An Inspector Calls is a play written by English dramatist J. B. Priestley, first performed in 1945 in the Soviet Union and 1946 in the UK. It is one of Priestley's best known works for the stage and considered to be one of the classics of mid-20th-century English theatre. The play's success and reputation has been boosted in recent years by a successful revival by English director Stephen Daldry for the National Theatre in 1992., and a tour of the UK in 2011–2012.
The play is a three-act drama, which takes place on a single night in 1912, who live in a comfortable home in Brumley, "an industrial city in the north Midlands". The family is visited by a man calling himself Inspector Goole, who questions the family about the suicide of a young working-class woman, Eva Smith . The family are interrogated and revealed to have been responsible for the young woman's exploitation, abandonment and social ruin, effectively leading to her death. Long considered part of the repertory of classic "drawing room" theatre, the play has also been hailed as a scathing critique of the hypocrisies of Victorian/Edwardian English society and as an expression of Priestley's Socialist political principles. The play is studied in many schools in the UK as one of the prescribed texts for the English Literature GCSE examination.
At the Birlings' home in 1912, Arthur Birling, a wealthy mill owner and local politician, and his family are celebrating the engagement of daughter Sheila to Gerald Croft, Birling's competitor's son. In attendance is Arthur's wife Sybil and their adult children Sheila and Eric. Eric, the youngest, has a drinking problem that is discreetly ignored. After dinner, Arthur speaks about the importance of self-reliance. A man, he says, must "make his own way" and protect his own interests.
Inspector Goole arrives, interrupts the evening and explaining that a woman called Eva Smith has killed herself by drinking strong disinfectant. He implies that she has left a...