This chapter is about J. B. Priestley, one of the best known and most widely read writers in twentieth-century Britain, who was several other things as well. The purpose of the chapter is to ask what this prolific body of work and activity meant, where it came from and how it both shaped and commentated on twentieth-century society, politics and culture, and in the process the chapter aims to gain a better understanding both of Priestley and of the time and the place in which he lived. It helps disentangle the various threads of Priestley's world-view, which at times seem contradictory, often only because they defy conventional expectations. Priestley was no great theorist, but he was an acute and sensitive observer, and a more complex thinker. His ideas were lucidly expressed and firmly rooted.
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