B. Priestley Society Annual Lecture,  English Anxieties, on 16 March.   Taking place at the Foundation, in Manchester, the event is free and all are welcome!    Society members are also invited to the AGM that morning.  Full details on the Society website.

Coming soon: Maggie Gale on Priestley and the Theatre

Several of J.B. Priestley’s plays, notably An Inspector Calls and the other Time Plays, continue to enthrall and educate modern audiences.  But Priestley’s role in the theatre went far beyond writing for the stage.

Professor Maggie Gale will be exploring Priestley’s place in the theory and practice of mid-twentieth century drama in the J.B. Priestley Society Annual Lecture for 2012.  This will take place on Saturday 10 March 2012 at 2pm in the JSB Lecture Theatre, Richmond Building, University of Bradford.  The event is open to the public.  For more information and to book, see the Society’s website.  Society members have their AGM in the same venue that morning.

Learn about Priestley in Lakeland

A new venture for my colleagues in the J.B. Priestley Society.  They are running a day course all about Priestley at Higham Hall on Saturday 5 November 2011 (that’s an easy date to remember!).  The Hall is an educational trust located on the northern edge of the Lake District; it runs fascinating short courses for adults on art history, literature, music, crafts etc.  The Priestley day will include sessions on Priestley’s writings of the 1930s and the Second World War, his  links with local author Hugh Walpole, and his wonderful play The Linden Tree, all presented by experts from the Society.

Society members will be receiving full details by post.  The event is open to all: find out more on the Hall’s events page.