University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Bernard Shaw Collection

1887 - 1947

Manuscript Collection Number: 102
Accessioned: Partial gift of S. Hallock du Pont (1963) and Purchase (1968-1972).
Extent: 56 items
Content: Correspondence and inscriptions, contracts, receipts, proofs, a review, and an essay.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1990-1991 by Anita A. Wellner.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

George Bernard Shaw was born on July 26, 1856 in Dublin, Ireland, to George Carr and Lucinda Elizabeth Gurly Shaw. Although his family belonged to the landed Irish gentry, they were actually quite poor. Early in his life Shaw was tutored by his clerical uncle and briefly attended day schools; however, most of his useful education was obtained outside of the classroom through his avid reading, his theater attendance, the time he spent exploring the National Gallery of Ireland, and the variety of music which was ever-present in his home. Through his mother and her music teacher, George John Vandeleur Lee, Shaw was exposed to and absorbed a musical education.

By his sixteenth birthday Shaw was working in a land agent's office in Dublin. This work, which included keeping the books on the rentals of poor tenants and collecting their rent, confronted Shaw with economic inequalities. The insights gained during these experiences had a lasting influence on his political views.

In 1876 Shaw followed his mother and sister to London where he began his literary career by experimenting with short fiction, drama, and several novels (all rejected by publishers). His The Irrational Knot was serialized in 1885-1887 and finally published in book form in 1905.

The 1880s were a decade in which Shaw underwent extensive development. During this time he adopted socialism, became a vegetarian, developed as an orator and polemicist, and began seriously writing drama. He helped to found the Fabian Society, a middle-class socialist group which sought to transform English society, in 1884. His last novel, An Unsocial Socialist, (1883) incorporated his socialist views.

In this decade Bernard Shaw began writing criticism. He wrote book reviews for the Pall Mall Gazette (1885-1888), art criticism for the World (1886-1890), musical columns in the Star (as Corno di Bassetto from 1888-1890) and in the World (1890-1894), and theater criticism for the Saturday Review (1895-1898).

In 1898, during his recuperation from major illness, he married his unofficial nurse, Charlotte Payne-Townshend, an Irish heiress and friend of Beatrice and Sidney Webb. Their marriage lasted until Charlotte's death in 1943.

Although Shaw had experimented with drama at various times during his early writing days, it was his collaboration with William Archer in 1884 which produced Shaw's first serious dramatic work. The play, Widower's Houses, was abandoned for eight years but finally completed and staged in 1892 by the Independent Theatre Society. Shaw's career as a dramatist began slowly with his plays unappreciated or, as in the case of Mrs.Warren's Profession, banned. But with the production of Shaw's Man and Superman in 1905 his fame as a playwright was established. Other plays by Shaw include You Can Never Tell (1899), The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), Candida (1897), Misalliance (1910), Major Barbara (1905), Pygmalion (1913), Caesar and Cleoparta (1906), Overruled (1912), Saint Joan (1923), The Apple Cart (1929), Androcles and the Lion (1912), and Heartbreak House (1920).

In addition to being a renowned playwright, Bernard Shaw is also remembered for the challenging prefaces he wrote to his plays and books. Prefaces, published in 1934, is a collection of a number of these works.

One of Shaw's greatest achievements was his invention of the theater of ideas, by insisting that the theater provide some moral instruction. In the process he also created a new genre, the serious farce. The serious farce consisted of using the techniques of comedy to advance serious views on humanity, society, and political systems. His plays, criticism, and political conscience all helped shape the theater of his time and after. Bernard Shaw died on November 2, 1950 at the age of 94.


"Shaw, George Bernard." The Dictionary of National Biography, 1941-1950. Edited by L. G. Wickham Legg and E. T. Williams. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985). Pages 773-782.

Obituary. The New York Times. November 2, 1950. Page 1.

"Bernard Shaw." Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume 10. Written by Stanley Weintraub. Pages 129-148.

"Shaw, George Bernard 1846-1950." Contemporary Authors. Volume 128. Written by Fred D. Crawford. Pages 371-378.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, a contract, receipts, proofs, and inscriptions by the playwright, Bernard Shaw. The correspondence series includes letters to Edith and Pakenham Beatty, Hubert Bland, Reverend J. G. Bowran, F. Pepys Cockerell, St. John Ervine, Gardiner, Gurney, George S. King, John Kirkby, Jules Magny, Karl W. Musek, A. M. Palmer, William Poel, Paul R. Reynolds, Pharall Smith, Sobieniowski, T. Fisher Unwin, and Gleeson White.

The manuscripts include galley proofs for a version of "Fabian Manifesto," a Ts review titled "The Moral of Samuel Butler's Career," autograph and proof material for Prefaces, a proof for Everybody's Political What's What, and an autograph account of Shaw's early life and career.

