The public will be able to read almost 50 unpublished letters from the first world war trenches by the writer JB Priestley, one of the last great literary voices of the conflict, from next month.

The archive of 47 letters and postcards to his father, sister and stepmother have been given to Bradford University by the writer's son Tom, an author and film-maker who is publishing the full correspondence as a book next year.

Hurriedly pencilled by candlelight or in mud-engulfed billets, they give brief but vivid pictures of the terrible conditions which the young man from Bradford survived but was never able to incorporate into his novels and plays. Disgust at bungled generalship and the waste of hundreds of thousands of "the best of us" silenced a man whose output was otherwise prodigious. He told friends after the slaughter, in which he was wounded three times after volunteering in 1914, that he just wanted to live again after four years simply trying to stop himself and others being pointlessly killed.

The material includes stark descriptions of a nightmare posting to the notorious Vimy Ridge in 1916, where Priestley was seriously wounded by a mortar shell. [...]