J B Priestley by Vincent Brome - review by Alan Bell

Alan Bell

Unpriestly Behaviour

J B Priestley


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The enduring impression of JB Priestley is the down-to-earth, plain-spoken, pipe-smoking, cocksure Yorkshire entertainer, with a mind concrete and far from fastidious. It is nut an entirely agreeable one. 'Jolly Jack' Priestley, with his opinionated Honest John manner, has clearly presented his biographer with some embarrassment in explaining what lay behind the public image. Was it a pose? Vincent Brome avers that the bluffness 'concealed immense sensitivity within' and that he 'was capable of depths of emotional awareness which led him into one of the most profound love relationships'. This is certainly an unexpected view of Priestley, but not a convincing one.

Priestley's literary career is solidly dealt with, and the significance of novels like The Good Companions and Angel Pavement in 1929-30, after years of humdrum minor work, is well brought out. Brome is particularly good, too, on the way in which dramatic writing suited Priestley's creative energy: rapid composition, patient

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