The collection also includes photocopies of inscriptions by Shaw in books held in Special Collections, several receipts signed by Shaw, and a contract between Shaw and George Sidney King and Harry Douglas Parry for performances of Shaw's plays.

Series Outline

I.    Manuscripts Written or Edited by Shaw
II.   Correspondence From Shaw
III.  Inscriptions in Books by Shaw
IV.   Contracts and Receipts
V.    Everybody's Political What's What

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

  Series I.  Manuscripts Written or Edited by Bernard Shaw.  
          Includes drafts of "The Moral of Samuel Butler's Career," "Prefaces," an untitled
          work which may have been a different version of the "Fabian Manifesto," and an
          untitled work edited by Shaw.

F1   "[Fabian Manifesto]."  n.d.  
     Galley proofs, Clipping, and Ts. (18 pp.)  
     Rough draft of an untitled work which appears to be a version of the "Fabian Manifesto."
     Includes 5 pieces of galley proofs with a few autograph corrections and 13 pages of Ts.
     with extensive autograph corrections.  One page of the Ts. has an attached clipping.
     Possibly incomplete.

F2   "The Moral of Samuel Butler's Career."  n.d.
     Ts with extensive autograph corrections by Shaw (17 pp.)
     Possibly written ca. 1919-1920.  Written as a review of Henry Festing Jones' two volume
     biography, Samuel Butler, Author of Erewhon (1835-1902), it is, rather, a biting
     commentary on Butler's philosophy, life and work.  This is very much a statement of
     Shaw's own principles and views on English society. 

F3   "Prefaces."  1933-1934
     ANS, Autograph, printed and galley proofs (6 pp.)
     Material pertaining to Shaw's "Prefaces" (London: Constable, 1934).  Originally laid in a
     copy of Prefaces (Spec PR 5364 .P7 1934a).
     ANS.  1934: January 9 (1 p.)
     Shaw writes to an unidentified person concerning changes and the order of material in

     Autograph notes.  1933: June 24 (2 pp.)
     Autograph pages which delineate the arrangement of the contents page.

     Proof.  1934: January 1 (1 p.)
     Printed page 137 of Prefaces with autograph corrections by Shaw apparently used as a
     proof.  Also initialed by Shaw.
     Galley Proofs.  1933: December 10 (2 pp.)
     Two sheets of galley proofs with autograph corrections by Shaw.  One sheet is initialed
     and dated.

F4   Untitled.  n.d. (6 pp.)  
     Autograph manuscript in unknown hand with extensive autograph corrections and
     additions by Shaw (in black ink).  The manuscript is an account of Shaw's early life and
     career, with Shaw's corrections and additions adding biographical detail.  Incomplete,
     includes pages 2-7.  

     Series II.  Correspondence.
          Includes correspondence between Bernard Shaw and other individuals.  A number
          of the letters were originally laid in books written by Shaw which are housed in
          the Special Collections book collection.  

F5   [Beatty], Edith.  
     1900: October 12.  ALS.  London.  2 pp.
     From Shaw to Edith Beatty.  Originally laid in Caesar & Cleopatra  
     (Spec PR 5363 .C15 1905).

F6   [Beatty, Pakenham].  English poet.

     1887: May 27.  ALS.  29 Fitzroy Square W.  3 pp.
     From Shaw to Pakenham Beatty.  Originally laid in Fabianism and the Empire 
     (Spec HX 246 .S5).

     1904: November 23.  TLS.  Adelphi Terrace.  2 pp.
     From Shaw to Pakenham Beatty.  Autograph note at the bottom of page 2.

     [1912: February].  ACS.  [s.l.].  1 p.
     From Shaw to Pakenham Beatty.  Photograph postcard of Shaw.

F7   [Bland, Hubert].
     1887: August [20 or 30].  ALS (photocopy).  29 Fitzroy Square.  2 pp.
     In addition to this letter from Shaw to  Bland, also included here is a note from Dan H.
     Laurence, Shaw's bibliographer, (1978: November 27) which explains to whom Shaw
     was writing in this letter.  Laurence, who also edited Shaw's Collected Letters, notes that
     Bland was a member of the Fabian Society.  The original of Shaw's letter to Bland is
     tipped into Shaw's The Irrational Knot (Spec PR 5365 .I7 1905a).

F8   Bowran, Reverend J. G.
     [n.d.].   TLS.  10 Adelphi Terrace. 1 p.
     From Shaw to Bowran (editor of Aldersgate Magazine). This letter refers to article
     written by a Mr. Goodreid concerning Shaw's religious beliefs.  

