Tag Archives: Priestley

Early Summer Special News

Out now, the lucky 13th issue of Special Collections News, packed with images and news including Bravo PaxCat, Priestley’s finest hour, Celebrating Jacquetta, and You made me shove you!

Dearest Jacquetta, love Iris

Iris Murdoch and JBP on steps at Kissing Tree House

Iris and JBP at Kissing Tree House ca. 1969

Iris Murdoch is in the news this week: a collection of her letters to surrealist novelist Raymond Queneau has been acquired by Kingston University’s Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies.

This story encouraged me to look again at the Iris Murdoch material in the  Hawkes Archive. Iris knew the Priestleys well for many years.  JB adapted her novel A Severed Head into a play, with great success.  Like Jacquetta, she was active in the CND Women’s Group.  Her introduction to Diana Collins’ memoir Time and the Priestleys offers a charming picture of the Priestleys as hospitable and life-enhancing friends.

The Hawkes Archive includes several letters and postcards from Iris to Jacquetta.  Although the subject matter is mainly social (relating to lunches, parties), all but the very shortest give a flavour of her writing style and personality.  I particularly liked her description of a weekend spent with the Priestleys: “I loved talking, and listening, and looking out of the window, and swimming, and drinking, and seeing the nightjars” and the quirky “I am now in a house of riotous children on the edge of the moor.  We walked on the moor last night which is very old and obviously still inhabited by abominable stone men”.

Past, Present, Man, Nature: 7. Mrs Pro and Mr Con on tour

Past, Present, Man, Nature: celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes.

An online exhibit by Alison Cullingford, Special Collections Librarian, University of Bradford.

Intro | Credits | Previous | Next

7. Mrs Pro and Mr Con on tour

Jacquetta and JBP at cafe table

Jacquetta and JBP at cafe table

Travel was a major part of the Priestleys’ lives, for business and pleasure.  Jacquetta travelled abroad reporting for the Observer and other newspapers, and, as increasingly eminent people, both travelled to many conferences and events.   Their journeys are documented by many photographs, like this one showing them at a café table in Greece.  Jacquetta’s Archive is full of 35 mm slides of Taormina, Mexico, Amsterdam, Trinidad, Poland, Palestine …

Flight bulletin

Flight bulletin

This flight bulletin from a trip to Portugal for a lecture tour in 1949 is a rare survival in the Archive of the ephemera of travel.

Journey down a Rainbow

Journey down a Rainbow

One of the most interesting results of the Priestleys’ travels was “Journey down a rainbow” (1955), in which Priestley analysed 1950s USA while Jacquetta responded with delight to the survival of ancient pueblo culture in New Mexico.

Another shared piece, an unpublished article about a trip to Ceylon from 1970, gives us a feel for the roles adopted by the Priestleys abroad: Mrs Pro (Jacquetta) revelling in the “vegetable sculpture” of the paddy fields and the “huge glistening leaves” of the jungle, Mr Con (J.B.) complaining that “I’ve seen a fair number of jungles now, and I don’t want any of them”.

Past, Present, Man, Nature: 4. “The clash of opposites”

Past, Present, Man, Nature: celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes.

An online exhibit by Alison Cullingford, Special Collections Librarian, University of Bradford.

Intro | Credits | Previous | Next

4. “The clash of opposites”

In 1947, Jacquetta, mourning Turner and not entirely happy in her marriage, met and fell in love with J.B. Priestley.  Priestley was a well-known novelist and playwright, famed for his wartime Postscript broadcasts.  His own marriage, to Jane, was in difficulties.  Jacquetta was UK secretary to UNESCO and JB had been chosen as a delegate for a Mexico conference.  With Priestley already intrigued by “J.J. Hawkes” on “those grey letters”, the two actually met when Jacquetta brought him a horrible pink jelly at a pre-conference briefing: the “Moment of the Pink Cake”.  Eventually, after many difficulties, both were divorced.  They married in 1953.

Jacquetta and JBP in 1958

Jacquetta and JBP in 1958

This 1958 image shows them sharing a happy moment, probably on the Isle of Wight.  Christopher and Jane also had happy later marriages, Christopher to fellow archaeologist Sonia Chadwick and Jane to David Bannerman, an ornithologist.

Jacquetta and Priestley agreed on politics and loved the arts, but otherwise had very different characters and social backgrounds.  However, they relished these differences, feeling that they complemented each other, both intrigued by the ideas of Jung.  They explored these together in their platform play, “Dragon’s Mouth” (1951), which features four individuals representing Jung’s functions of sensation, intellect, intuition and emotion.  Jacquetta wrote the parts of Stuart and Nina, intellect and sensation, the two sides of her personality.  The contrast between Jacquetta’s cool intellect and reserve, and her passionate emotions and love of beauty, crops up frequently in her writings and in comments made about her by others, e.g. Priestley’s “ice without, fire within”, or her friend Diana Collins “Athena and Aphrodite”.  If the words she wrote for Nina express her own views, she would “glory in the clash of opposites”, in her own nature and with Priestley.

Jacquetta and Bradford

The Jacquetta Hawkes Archive came to the University of Bradford in 2003, when we were delighted to add it to Special Collections.  Jacquetta Hawkes had an obvious connection with the city via her second husband, J.B. Priestley, who grew up in Bradford and used it as the inspiration for many of his finest novels and plays. This image shows her alongside Priestley’s son, Tom, unveiling a plaque at one of JBP’s childhood homes in Bradford, 34 Mannheim Road.

But the connection between her Archive and Bradford  goes beyond the simple fact of her marriage.  Priestley’s Archive was already the most important and best-used archive in Special Collections.  It soon became clear to us that the two archives slot together to illuminate each other: although the Priestleys maintained their separate careers, they co-wrote books, travelled and entertained together, and shared a secretary.  Jacquetta’s profession and interests also tie in with our research and teaching at Bradford.  She was an archaeologist by profession and passion, and championed social and political causes, particularly nuclear disarmament in the late 1950s, hence the cross-over with our Archaeology and Peace Studies departments.