YEAR 11 ENGLISH
An Inspector Calls Context Booklet
John Boynton Priestley was born in Yorkshire in 1894. He knew he wanted to be a writer from an early age but he decided against going to university. Instead, at the age of 16 he became a junior clerk at a local wool firm.
When the First World War broke out, Priestly joined the infantry and came very close to being killed on many occasions. After the war he gained a degree from Cambridge University and then moved to London to work as a freelance writer. He began to write very successful articles and then published the first of his novels, for example Good Companions in 1929. He then wrote his first play in 1932 and later went on to write 50 more. A lot of his writing was very ground-breaking and controversial. He included things about parallel universes and strong political messages.
During the Second World War, he broadcasted a popular radio show that was attacked by Conservatives and was eventually cancelled by the BBC for being very critical of the government.
He continued writing up until the 1970’s, and died in 1984.
Section 1 – J.B Priestley
In the 1930’s Priestley became very concerned about the consequences social inequality in Britain and in 1942 Priestley and others set up a new political party called the common wealth party. This party argued for public ownership of land, greater democracy, and a new ‘morality’ in politics. The party joined with the labour party in 1945, but Priestley was influential in developing the idea of the Welfare State which began to take place at the end of the War.
He believed that future world wars could be avoided by countries cooperating with each other and mutual respect between countries, and so became active in the early movement for a United Nations. He also helped found the CND hoping that Britain would act as an example to other countries by a moral act of nuclear disarmament.
There were strong distinctions between the upper and lower classes. In Britain at this time, war was looming, and racial prejudices were still high. The aristocracy were the wealthiest and racial segregation put different races at the bottom of the hierarchy.
Gentry/Aristocracy was the wealthiest and most powerful people at this time. They had vast influences because of the wealth and power they possessed
Middle/Working class were the next rung…