Good Companions for the Clockwork Orange?
JB Priestley ranked No 1 by Anthony Burgess
AUTHOR Anthony Burgess had the pick of the world’s finest when he was asked to pick his No 1 writer.
Without hesitation, Burgess chose fellow Englishman and fellow Northerner J B Priestley as the one he most admired.
So it’s perfectly apt that the Bradford-based J B Priestley Society – set up to honour the Great Man of Letters – is combining with the Manchester-based International Anthony Burgess Foundation to put on a special celebratory lecture in Manchester on Saturday, March 16th.
The lecture, “English anxieties: J B Priestley and Anthony Burgess,” is being given by Dr Andrew Biswell, Director of the Burgess Foundation and author of “The Real Life of Anthony Burgess.”
The free-entry event takes place at 2pm at the IABF Centre in Chorlton Mill, No 3, Cambridge Street, Manchester, and will be followed by a question and answer session.
Dr Biswell will reveal how Burgess chose Priestley as his ‘most admired writer’ when asked to select his all-time No 1 by the New York Times, which was doing a world-wide survey of literary figures during the 1970s.
Dr Biswell said: “Burgess rated Jack Priestley very highly. He thought his book ‘The Image Men’ was the best novel he had ever read. In fact, he read it ten times during his lifetime. That shows the impact it had on him.”
He added: “Burgess may have had different opinions and views than those of Priestley, but I think he recognised Priestley’s Northern roots and his understanding of people and events.
“They both travelled the world and left their birthplaces on either side of the Pennines to pursue their careers – but their Northerness was a common factor and remained there forever. Both of them made their mark in their own ways and both are fascinating people in their own right.”
The Manchester initiative by the JB Priestley Society is part of a long-term plan to explore the wider links and connections with the celebrated author, playwright, journalist and broadcaster who has had such a profound impact on British culture and society over the past 100 years.
Many of Priestley’s books are still in print and his plays are still being put on at both professional and amateur levels throughout the world. Most recently, his masterpiece play “An Inspector Calls” not only toured the UK professionally but also enjoyed great success in London’s West End and on New York’s Broadway.
Priestley, born and brought up in Bradford during its late Victorian and Edwardian boom times, had early success with his work ‘The Good Companions,’ going on to become a prolific author and playwright whose work includes his seminal An English Journey, Bright Day and Angel Pavement, as well as his celebrated plays, among them Dangerous Corner, Time and the Conways, and An Inspector Calls.
Across the Pennines, Burgess, who was born in 1917 and who died in 1993, was raised in Manchester’s Harpurhey and Moss Side areas, before studying at Manchester University. He went on to live and work in Malaya, Monaco, Italy and the USA and is still widely read throughout the world.
He became a novelist, poet, playwright, composer, linguist and critic, and is best known for his novel “A Clockwork Orange,” which was turned into a shock film by Stanley Kubrick. However, like Priestley, Burgess was prolific on many and varied fronts, writing 33 novels, 25 works of non-fiction and composed more than 150 musical works.
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