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GCSE: J.B. Priestley

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John Boynton Priestley's biography

  1. 1 He was born in Yorkshire in 1894. He left school at sixteen because he believed that the world outside the classroom would help him become a writer. He said that it was the years 1911-14 ‘that set their stamp upon me’.
  2. 2 When World War One broke out in 1914, Priestley joined the infantry and by the time he left the army in 1919, he had seen active front-line service and narrowly escaped being killed. These experiences were to influence his future writing.
  3. 3 When he left the army he went to Cambridge University and although he finished his degree, he did not like academia and went to London to work as a freelance writer.
  4. 4 He soon became a successful writer of essays and novels and in 1932 he wrote his first play Dangerous Corner to prove that he could adapt his style for the stage. He soon established himself as a leading figure in the London theatre.
  5. 5 When World War Two broke out in 1939 Priestley continued to write his plays, while also writing and broadcasting on BBC radio. During this time he was producing his best work and wrote An Inspector Calls (1945) about the effects of an individual’s actions and the consequences of those actions.

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  1. How does Priestly present the change in Sheila? How does this reflect some of Priestly's ideas?

    We see this through her reaction to Gerald when he presents her with the engagement ring "is it the one I wanted." and through the way that she obsesses over the ring taking no interest in what it represents. We also see that Sheila is a girl eager to conform to her parent?s expectations, marrying at a, young age and to the man that Mr Birling hopes will allow his business to prosper.

    • Word count: 707
  2. The first impressions we get of Mr Birling is that hes a very pompous and vain man

    presented very differently by Priestley, this is shown on the first page were it sets the scene, the way that they are both presented is reflected in the way they react to the inspector. Before the inspector arrives Birling is portrayed as a very narrow minded, self-centred and vain man ?and I say there isn?t a chance of war? and ?the titanic absolutely unsinkable? The fact he makes these confident predictions helps the audience realize how idiotic and vain he is to make predictions that the audience knows is false, this is called dramatic irony Priestley uses the technique to help us realize how idiotic the upper class and in this case Birling is.

    • Word count: 626
  3. Give advice to the actor playing Mrs Birling

    Character Bonds: The actor playing Mrs Birling would need to show the distancing between herself and each individual character. The bond between Mr and Mrs Birling will be stronger than Mrs Birling with anyone else as they are from the same generation and Mr Birling does all that he can to stay in Mrs Birling's good books (this could be due to the fact of social standings or just to do with the fact that she is his wife). The bonds between herself and her children will be mainly formal with them only speaking about appearances and social activities.

    • Word count: 910

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