F9   Cockerell, F. Pepys, Lt. Colonel.
     1925: July 4  ACS. 10 Adelphi Terrace.  1 p.
     From Shaw to Cockerell.  Originally laid in Dramatic Opinions and Essays...
     (Spec PN 2594 .S5 1907).
     Series II.  Correspondence (cont'd)

F10  Ervine, St. John.
     1929: February 6.  Cable.  London.  1 p.
     From Shaw to Ervine (of the Harvard Club in NY).  Also included here is a one page TLS
     from Ervine to Gabriel Wells (1929: March 4).  Both items were originally laid in Alan's
     Wife (Spec PR 4099 .B15 A79).

F11  Gardiner.
     1919: February 4.  ALS.  St. Lawrence, Welwyn.  1 p. 
     From Shaw to Gardiner.  Originally laid in Peace Conference Hints (Spec D 646 .S5).

F12  Gurney.
     1914: July 8.  TLS.  St. Lawrence, Welwyn.  1 p.
     From Shaw to Gurney.  Originally laid in The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the
     Ring of Niblungs (Spec MT 100 .W25 S5 1898).

F13  King, George S.
     1922: August 10.  ACS.  Rosslare, Co.  Wexford, Ireland.  1 p.
     From Shaw to King (of the Repertory Theatre, Plymouth) concerning Shaw's play,
     "Getting Married."  

F14  Kirkby, John.
     1904: January 4.  ACS (photocopy).  London. 1 p.  
     From Shaw to Kirkby.  The original is tipped in Shaw's Man and Superman 
     (Spec PR 5363 .M3 1903a).

F15  Magny, [Jules].
     1900: January 2.  ACS.  Aberystwyth.  2 pp.  
     From Shaw to Magny.

F16  Musek, W. [Karl].
     1919: August 28.  ALS.  10 Adelphi Terrace.  2 pp.  
     From Shaw to Musek (of Bohemia).

F17  Palmer, A. M.
     1899: April 27.  ALS (photocopy).  Blen-Cathra, Hindhead, Surrey.  1 p.  
     From Shaw to Palmer.  The original is tipped in Saint Joan: A Chronicle Play in Six
     Scenes and an Epilogue (Spec PR 5363 .S3 1924).

     Series II.  Correspondence (cont'd)

F18  Pickerill, William J. (of South Africa).

       1940: October 10.  TLS.  London.  1 p.

       1947: August 13.  TLS.  London.  2 pp.

F19  Poel, [William].
     1912: May 28.  ALS.  10 Adelphi Terrace. 2 pp.
     From Shaw to Poel (actor, manager, and scholar). Originally laid in The Dying Tongue of
     Great Elizabeth (Spec PR 2828 .S5).

F20  Reynolds, Paul.
     [1895: December 23].  ANS.  New York and London.  2 pp.
     Consists of an autograph note (signed) from Shaw to Reynolds on page two of a TLS
     from M. W. Putnam (of G. P. Putnam's Sons) to Paul Reynolds (of New York).

F21  Smith, Pharall.
     1903: September 18.  ALS.  Strachur, Argyllshire.  2 pp.
     From Shaw to Smith.  Originally laid in The Doctor's Dilemma, Getting Married and The
     Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet (Spec PR 5363 .A2 1911a).

F22  Sobieniowski.
     1928: November 10.  ALS (photocopy).  London.  2 pp.
     From Shaw to Sobieniowski (Shaw's translator).  The original letter is written on the 
     flyleaf of Alan`s Wife by Florence Eveleen Eleanore  (Spec PR 4099 .B15 A79).

F23  Unwin, T. Fisher.
     From Shaw to Unwin (publisher).

     1895: September 9.  ALS.  In care of The Argoed.  2 pp.

     1895: December 6.  ACS (photocopy).  29 Fitzroy Square, West.  2 pp.  The original is
     inserted in Ruskin's Politics (Spec PR 5267 .P6 S5).

     1896: February 11.  ALS.  29 Fitzroy Square, West.  2 pp.
     Originally inserted in Translations and Tomfooleries (Spec PR 5363 .A6 1926 c.4).

     1896: February 16.  ACS.  29 Fitzroy Square, West.  2 pp.
     Originally inserted in Heartbreak House, Great Catharine, and Playlets of the War 
     (Spec PR 5363 .A23 1919a).

          Series II.  Correspondence (cont'd)

F24  White, Gleeson.
     1895: August 2.  ACS.  c/o Sidney Webb, The Argoed.  
     From Shaw to Gleeson (editor of the Striker).  Originally inserted in John Bull's Other
     Island and Major Barbara; also how He Lied to Her Husband (Spec PR 5363 .J6 1907a). 

