John Boynton Priestley (1894 - 1984) was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, son of a schoolmaster. He left Belle Vue School at 16 and worked in a wool office, beginning to write in his spare time. He volunteered for the army in 1914 and served throughout the First World War, surviving the grim conditions of the trenches. He gained a grant to go to Cambridge and launched his professional career with Brief Diversions, a collection of short pieces, which attracted attention in London. Mr. Priestley entered the theatre in 1932 with Dangerous Corner, and dominated the London stage during the 1930s with a succession of plays such as I Have Been Here Before, Time and the Conways, When We Are Married, An Inspector Calls, The Linden Tree, and The Glass Cage. During the Second World War, he established a new reputation as a broadcaster. A profilic writer, he continued writing novels, notably Bright Day and Lost Empires, and an important list of non-fiction, English Journey, launched him into a new role as a social commentator. Mr. Priestley was married three times and had four daughters and one son. He was a lifelong socialist of the old kind, yet never joined the Labour Party. He was a spokesman for the ordinary people, unashamedly middlebrow, patriotic, honest and, opposed to the class system. He turned down offers of a knighthood and a peerage but gladly accepted the Order of Merit in 1977.