John Boynton Priestley was born in 1894 in Bradford, Yorkshire, son of a schoolmaster,. He left Belle Vue School at 16 and worked in a wool office, beginning to write in his spare time. He volunteered for the army in 1914 and served throughout the First World War, surviving the grim conditions of the trenches,
He gained a grant to go to Cambridge and launched his professional career with Brief Diversions, a collection of short pieces, which attracted attention in London. After graduating, he moved to London with his first wife, Pat, and set up as a professional writer , reviewing, writing essays and literary biographies and reading for the publisher John Lane. His fourth novel, THE GOOD COMPANIONS, came out in 1929 and was a huge success, followed by ANGEL PAVEMENT, in 1930. He entered the theatre in 1932 with DANGEROUS CORNER, and dominated the London stage during the 1930s with a succession of plays such as EDEN END, I HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE, TIME AND THE CONWAYS, WHEN WE ARE MARRIED and JOHNSON OVER JORDAN, and in the 1940s with THEY CAME TO A CITY, AN INSPECTOR CALLS, THE LINDEN TREE, SUMMER DAY''S DREAM and THE GLASS CAGE in 1958.
During the Second World War, he established a new reputation as a broadcaster. A profilic writer, he continued writing novels. notably BRIGHT DAY and LOST EMPIRES, and an important list of non-fiction, ENGLISH JOURNEY, launched him into a new role as a social commentator.
MIDNIGHT ON THE DESERT and RAIN UPON GODSHILL were chapters of autobiography, MARGIN RELEASED a memoir, LITERATURE AND WESTERN MAN, the sum of a lifetime's reading. and three social histories were THE PRINCE OF PLEASURE, THE EDWARDIANS and VICTORIA'S HEYDAY. Over all, he published more than 100 books - non-fiction, fiction and drama, as well as countles newspaper articles and reviews.
He was married three times and had four daughters and one son. He was a lifelong socialist of the old kind, yet never joined the Labour Party. He was a spokesman for the ordinary people, unashamedly middlebrow, patriotic and honest and, opposed to the class system, he turned down offers of a knighthood and a peerage but gladly accepted the Order of Merit in 1977.
He died in 1984.