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An Inspector Calls and Other Plays (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

J. B. Priestley
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Mar 2001 Penguin Modern Classics

Previously published as Time and the Conways and Other Plays, J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls and Other Plays collects four groundbreaking works by a master playwright in Penguin Modern Classics.

An Inspector Calls, written at a time when society was undergoing sweeping transformations, has been produced as a successful film, and enjoyed repeated revivals since it was first produced in 1946. While holding its audience with the gripping tension of a detective thriller, it is also a philosophical play about social conscience and the crumbling of middle class values. Time and the Conways and I Have Been Here Before belong to Priestley's 'time' plays, in which he explores the idea of precognition and pits fate against free will. The Linden Tree also challenges preconceived ideas of history when Professor Linden comes into conflict with his family about how life should be lived after the war.

John Boynton Priestley (1894-1984) was born in Bradford, the son of a schoolmaster. On receiving an ex-officers' grant after the First World War, Priestley went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge. In 1922, after refusing several academic posts, he went to London, where he soon established a reputation as an essayist and critic. With his third and fourth novels, The Good Companions (1929) and Angel Pavement (1930), he found great success and established an international reputation. This was enlarged by the plays he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s, notably Dangerous Corner (1932), Time and the Conways (1937) and An Inspector Calls (1945), which have been translated and produced all over the world.

If you enjoyed An Inspector Calls, you might like Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Priestley was volcanic, fertile ... [and] never dull'

Anthony Burgess, Observer


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (29 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014118535X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141185354
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

J.B. Priestley, the son of a schoolmaster, was born in Bradford in 1894. After leaving Belle Vue High School, he spent some time as a junior clerk in a wool office. (A lively account of his life at this period may be found in his volume of reminiscences, Margin Released.) He joined the army in 1914, and in 1919, on receiving an ox-officers' grant, went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge. In 1922, after refusing several academic posts, and having already published one book and contributed critical articles and essays to various reviews, he went to London. There he soon made a reputation as an essayist and critic. he began writing novels, and with his third and fourth novels, The Good Companions and Angel Pavement, he scored a great success and established an international reputation. This was enlarged by the plays he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s, some of these, notably Dangerous Corner, Time and the Conways and An Inspector Calls, having been translated and produced all over the world. During the Second World War he was exceedingly popular as a broadcaster. Since the war his most important novels have been Bright Day, Festival at Farbridge, Lost Empires and The Image Men, and his more ambitious literary and social criticism can be found in Literature and Western Man, Man and Time and Journey Down a Rainbow, which he wrote with his wife, Jacquetta Hawkes, a distinguished archaeologist and a well-established writer herself. It was in this last book that Priestley coined the term 'Admass', now in common use. Among his latest books are Victoria's Heydey (1972), Over the Long High Wall (1972), The English (1973), Outcries and Asides, a collection of essays (1974), A Visit to New Zealand (1974), The Carfitt Crisis (1975), Particular Pleasures (1975), Found, Lost, Found, or the English Way of Life (1976), The Happy Dream (1976), English Humour (1976) and an autobiography, Instead of the Trees (1977). In 1977 J. B. Priestley received the Order of merit. He died in 1984.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
There is a party at the Conways, this autumn evening of 1919, but we cannot see it, only hear it. Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I first read this play when I was 14. I didn't understand all the socio-economic and political issues until I was 19. It was during this period that I became a confirmed socialist (or rather left leaning in my politics).

When I first read the play - I remember a few classmates being confused that one family encountered the same girl, which went beyond coincidence. This is NOT the case - that's just a twist - if you had believed that then you'll not be able to sympathise with Eva Smith's plight (society prefers strong characters even if they are victims suffering the utmost misfortune).

The play intends to illustrates the inequality between the classes - how dangerous this inequitable situation is if there are no safeguards. Eva is just a random chick - imagine if things were going against you because you "dallied" with a powerful/wealthy family/ corporate/ entity - well if there are no laws protecting you - you are screwed.

Prior to Clement Atlee's government, there was no Welfare State. Poor working class women who became pregnant, were abandoned. Women were also too frightened to report incidents of rape if committed by a member of the "respectable" class.

