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On this day in history in 1894, was born J B Priestley.
John Boynton Priestley was a novelist, dramatist and broadcaster, noted for his fantasy novels and plays, set in a realistic background.
Priestley was born in Bradford, Yorkshire. He attended Belle View Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge. During the First World War, Priestley served in the Duke of Wellington Regiment and was wounded by mortar fire in 1916. After returning to Cambridge to complete his degree, Priestley took up a job as a journalist and began writing in his spare time.
It was about this time that Priestley became influenced by the theories of J W Dunne, a philosopher who pronounced that people do not all experience the progression of time in the same scale and that there can be an syncopation of time scales within a relationship. This theory affects much of Priestley’s work and adds a bizarre ingredient to a complex plot. In 1929, Priestley published The Good Companions, an episodic novel concerning a group of travelling performers. Priestley’s works include An Inspector Calls, a play whose central character is a victim who does not appear in the text, but whose connection with the other characters disturbs a placid conventional family relationship. Other of Priestley’s significant works include Dangerous Corner, Time and The Conways and I Have Been Here Before, a work whose title speaks for itself.
During the Second World War, Priestley worked for the BBC, making patriotic broadcasts to a wide audience but was dismissed from his position for being too left wing. Priestley co-founded the Common Wealth Party, a socialist organisation, which lasted until the end of the war. In the fifties, Priestley became a founding member of the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament. In 1977, he was awarded the Order of Merit after, it is said, refusing a knighthood and a peerage. Priestley died in 1984 and was buried in his native Yorkshire. [St Michael and All Angels Church, Hubberholme, Near Skipton, Yorkshire, BD23 5JE]
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