Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Bruddersford. Industrial town of north-central England modeled on Bradford, in which Priestley grew up. The novel opens with an almost cinematic longshot of the Pennine Range, “the knobbly backbone of England,” moves in on the black, windy moors of the Yorkshire-Lancashire border, and then targets Bruddersford in one of the range’s valleys, looking at the town’s tramlines, enormous factories (many now idle), and slimy canals. Bruddersford’s streets are stifling, and in spite of the city center’s Free Library and Imperial Music Hall, life on Jesiah Oakroyd’s Ogden Street is narrow and mean. Jesiah dreams about his beloved married daughter in Canada, and the loss of his job, coupled with a family quarrel, sends him off on the Great North Road.


Hitherton-on-the-Wole. Town in the hills of the Cotswolds in southwestern England, which are not like the Pennines in northern England. Here, the wind is gentle, the scale is smaller, and sunlight turns the stone houses a soft pink. Hitherton-on-the-Wole may be less picturesque than Broadway or Chipping Campden, but it is still a pretty Cotswold village, where thirty-seven-year-old Elizabeth Trant has long tended her elderly father at the hall. His death and her inheritance free her to change direction, and on impulse she buys a small car and embarks on adventure (though her initial plan is only to visit a few cathedral towns, such as Ely).

Washbury Manor School

Washbury Manor School. Redbrick boarding school for boys in East Anglia. Here the land is flat and dreary, crisscrossed by drainage canals that make the fens habitable. Winds blowing down from the North Sea scour the desolate...

(The entire section is 717 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Atkins, John. J. B. Priestley: The Last of the Sages. New York: Riverrun Press, 1981. In chapter 22, “The Craft of Fiction,” Atkins admires the book’s vigor, observation, humor, and pace, but he finds fault with The Good Companions where others find strength and labels the book a literary phenomenon rather than a masterpiece.

Braine, John. J. B. Priestley. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978. Chapter 3, “The Crowded Page,” provides an excellent introduction to The Good Companions. Shows how this novel established Priestley’s literary persona, why it did not become dated, and how Priestley combines objective narrative with subjective themes.

Cooper, Susan. J. B. Priestley: Portrait of an Author. London: Heinemann, 1970. Chapter 2, “Professional,” examines Priestley’s ability to delineate character and demonstrate keen insight in even his minor character portraits. Points out Priestley’s ability to weave a seemingly effortless tale while concealing his brilliant craft. Concludes that it is a great escapist romance of character and situation that does not wallow in false emotion or sentimentality.

DeVitis, A. A., and Albert Kalson. J. B. Priestley. Boston: Twayne, 1980. In chapters 2, “The Novels: Themes and Directions,” and 3, “First Efforts,” the authors assert that The Good Companions’ greatest achievement is its social analysis.

Hughes, David. J. B. Priestley: An Informal Study of His Work. London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1958. Chapter 4, “A Promising Young Novelist,” discusses Priestley’s ability to describe locale and character. Examines how The Good Companions captured and interpreted the mood of its time.