F25  [Unidentified].
     1909: August 10.  ACS.  10 Adelphi Terrace.  1 p.
     Printed presentation card with an autograph note and initialed by Shaw.  Originally laid in
     Passion, Poison and Petrification, or, the Fatal Gazogene (Spec PR 5365 .P37 1905).

     Series III.  Inscriptions by Bernard Shaw.
          Included in this folder are photocopies of original inscriptions by Shaw to various
          individuals in presentation copies of his books held in Special Collections.  The
          list is arranged alphabetically by name of the individual to whom the presentation
          is addressed.  Also provided are the call numbers for each book.

F26  Brouta.
     1906: December 15.  Autograph inscription, signed.  London.
     In: Translations and Tomfooleries (Spec PR 5363 .A6 1926a).

     Hayedon, Florence.
     1906: December 7.  Autograph inscription, signed.
     In: Man and Superman; A Comedy and a Philosophy (Spec PR 5363 .M3 1903a).

     Maxwell, William.
     1934: July 14.  Autograph inscription signed.
     In: Prefaces (Spec PR 5364 .P7 1934a).

     Morris, Mary (friend of Bertha Hammond).
     1933: December 22.  Autograph inscription, signed.
     In: An Unsocial Socialist (Spec PR 5365 .U57 1887).

     Musek, Karl.
     1914: May 17.  Autograph inscription, signed.
     In: Misalliance, The Dark Lady of the Sonnets, and Fanny's First Play...
     (Spec PR 5363 .A25 1914 c.4).

     Nash, Hilda.
     1928: June 8.  Autograph inscription, signed.  Harrogate.
     In: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism
     (Spec HX 246 .S53 1928a c. 2).
     Series III.  Inscriptions by Bernard Shaw (cont'd)
F26  Perkins, Eric.
     1944: Christmas.  Autograph inscription, signed.  Ayot Saint Lawrence. 
     In: Everybody's Political What's What (Spec JC 257 .S5 1944).

     Wells, Gabriel.
     1934: July 17.  Autograph inscription, signed.
     In: On the Rocks (Spec PR 5363 .O65 1933).

     [Wells], H. G.
     1939: December 7.  Autograph inscription, initialed.
     In: In Good King Charles's Days (Spec PR 5363 .I5).

     [Schneider and Jablonski]. 
     [n.d.].  Autograph notes, bibliographic information and inscription.  2 pp.  Note states:
     "copy marked for Messr. Schneider & Jablonski...The author does not claim that this copy
     cannot be translated in Germany, as the 10 years have expired."
     In: Cashel Byron's Profession (Spec PR 5365 .C37 1889).

     Series IV.  Contract and Receipts.
          Includes one contract signed and bearing notations by Bernard Shaw, as well as
          two receipts for payments received by him.  

F27  Contract between Shaw and George Sidney King and Harry Douglas Parry.
     1917.  Printed copy with autograph notes by Shaw and signed by Shaw (and witness, Ann
          Elder).  3 pp.
     The contract is for performances of Shaw's plays at the Repertory Theatre in Princess
     Square in Plymouth.  The plays by Shaw included in the contract are Candida, You Never
     Can Tell, Captain Brassbound's Conversion, The Doctor's Dilemma, and Fanny's First

     1917: December 5.  Printed receipt signed by Shaw with autograph insertions.  1 p.
     To George S. King and H. D. Parry.  Money received for performances of Shaw's
     Fanny's First Play at the Repertory Theatre in Plymouth.

     1922: July 31.  Printed receipt signed by Shaw with autograph insertions and signed by
          Shaw.  1 p.  
     To G.S. King for performances of Shaw's You Never Can Tell at the Repertory Theatre in

     Series V.  Everybody's Political What's What (London: Constable, 1944).  
          Material is housed in a case with spine title What's What/Final Proof/
          Supplementary Corrections/1944.  Includes material originally laid in this final
          proof as well as the proof which Shaw has corrected in autograph notes.  The
          proof also has typed slips of text as added by Shaw.  The cover of the proof is
          stamped "second proof" and displays a lengthy autograph note to the publisher
          from Shaw.  The material originally laid in the final proof edition is housed in a
          pocket in the case and is listed below. 

     A slip bearing an autograph note by Shaw. Signed by Shaw and dated 1944: October 10. 
     Concerns a correction to be made on page 99.    1 p.

     An autograph note by [WM] with an autograph note in red ink by Shaw (initialed and
     dated 1944: April 13, by Shaw).  Concerns a correction for page 142.    1 p.

     ANS.  1944: December 13.  Initialed by Shaw.  1 p.  More corrections for Everybody's
     Political What's What.

     Autograph transcript in shorthand.  By Shaw?  Shaw's initials appear on one page.  4 pp. 
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