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Queen Mary, University of London

SHAW, George Bernard (1856-1950)


Reference code(s): GB 0370 PP9

Held at: Queen Mary, University of London

Title: SHAW, George Bernard (1856-1950)

Date(s): 1927-1928

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 5 items

Name of creator(s): Shaw | George Bernard | 1856-1950 | Irish dramatist, critic and novelist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born, Dublin, 1856; attended a Weslyan school, but was largely self educated through visits to the National Gallery of Ireland and wide reading; worked as a cashier, 1872-1876; moved to London in 1876 to join his mother and sister; wrote but failed to publish five novels, 1878-1883; strongly influenced by Karl Marx's Das Kapital; joined and became a leading member of the Fabian Society, 1884, and edited Fabian Essays in Socialism, 1889; worked as a book, drama and music critic for the Pall Mall Gazette, 1885-1888, the World, 1886-1889, the Star, 1888-1890, and the Saturday Review, 1895-1898; published The quintessence of Ibsenism, 1891; wrote Widowers' Houses for performance by Independent Theatre, 1892, attacking slum landlords and allying Shaw with a realistic and political movement in the theatre; this was followed by The Philanderer (1893), Mrs Warren's Profession (1893, concerning prostitution and banned until 1902), Arms and the Man (1894), Candida (1897) and You Never Can Tell (1899); obtained first successful production of a play with The Devil's Disciple, New York, 1897; married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, 1898; wrote Captain Brassbound's Conversion for Ellen Terry, 1900; completed Caesar and Cleopatra, 1899, which was produced by Mrs Patrick Campbell in 1901; established as a playwright of international importance, with the completion and performance of Man and Superman (1901-1903), John Bull's Other Island (1904), Major Barbara (1905) and The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), which were produced by Harley Granville-Barker for the Royal Court Theatre; wrote his most popular play, Pygmalion, in 1913 (he later adapted it for the screen, winning an Academy Award in the process); during World War One, made numerous anti-war speeches; his postwar plays include Heartbreak House (1920), Back to Methuselah (1922), and St Joan (1923); won the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1925, but refused the award; established the Anglo-Swedish Literary Foundation for the translation of Swedish literature into English; wrote extensively on social, economic and political issues, notably The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928), and Everybody's Political What's What? (1944); his later plays, produced at the Malvern Festivals, included The Apple Cart (1929), Too True to be Good (1932) and Geneva (1939); retired, 1943; left residue of his estate to institute a British alphabet of at least 40 letters; died 1950.
Publications: include: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (Constable & Co, London, 1928); The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God (Constable and Co, London, 1932); Everybody's Political What's What? (Constable & Co, London, 1944).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of and relating to George Bernard Shaw, 1927-1928, comprising 2 letters and a compliment card to Beatrice White (later Professor White), 1927, concerning the indexing of his book The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism (Beatrice White indexed the book); press cuttings of a review of the book, 1928.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The papers are listed chronologically.

Conditions governing access:

The Archives are available for access in an Archives Reading Room located on the 2nd Floor of the Mile End Library. The Archives Reading Room is open Tuesdays to Thursdays 10am-4.30pm and Monday and Friday by appointment only. Users are invited to contact the Archives in advance, so that more information can be supplied concerning archive collections of relevance to their research. Contact the Archives for more information: Archives, Mile End Library, QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 3873, email: For more information about the Archives see the website:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

A draft list of the correspondence is available at the Library.

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated to Westfield College by Professor Beatrice White.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

