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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 J.B.Priestley interest the audience in the contrast between the ideas and beliefs of Authur Birling and Inspector Goole, in 'An Inspector Calls'?

    Priestley was very interested in exploring time. This is shown in 'An Inspector Calls' as the play was written in 1947 but is set in 1912. Priestley is able to use hindsight to make comments on events with dramatic irony. Birling makes his ironic speeches about the good times ahead, the 'unsinkable Titanic', and 'prosperity that will make war impossible', to characters that are unaware of future events and the lessons they will be forced to learn in 'fire, blood, and anguish'.

    • Word count: 3338
  2. Analyse the dramatic devices Priestley employs in "An Inspector Calls" to create tension and communicate his theme

    This is reflected in the general view one has of an inspector, and true and honest man of authority, doing good for the community. Priestley also uses the Inspector to show how important he feels it is for collective responsibility to be adopted by members of society. It is described by the Inspector that without out the idea of collective responsibility our actions can have terrible consequences. The death of Eva smith is the example used by Priestley to show this.

    • Word count: 3499

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