Priestley's England is the first full-length academic study of J B Priestley - novelist, playwright, screen-writer, journalist and broadcaster, political activist, public intellectual and popular entertainer, one of the makers of twentieth-century Britain, and one of its sharpest critics.
The book explores the cultural, literary and political history of twentieth-century Britain through the themes which preoccupied Priestley throughout his life: competing versions of Englishness; tradition, modernity, and the decline of industrial England; 'Americanisation', mass culture and 'Admass'; cultural values and 'broadbrow' culture; consumerism and the decay of the public sphere; the loss of spirituality and community in 'the nervous excitement, the frenzy, the underlying despair of our century'. It argues that Priestley has been unjustly neglected for too long: we have a great deal to learn both from this extraordinary, multi-faceted man, and from the English radical tradition he represented.
This book will appeal to all those interested in the culture and politics of twentieth-century Britain, in the continuing debates over 'Englishness' to which Priestley made such a key contribution, and in the life and work of one of the most remarkable and popular writers of the past century.
1. 'A serious writer with a message'
2. Bruddersford and beyond
3. Englands and Englishness
4. This new England
5. Priestley's war
6. 'Now we must live up to ourselves': New Jerusalem and beyond