J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls
J.B. Priestly wrote an Inspector Calls in the winter of 1944-1945 near
the end of the Second World War. It only took him a week to write.
He then sent it to Moscow (because there were no theatres available in
London), where it was performed simultaneously in two theatres in
1945. It was first performed in this country in London on 1st October
1946 at the New Theatre. J.B. Priestly probably sent it to Moscow
because Russia was a communist country (it took socialism to
extremes). It was set in 1912.
The context of the play is when there was the establishment of the
Welfare State, which was a part of socialism where everyone was equal
and had the same opportunities as each other and the same rights as
When the curtains were opened the audience were quite surprised at the
London production as the stage was set out with the Birlings House
above the stage because all of the Birlings and Gerald are enclosed
into a little house just big enough to stand in. It gives you a great
sense of claustrophobia and makes the audience think that the Birlings
are in their own little world because they are of a higher class than
the people that are wealthy as they have good solid furniture of the
period the play is set in. The general effect is very comfortable but
not cosy and homelike.
The opening of the play is relaxed and the Birlings and Gerald seem to
be celebrating something, they all seem to be self satisfied and
cheerful. The audience expects this to be challenged, but they don’t
know how except that it has got to have something to do with an
Mr Birling is a heavy looking man, a rather significant man in his
middle fifties with fairly easy manners, but rather countrified in his
speech. He is very sure of himself and what he says goes. Mrs Birling
is about fifty, a rather cold woman and socially bigger than her
husband. Sheila is Mr and Mrs Birling’s daughter. She is in her
early twenties, very happy with life and quite excited. Gerald Croft
is marrying Sheila and is the son of Mr Birling’s friendly rival and
hopes that Birling and Co and Croft Limited can join after the
marriage. He is about thirty and quite manly. He is the well bred
man about town. Eric is the son of Mr and Mrs Birling and in his
early twenties. He is not at ease, half shy and half assertive.
Throughout the play we find out each person’s involvement with a lady
called Eva Smith or otherwise known as Daisy Renton through the
investigations of the Inspector.
Mr Birling shows what he thinks he can achieve from his daughter’s
marriage to Gerald.
“And perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings
are no longer competing, but are working together – for lower costs
Mr Birling is...