An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley

Essay by bubbles*19 January 2004

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John Boynton Priestley was a socialist. An Inspector Calls is a useful vehicle for expressing Priestley's view of the 'ills' of British capitalist society at the time the play was written, in comparison to his own socialist ideology, and his hopes for the future of socialism and the end of the class system in British society.

Priestley was born in Yorkshire on the 13th of September 1894 and died at the age of eighty-nine in 1984. The son of a school master, Priestley found himself growing up into his father's circle of socialist friends and later on started to join in on their discussions concerning politics. These discussions influenced Priestley greatly.

At sixteen, Priestley decided to leave school instead of working towards a university scholarship. He took a job at a local wool firm, 'Helm and Company'. This brought him into contact with people who thought about and discussed moral and social issues and put him in a position from which he could observe the hard life of working class people and class inequality.

When World War One broke out in 1914, Priestley joined the infantry. He left the army in 1919. On leaving the army, he finally took a place at Cambridge University to study Modern History and Political Science. Although successfully taking his degree, he decided that academic life did not suit him and left for London to become a freelance writer.

He became a successful essayist throughout the 1920s and wrote his first novel, 'The Good Companions' in 1929.

Priestley had become a best selling author and wrote his second novel, 'Angel Pavement' in 1930. In 1932, he wrote his first play: 'Dangerous corner'. Over the next seven years, Priestley established himself as a leading figure in the London theatre with plays such as: 'Lamburnum Grove', 'Eden...