Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Priestley, J B

(1894-1984) UK novelist and playwright whose once immensely popular novels have worn less well than his plays. Some of his work uses sf devices (> SFE); fantasy is not so much represented. In novels, the Absurdist movie universe in Albert Comes Through (1933) is relegated to Rationalized Fantasy as a Dream, and the genially humorous The Thirty-First of June: A Tale of True Love, Enterprise and Progress, in the Arthurian and Ad-Atomic Ages (1961) involves Wizard-mediated Portal crossings between modern London and a medieval Fantasyland, the Transformation of an ad exec into a Dragon, and an ultimate Crosshatch linking of worlds with a view to future tourism. More seriously, JBP's interest in the Time theories of J W Dunne (1875-1949) and P D Ouspensky (1878-1947) led to such "time plays" as: Dangerous Corner (1932), offering a timeline where opening a metaphorical Pandora's Box produces a cascade of increasingly destructive revelations, and then an Alternate Reality where the dangerous sequence is averted by chance; Time and the Conways (1937), whose middle act is one character's transforming, Dunne-style vision of her imperfect future; and I Have Been Here Before (1937), pitting free will against Ouspensky's cycle of eternal return. Two Time-Plays (omni 1937) and Three Time Plays (omni 1947) assemble, respectively, the latter two and all three. Johnson over Jordan (1939) is a less successful Afterlife fantasy whose late hero is questioned by spiritual examiners and relives parts of his life before leaving for regions unknown. [DRL]

further reading: The Amazing Theatre (coll 1939) by James Agate (1877-1947) reviews early performances of most cited plays.

John Boynton Priestley

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.