The Patrick Hamilton Appreciation Society discussion


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message 1: by Nigeyb (last edited Feb 04, 2014 02:38AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod

Is J.B. Priestley Hamilton-esque authors? I don't know. What's your view?

One of my online chums makes the connection between J.B. Priestley and Patrick Hamilton stating...

"J.B. Priestley's The Good Companions evokes a lot of Patrick Hamilton for me."

J.B. Priestley also wrote the introduction to Patrick Hamilton's Hangover Square as you probably already know.

I've yet to read my first book by J.B. Priestley however I feel that the time is soon coming.

Although not particularly fashionable now, in his interwar heyday he was a best-selling author and extremely popular with the reading public.

So who was he? Here's a biography from a J.B. Priestley website.

I will probably start with The Good Companions. From what I can discern by reading about The Good Companions, it shares quite a bit in common with the wonderful London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins. Both being long, sprawling and very enjoyable, books that cover a few years in the lives of an eclectic group of ordinary people.

I find I am increasingly drawn to novels about ordinary people. The rich and famous are all well and good but I am discovering more insights and interests in the lives most of us can more readily relate to. It probably explains my enduring fascination with Patrick Hamilton and a host of other associated authors. On a related theme, I am thoroughly enjoying The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks - but that's another story for another day.

Back to The Good Companions: it was written in 1929 (in Deal, Kent), and focuses on the trials and tribulations of a concert party in England between World War 1 and World War 2. It is arguably J.B. Priestley's most famous novel, and the work which established him as a national figure. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was adapted twice into film. The amount of five star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads augers very well too.

So let's talk J.B. Priestley...

What do you think of him?

What have you read?

What books would you recommend?

Is The Good Companions as good as it looks?

As cheerfully escapist for today's readers as it was for readers when it first came out in 1929. The Times (on The Good Companions)

Priestley was a grand writer...we should still listen to him, before time runs out...I am extremely pleased an effort is being made to re-kindle interest in this great writer. Beryl Bainbridge

message 2: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've just come across this little beauty...

Great Lives programme (BBC 4 Radio) on JB Priestley on the BBC iplayer

Listening now - very enjoyable and informative. Here's the skinny....

Barry Cryer nods to his Yorkshire roots in choosing J.B. Priestley, the Bradford born author of The Good Companions and An Inspector Calls. Barry knew JB for the last ten years of his life, and fondly recalls visiting a man he loved with two members of Monty Python. Other memories include a trip to the Cafe Royal, and thoughts on Priestley's notorious love of women.

Martin Wainwright, northern editor of the Guardian, presenter of last year's radio documentary about the Postscripts, also brings to life a prolific writer nearly killed in World War One. Some say he wrote so much to avoid the memories of that war.

Recorded in front of an audience at the Arnolfini in Bristol, the programme includes colourful clips of J.B. Priestley and also Priestley's son, Tom. The only discordant note is raised by presenter Matthew Parris: "It's awfully watchable, awfully readable ... but where's the magic ? Is Priestley really very good?"

message 3: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ That Great Lives episode is great and really revealing. Here's a few J.B. Priestley nuggets...

- He was the best selling UK author of the 1930s (Daphne du Maurier was second highest, and both were critically reviled)

- He was very changed by WW1 having been shelled and gassed on the Western Front. He came back determined to avoid a life of grey conformity and transformed himself into a best selling author

- He was an important founder member of CND

- His radio broadcasts were enormously popular and people would recognise his voice whenever he went into a bar

- He turned down a seat in the House Of Lords because of Labour's policy in Vietnam

- He was a lifelong socialist (although also very money orientated too)

- He loved to have a good grumble

- Time (and nostalgia) are a constant theme in his work

- He delighted in life

All in all a very enjoyable listen and one I recommend.

message 4: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I have just finished reading...

English Journey by J.B. Priestley

It was Victor Gollancz who commissioned two pieces of English travel writing from two gifted but very different writers. One was "The Road to Wigan Pier" by George Orwell, the other was "English Journey".

"English Journey" is subtitled...

"English journey being a rambling but truthful account of what one man saw and heard and felt and thought during a journey through England during the autumn of the year 1933 by J.B. Priestley."

...which sums it up very succinctly.

In 1934, J.B. Priestley published this account of a journey through England from Southampton to the Black Country, to the North East and Newcastle, to Norwich and then back to his home in Highgate, London. His account is very personal and idiosyncratic, and in it he muses on how towns and regions have changed, their history, amusing pen pictures of those he encounters, and all of this is enhanced by a large side order of realism and hard-nosed opinion. The book was a best seller when it was published and apparently had an influence on public attitudes to poverty and welfare, and the eventual formation of the welfare state.

