The Great Depression: Unemployment and Poverty
Part of the
Context and Commentary
In the autumn of 1933 the popular novelist J.B. Priestley (1894–1984) set out on a journey that took him throughout most of the length and breadth of England, from Southampton and Bristol to Lancashire and Tyneside; and early in the following year he published an account of his travels. English Journey
begins in the south, and its tone is at first relaxed and good-humoured. When he reaches the Black Country, however, Priestley’s manner becomes less genial: of one street in West Bromwich, for instance, he writes:
I have never seen such a picture of grimy desolation as that street offered me. If you put it, brick for brick, into a novel, people would not accept it, would condemn you as a caricaturist and talk about Dickens.