The British Library of Political and Economic Science holds Shaw's diaries (reference: SR 0293) and a collection of photographs (reference: Shaw Photographs). Further material relating to Shaw may be found in the papers of Sir Arthur Bowley (reference: Coll Misc 0773), Labour Movement photographs (Coll Misc 0705), Professor William Alexander Robson (Coll Misc 0708), the Fabian Society (reference: Fabian Society), Alfred George Gardiner (reference: Gardiner), the Independent Labour Party (reference: ILP), the London School of Economics and Political Science (reference: LSE/Central Filing Registry), Beatrice and Sidney Webb (reference: Passfield), the Royal Economic Society (reference: RES), Professor Graham Wallas (reference: Wallas), Leonard Henry Courtney (reference: Courtney), Andrew Maclaren (reference: Coll Misc 0550), and Herbert Morrison (reference: Morrison). The Library also holds corrected essays from Fabian essays in socialism (reference: Coll Misc 0360), comments by Shaw on resolutions for the Fabian Society's Transvaal meeting (reference: Coll Misc 0485), and a typescript history of the Fabian Society by Edward Reynolds Pease, with corrections by Shaw and Webb (reference: SR 1026).
The British Library, London, holds correspondence and papers (reference: Add Mss 50508-743, 63179-187, 63728), and correspondence with Charlotte Shaw, 1896-1934 (reference: Add Mss 46505-07), William Archer, 1885-1924 (reference: Add Ms 45296), Lady Laura Aberconway (reference: Add Ms 52556), John Elliot Burns, 1890-1928 (reference: Add Ms 59784), Henry Havelock Ellis, 1888-1889 (reference: Add Ms 61891), Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson and family, 1903-1934 (reference: Add Ms 61998), Holbrook Jackson, 1906-1907 (reference: Add Ms 62992), Edward Reynolds Pease, 1890-1900 (reference: Add Ms 59784), the Society of Authors, 1909-1961 (reference: Add Mss 56627-637), Marie Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, 1916-1952 (reference: Add Ms 58493), and Dame (Alice) Ellen Terry, 1892-1922 (reference: Add Mss 43800-02, 46172g, Ms Facs 496); the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library, University of Texas at Austin, USA, has correspondence and papers, 1875-1950; Houghton Library, Harvard University, USA, contains correspondence, literary manuscripts and papers, 1887-1946; Cornell University Library, USA, holds papers and literary manuscripts, 1871-1904; Columbia University Library, USA, has correspondence and papers relating to Shaw's 'Political science in America' lecture, 1933-1940; the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, holds letters to Shaw's Aunt Georgina, 1893-1910 (reference: NLW Ms 18157E), and Thomas Jones, 1930-1943 (reference: Thomas Jones); Brynmor Jones Library, Hull University, has correspondence with R Page Arnot, 1941-1950 (reference: DAR/1/51) and J H Lloyd, 1944 (reference: 17); Reading University Library has correspondence with Viscountess Nancy Astor, 1928-1950 (reference: Ms 1416/1/4/90-95), and Kingsley Read, 1943-1950; Trinity College Dublin contains correspondence with Thomas Patrick Bodkin (reference: Mss 6910-7079) and Sir Almroth Edward Wright, 1938-1943 (reference: TCD Mss 9888); the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, holds letters to R&R Clark Ltd, 1905-1946; the University of Carolina, USA, has correspondence with Constable and Co, 1909-1950; the Elgar Birthplace Museum, Worcester, contains correspondence with Sir Edward Elgar and family, 1919-1942; Birmingham City Archives hold correspondence with Sir Barry Vincent Jackson, 1923-1950 (reference: Ms 2129); Cambridge University Library has letters to Lady Kathleen Kennet (reference: Kennet); King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge University, contains letters to John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, 1918-1946 (reference: JMK) and Gertrude Kingston; the Bodleian Library holds notes by Jack Walter Lambert on Shaw's plays (reference: Mss Eng c2345); the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London, has correspondence with Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, 1933-1944 (reference: Liddell Hart 1/632); the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland holds letters to Lady Edith Helen Londonderry, 1926-1944 (reference: D3099/3/16); the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge University, has letters to Dame Edith Lyttelton, 1909-1943 (reference: CHAN); the John Rylands University Library of Manchester contains letters to the Manchester Guardian, 1918-1936 (reference: Guardian Archives); Sussex University Library holds correspondence with Kingsley Martin, 1932-1950 (reference: SxMs 11); Stanbrook Abbey, Worcester, has letters to Dame Laurentia McLachlan, 1920-1949; the British Theatre Association Library, London, has correspondence with (George) Gilbert (Aimé) Murray, 1898-1950; University College London contains correspondence with Karl Pearson, 1890-1911 (reference: pp130, 140); the Plunkett Foundation for Cooperative Studies, Oxford, holds correspondence with Sir Horace Curzon Plunkett, 1909-1948 (reference: SHA); the BBC Written Archives Centre, Reading, has letters to John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith of Stonehaven, 1930-1948; the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, has correspondence with Dora Winifred Russell and Andreas Scheu, 1884-1904; Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies contains letters to St Albans Rural District Council, 1921-1922 (reference: Acc 3373); the House of Lords Record Office holds letters to Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel, 1909-1945 (reference: A/33,85,126,155/10-11); Edinburgh University Library has correspondence with Charles Sarolea, 1909-1925 (reference: Sar coll 34); the Theatre Museum, London, contains correspondence with Ernest Thesiger, 1924-1940, and general letters, 1890-1944; the McPherson library, University of Victoria, Australia, holds correspondence and literary manuscripts, 1887-1934; the Huntington Library, California, USA, has letters and literary manuscripts, 1889-1949; the National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, holds letters, literary manuscripts and rehearsal notes; Boston University Library, USA, has letters; Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre contains letters. Further papers are held at the New York Public Library, Colby College Library (Maine, USA), the Leo Baeck Institute (New York, USA), and the Free Library of Philadelphia (USA).

Publication note:

The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism George Bernard Shaw (Constable and Co, London, 1928).



Archivist's note: Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: May 2001

Indexing | Documentary analysis | Information processing

Personal names
Shaw | George Bernard | 1856-1950 | Irish dramatist, critic and novelist
White | Beatrice | fl 1939-1976 | Professor of English Literature

Corporate names