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A Preface: The Beginning

In 1949, J.B. Priestley published a book of essays called Delight which contained over 100 short pieces each of which captured the essence of something he found delightful in his life. Today, we might say he was counting his blessings, but I think he was also pointing out the good found in the world around us and reminding his readers who were still recovering from the ravages of World War II that there was still beauty in the world.

John Boynton Priestley was born on September,13 1894 and died on August 14, 1984 at the age of 89. He was an English novelist, playwright, screenwriter, broadcaster and social commentator.

Priestley served in the British Army during the First World War, volunteering for the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment on 7 September 1914 and being posted to the 10th Battalion in France as a Lance-Corporal on 26 August 1915. He was badly wounded in June 1916 when he was buried alive by a trench mortar. He spent many months in military hospitals and convalescent establishments. After his military service Priestley received a university education at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. By the age of 30 he had established a reputation as an essayist and critic.

Priestley’s first major success came with a novel, The Good Companions (1929), which earned him the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and made him a national figure. His next novel, Angel Pavement (1930), further established him as a successful novelist. During the Second World War he was a regular broadcaster on the BBC. The Postscript, broadcast on Sunday night in 1940 and again in 1941, drew peak audiences of 16 million; only Churchill was more popular with listeners.

I don’t know how I came to know about J.B. Priestley, but in 2005, I purchased a first edition copy of his book Delight and upon reading it, I realized that I had been finding joy in the mundane things in life and didn’t even realize it. When I finished the book, I had grand expectations that one day I would write a book about the mundane things I take delight in, but time has passed and if there is one thing I learned during that time, it is this: You will never finish what you never start.

So, this is the beginning of my own collection of delights inspired by J.B. Priestley’s list of delights. It’s possible that you have to reach a certain age in order to discover the joy in the mundane. After all, Priestley was 55 when he published Delight, and as I start my journey of documenting my delights, I’m 58. Perhaps it takes that long to understand what really makes you happy.

I hope you enjoy.

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