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The J. B. Priestley Archive

I belong at heart to the pre-1914 North Country. Part of me is still in Bradford, can never leave it ... something at the core of me is still in Market Street hearing the Town Hall chimes

J. B. Priestley (Margin Released)

J. B. Priestley

Writer, broadcaster and critic J. B. Priestley (1894-1984) may be best known for his "time plays", such as An Inspector Calls, for enduringly popular novels like The Good Companions and Angel Pavement and for his wartime broadcasts, the Postscripts. However, he also wrote essays, autobiography, social history and time theory. Priestley was active in politics, although never a member of any party, expressing his concerns (for instance about the nuclear arms race) through commentary and campaigning.

Born and brought up in Bradford, Priestley used his Yorkshire background in some of his finest works, such as Bright Day and When we are married. His connections with the city were later marked by the statue near Central Library and the naming of the J. B. Priestley Library at the University of Bradford, which he officially opened in 1975. The University awarded him the title of honorary Doctor of Letters in 1970, and he was awarded the freedom of the City of Bradford in 1973 and the Order of Merit in 1977.

Discover more about Priestley via our 100 Objects exhibition, which includes several sections on particularly interesting aspects of his life, works and ideas.

J. B. Priestley at his typewriter, National Hotel, Moscow, 1945.

Discover the J. B. Priestley Archive

Archive reference: PRI

The J. B. Priestley Archive is one of the largest and most popular of the Special Collections at Bradford. Most of the material has been kindly donated by the Priestley Estate. The Archive includes scripts of plays, films and TV broadcasts, journal articles, lectures, press cuttings, theatre programmes and other publicity material, business and personal correspondence and a huge collection of photographs. There are even personal effects, such as Priestley's iconic pipes.

The Archive of Jacquetta Hawkes, Priestley's third wife, complements Priestley's from the 1950s onwards.

J.B. Priestley Archive interim catalogue 2013

Our most recent version of the catalogue of the Priestley Archive, including scripts, letters, photographs and more.

If you require this information in an alternative format, please contact our team. You can also read our Website Accessibility Statement.

The Priestley Book Collection

Special Collections also has a superb collection of published books by and about Priestley. The author himself donated a set of his works published by Heron Books in the 1960s, supplemented by many works donated by the Priestley Estate and various individuals. The book collection includes novels, essays, plays, pamphlets and works of biography and history. We also include volumes to which Priestley contributed a preface or an article, and biographies. Many of our books are first editions, some signed; we also collect later editions, translations, paperbacks and audio-visual material.

New Postscripts

“The ‘Postscripts’ were a series of short BBC radio broadcasts made by Bradford-born writer J.B. Priestley during WW2. With the ‘Postscripts’, Priestley created a new, more intimate radio style, offering personal portraits of events large and small and delivered with a distinct regional accent.

This project has created a set of ‘New Postscripts’ with a diverse range of voices that utilise the spoken word, music and sound effects. The project consists of seven five-minute radio pieces for broadcast on BBC Sounds. The ‘New Postscripts’ are varied and experimental; fresh takes on British cultural history and the British landscape.

Although Priestley’s ‘Postscripts’ were broadcast during wartime, they often focussed on smaller everyday experiences - trips out, food and the weather. These ‘New Postscripts’ paint a diverse portrait of contemporary lived experience.

The BBC began its life as a radio broadcaster and this project highlights how radio is still an important aspect of its work in the 21st century.”

BBC Rewind – Postscripts