NOT MANY authors are spared long enough to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their first ‘bestseller’ but last month J B Priestley could sit back and reflect upon the huge success of his picaresque novel, The good companions, first published 22nd July 1929. At first it achieved a modest but steady sale, seven thousand five hundred copies were sold by the end of the month, but from then onwards it took off in no uncertain fashion; at the height of the Christmas season his publishers, who had tentatively printed ten thousand copies originally, were sending out some five thousand a day. A year after publication it was still selling over one thousand copies a week at half a guinea a time. No wonder Priestley himself described it thirty years later as ‘this giant jackpot, this golden gusher, this genie out of the bottle’.
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