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English Journey Hardcover – 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 348 pages
  • Publisher: The Folio Society; Reprint edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000F3PQ6U
  • Product Dimensions: 27.2 x 20 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 788,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

'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.' Introduction by Margaret Drabble


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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A really good read if you like time travelling back to the 1930s England - Priestley goes on a bit though, but much of what applied then does now! A couple of misprints here and there did not spoil it and the photos are a useful addition to the text. Glad to have it on the book shelf!
Warning, he's a bit blunt and goes on about what a muddle Birmingham was, I wonder if he'd change his mind today???
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Format: Hardcover
This is a review of the 1997 Folio Society edition, using the text of the original 1934 Heinemann publication.

The many photos in this edition help to locate the reader in the period described.

J.B. Priestly was a very popular novelist and playwright. His fame reached its peak in 1940 with his BBC radio broadcasts on Sunday evenings. These wartime commentaries reached upto 16 million UK listeners. He threatened to rival Churchill in popularity.
This book is his first exercise in social and political comment and is based on a journey through the England of 1933. Already a popular writer, he received a large advance from both Heinemann and Gollanz to support his travels by bus, train and his chauffeur-driven Daimler. His journey starts in the south and meanders through Bristol, the Cotswolds, Birmingham, the cities of the northwest and over to The Tyne and Durham, before returning to London via East Anglia.
He writes well in a simple, often humorous, direct prose. His contemporaries, Graham Greene, Virginia Woolfe and George Orwell were deeply suspicious of his popularity and influence, mocking his style and studied northern roots. Graham Greene wrote a thinly-disguised pipe-smoking and avuncular 'Priestly' into "Stamboul Train". Priestly sued Greene and won.
Priestly had served in the First World War and had been wounded by shrapnel and was later badly gassed and taken from the line. One of the highlights of the book is the record of his regimental reunion where he meets the 8 survivors of his old platoon. Some of these men believed he had been killed in action. That really is a reunion.
Some men from the old platoon had been invited and had been told that if they lacked funds, others would buy their tickets for them.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is social history of a time not long ago in terms of years but light years away from life now. Are we better off now? That is for you to decide. Priestley's writing is very easy to read and remember, he is just giving an account of how he saw life in Britain then.
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