There was no NHS, hence healthcare was the luxury of the privileged classes (child mortality rates were atrocious prior to the NHS).

The play conveys the vulnerability of women such as Eva. We see how Sheila (a middleclass wealthy girl) uses her wealth to intimidate a shopkeeper into sacking Eva over a whim. This action demonstrates the lack of employment laws and the necessity to enforce these laws.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good service, good play. 4 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent service...well packaged and delivered promptly. The book was as expected ... Crisp and new. The play, as always, clever with a final twist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!!! 6 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback
We had to study this play as part of our English Literature GCSE. I honestly thought it was going to be another boring story, but the second I finished reading the play I realised I had been completely wrong. Priestly is a complete genius to have thought of such a clever plot with a great number of twists. The shocking revelations keep you hooked throughout, and you'd probably read it a great number of times because it's so good. The storyline is simply AMAZING.
Definitely a worth read.
I hope some day in the future I get to watch the play in reality. It's definitely on the 'To Do' list of my life. Can't wait :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Makes a very clear point 3 Sep 2009
By Basma
Format:Paperback
'An Inspector Calls' is a really interesting play that makes a very specific point and makes it very clearly. It definitely gives you something to think about as it shows how all the characters are linked and how peoples' actions affect others. You do get caught up in the play and the end is almost breathtaking. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something intelligent, yet easy to understand.

The other plays in the book don't have the same effect as this play, unfortuneately. Only 'Time and the Conways' has a resembling effect that 'An Inspector Calls' has. Nevertheless... the book is worth getting for that one play.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Inspector Calls - J.B. Priestley 9 May 2011
By Ingrid
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
J.B. Priestley needs no introduction - he was known for his volumes of written work from the 1930's, if not before. An Inspector Calls is just as relevant today as when it was first produced as a play in 1946. Showing how many well-to-do and powerful people thrive on keeping the poor and vulnerable down - even to the point of death.

This particular edition contains four plays: Time and the Conways. I have Been Here Before. An Inspector Calls.
The Linden Tree.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love these plays! 26 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I studied An Inspector Calls for GCSE English a few years back and I had a sudden urge to purchase a copy to re-read by myself. A very nice book, including 3 other plays which I will read now that I've re-read AIC and I am very happy with my purchase.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book 13 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was bought for someone studying it at school. It must of been some use to them as they passed their exams.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Relevant 6 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I only bought this because it's one of those plays you "really should read". I thought it was superb, and surprisingly relevant.

Set in 1912 about a family of 5 who one night learn they all had a part in the demise of a young girl because they have in some way been selfish, negligent, jealous or just plain evil (sadly) reminded me of our current world; where people aren't communicating with one another and with the current economic crisis it feels like it's "every man for himself".

The ending also had a wicked twist.

Perfect for any am-dram theatre company to produce, perfect for anyone who likes a good story to read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Came absolutely in no time, excellent condition, great for my English exams coming up, can not fault it one bit
Published 3 months ago by vanessa mcara
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for GCSE students
My daughter has found this very useful in preparing for her GCSE and I would recommend buying a copy should your child be studying this for their exams.
Published 4 months ago by sarah cook
4.0 out of 5 stars An Inspector Calls
Required this purchase for my granddaughter for her course work, she was please with the item and it help with her work.
Published 4 months ago by Maureen Maginess
5.0 out of 5 stars Book to support GCSE coursework
Arrived quickly, great service once again. This is exactly the copy that was required by my sons school and will help him with his studies.
Published 6 months ago by Ripley
3.0 out of 5 stars GCSE English
it was part of my sons GCSE English class

know very little about book I know having his own copy meant he could write notes in it
Published 8 months ago by karen hart
5.0 out of 5 stars School
Had to purchase for school work very pleased withe quality for the moneyand arrived very promptly would not hesitate to purchase any other text that is needed
Published 10 months ago by Julie Quinnen
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspector calls.
This is great for GCSE English literature! It's perfect for all the notes and highlighting and it is a good play to read!
Published 14 months ago by Eloise May Hamilton-Rimmer
4.0 out of 5 stars GCSE An Inspector Calls
I would recommend this for other GCSE students. I haven't finished it yet but so far I am enjoying it.
Published 14 months ago by JENNIFER
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