The book also makes a fascinating companion piece to "In Search Of England" by H.V. Morton, which was published a few years earlier, and was another enormously successful English travelogue, however one that provides a far more romantic version of England, an England untroubled by poverty and the depression. Like H.V. Morton's book, "English Journey" has never been out of print.

"English Journey" is a fascinating account, and the edition I read, published by Great Northern Books, is also illustrated with over 80 modern and archive photos. It's a really beautiful book and one I heartily recommend.

The introduction by the always readable and interesting Stuart Maconie made me chuckle too...

"If, as a writer, J.B. Priestley had just been brilliant, humane, elegant, virile, intelligent, witty and technically dazzling, he'd be arguably considered the pre-eminent British literary talent of his age. Sadly from him though, he also laboured beneath the crushing burden of being accessible, engaging, crystal clear and enormously popular. The mandarins of the metropolitan elite like their 'provincial' voices to stay just that if possible, or at least to have the decency to be faintly troubled and attractively doomed, like say D.H. Lawrence or John Lennon, rather than rich, successful, boundlessly gifted and ordered like J.B. Priestley or Paul McCartney. The riches and success must have been some consolation."

I shall be reading more of J.B. Priestley's work.

message 5: by Greg (new)

Greg | 159 comments I think it safe to say going by the cover synopsis that these four plays are comfortably in the Hamiltonian style.
I just found a 1978 Penguin edition of 'Time and the Conways' by J.B. Priestley.
Four plays:
Time and the Conways
I Have Been Here Before
The Linden Tree
An Inspector Calls

Back cover synopsis

'Time and the Conways', a brilliantly successful experiment, shows us the same family in 1919 and 1937; the third and final act returns to the happy family party of 1919 to shed a bitter, ironical light on the youthful hopes of the characters.

'I Have Been Here Before', another 'time' play, is based on a theory of Time and Human Life as a recurring cycle. During a weekend in the Yorkshire dales, Dr Görtler, a mysterious refugee, tries to save a rich couple and a young schoolmaster from a tragic course of action.

'The Linden Tree', a Chekhov-like study of family relationships, finds the Lindens divided : Professor Linden at sixty-five could retire but is dedicated to teaching at a run-down provincial university. But his wife and rich son Rex have other ideas. . .

'An Inspector Calls', written inside a week in 1944, has become world-wide one of the most performed of all modern plays. Inspector Goole, investigating a girl's death, calls on the Birlings. Tension builds as he dissects the hidden vices and confusions behind the façade of this outwardly virtuous Edwardian household.

message 6: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Thanks Greg. An Inspector Calls is very fine indeed.

message 7: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I'm currently enjoying....

Angel Pavement (1930) by J.B. Priestley

I'm loving it so far

At around 100 pages I'm beginning to think this might be another of those great London novels.

First published in 1930, it is a social panorama of the city of London seen largely through the eyes of the employees of the firm Twigg & Dersingham, on the first floor of No. 8, Angel Pavement (a small cul-de-sac in the heart of London's commercial district).

The book is providing a vivid picture of ordinary London life before the war and the blitz changed everything and is set against the background of the great depression.

It reminds me of the wonderful London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins

Angel Pavement was published after the enormous success of The Good Companions.

One GR five star review observes...

Pity the generation that lived through the Great Depression. I thought this was one of the most moving books I have read for a long time. It is not dramatic, the action such as it is is very low key, the characters are mundane and the subject it deals with (office work) is hardly going to be thrilling, but Priestley had a knack of really getting under the skin of his characters so you cared about the outcome. I ended up wondering what happened to Turgis, Mr Smeeth, Miss Matfield et al after the book finished.

message 8: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments I reckon it’s one of the best... certainly one of my own favourite London novels and, for me, an incredibly easy book to escape into. I’d say you got it right when stacking it up against London Belongs To Me, which was one of my thoughts while reading it.

And, of course, Priestley’s sketching and development of characters in Angel Pavement is perfectly on par with Patrick Hamilton’s ability to do the same.

Really glad to hear you’re digging it. We can still be friends!

message 9: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Yes indeed

We park our mobility scooters in the same parking bay down at the bingo

message 10: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "I'm currently enjoying....

Angel Pavement (1930) by J.B. Priestley"

Finished - a magnficent novel.

The highest compliment I can pay to a book like Angel Pavement (1930) by J.B. Priestley is that I was sad when I'd finished and now wonder what happened to the characters after the events of the story.

Here’s my review


message 11: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Angel Pavement reminds me of London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins, and To Serve Them All My Days by R.F. Delderfield.

Two other books that were similarly immersive and with an array of interesting characters, and to whom I was sad to bid farewell.

What other books do you think are similar in feel and scope?

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