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An Inspector Calls and Other Plays (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 29 Mar 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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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: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,738 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.


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By nora on 12 April 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
GOOD quality. HOWEVER DO REMEMBER IT IS ALL THE PLAYS NOT JUST INSPECTOR CALLS.
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John Boynton Priestley (1894 – 1984) was during the thirties, forties and fifties regarded as one of Britain’s leading novelists and dramatists, and towards the end of his long life took on the role of Grand Old Man of English letters. Since his death, however, his reputation has faded somewhat, and some of what were once among his most famous books are now out of print. “An Inspector Calls” is something of an exception and today is probably his best-known work, certainly his best-known play, and has attained something of the status of as a classic of the British theatre, especially since Stephen Daldry’s famous 1992 production.

Priestley was politically on the left, and “An Inspector Calls” is a socialist parable thinly disguised as a detective thriller. Arthur Birling, a wealthy industrialist and former Lord Mayor of a large Midlands city, is hosting a dinner party one evening to celebrate the engagement of his daughter when the gathering is interrupted by the arrival of a police Inspector who states that he is investigating the death of a woman once employed at Birling’s factory. None of the family is suspected of murder; the death was clearly suicide. Under the Inspector's questioning, however, it is revealed that each member of the family in some way helped to drive her to kill herself and must therefore bear some moral responsibility for her death.

In some ways this is a very conservative (with a small “c”) play. Priestley observes the Classical Unities of place, time and action, with the whole action taking place in the Birlings’ dining-room over the course of a single evening. The dead woman, Eva Smith, is often referred to, but never seen.
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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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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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This book came very quickly, it looked exactly as shown and was brand new, I needed this for my GCSEs so I could annotate and it even comes with other interesting plays which I appreciated, it's been a good read so far so I'm impressed
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'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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This was the third and final item on my list of GCSE texts. I'll admit, I approached it with some trepidation, owing to the fact that it was a play, rather than an ordinary book- an area of literature that I'm embarrassingly unfamiliar with. Couple this with the fact that I was rather put off plays a couple of years ago, when we read 'An Enemy of The People' in Year 9. An unrelenting stream of dialogue about bacteria in a water supply proved to be disastrously unpopular in a class of bored 13 year olds, regardless of the enthusiasm of my English teacher.

Anyway, back to the play at hand. A couple of my friends (who are, it has to be said, just as nerdy as I am, had already read 'An Inspector Calls' and subsequently raved about it, and from some of my friends, any sort of positive comment is high praise indeed). Besides, I do love a good mystery, and the blurb served its purpose well.
So, having been reeled in by the enigma of the play, I started reading it with a fair bit of enthusiasm.

It's 1912, and the Birling family are celebrating the engagement of Sheila Birling to wealthy aristocrat Gerald Croft, with a modest dinner party at the family home.
All seems well, until the arrival of a mysterious police inspector, who informs the gathering that a girl has died after drinking some strong disinfectant.
It soon becomes apparent that each member of the family is linked to the girl in some way, and that each of them played a part in the sequence of events which ultimately led to her suicide.
As the truth is slowly revealed, secrets come out, relationships are fractured and the family will never be the same again.

I thought this play was absolutely brilliant.
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