qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

An English Journey

Book Review: English Journey, by J B Priestley
Not really a travelogue, this was an attempt by Priestley to document social conditions across the country in the early 1930s. It's certainly not Betjeman: there's a nod to architecture here and there, but no more. One gets the impression Priestley was trying hard to be an angry man, outraged by poor conditions in deprived areas, but at the same time he can't help noting the generally uplifting popular spirit, at least when among working people whose factories he disapproves of. He paints a picture of the work people do, and how they spend their spare time, though often this knowledge is acquired through a network of personal contacts rather than spontaneous observation.

His journey begins in Southampton, then to Bristol, Swindon, and the Cotswolds; then to the Midlands, Yorkshire, the Potteries, the North West, the North East, and down the east coast. Initially he observes prosperity, but highlights particular areas in the Midlands, the Potteries, and the North where industry once made an area prosperous (though probably without that prosperity being fairly shared), but has since left. One gets the feeling that whilst much has changed in the last seventy-odd years, there are still many timeless notes here.
Tags: books
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