In 1912 pompous industrialist Arthur Birling, who has hopes of a knighthood, his superior wife Sybil and young son Eric are celebrating the engagement of daughter Sheila to eligible Gerald Croft when they are visited by blunt Inspector Goole. He tells them of the suicide of a young woman named Eva Smith and though they all claim not to have known her the inspector demonstrates that each in their own way contributed to her downfall, by having her dismissed from work or, in the young men's cases, having sexual relationships and then abandoning her. After Goole has left the youngsters feel ashamed and the engagement is halted but Arthur Birling, doubting the inspector's authority, rings the local police station. This is the prelude to a double shock which will lead to the family's humiliation and ruin. Written by don @ minifie-1
. 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.
It is rare to see Priestley's play interpreted in such a Christian context today, even though England today remains a Christian nation and retains a high percentage (but a decreasing percentage) of Christians. It is interesting that Priestley's message has found more resonance in modern theories of politics and sociology than in Christian conceptions of sin, forgiveness, and guilt. This set of different, even contradictory, interpretations suggests a universality that might ensure the long-term endurance of Priestley's play.