AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

SHAW, George Bernard, 1856-1950: Business Papers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0097 SHAW
Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: SHAW, George Bernard, 1856-1950: Business Papers
Date(s): 1872-1950
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 22 boxes
Name of creator(s): Shaw | George Bernard | 1856-1950 | Irish dramatist, critic and novelist


Administrative/Biographical history:

George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin in 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; 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 women'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.


Scope and content/abstract:

Business papers of George Bernard Shaw, 1872-1950, mainly comprising correspondence, royalty details, contracts, copyright notices and other financial material, including papers relating to the performance of Shaw's plays in the UK and abroad by professional and amateur companies, 1896-1950; material concerning Shaw's dealings with literary agents, publishers, translators and various regulatory bodies, 1899-1950; printed blank contracts regulating the production and performance of Shaw's work in the UK and abroad, 1900-[1950]; correspondence, contracts, statements of royalties and other papers relating to the translation, publication and performance of Shaw's plays in countries other than the UK, 1907-1950; correspondence and bills of Messrs Leighton-Straker, bookbinders, 1911-1949, and Messrs R & R Clarke, printers, 1908-1949, including details of texts, numbers ordered and cost per unit; papers relating to dealings with Constable and Company Ltd, publishers, [1919]-1950; material relating to dealings with Messrs Brentano, US publishers, 1889-1946, notably royalty statements, accounts of sales, copyright agreements, and other material related to the publication of Shaw's plays and literary works in the USA; correspondence between Shaw and Paul Reynolds, his literary agent in the USA, 1907-1922, including details of payments made to Shaw for various articles, the serialisation of his plays in magazines, and copyright details; correspondence and papers concerning Shaw's dealings with literary agents in other European countries, [1903-1949], notably relating to the translation, publication and performance of his works; papers relating to litigation about copyright in the USA, 1927-1950; material relating to legal actions brought by Shaw against various unauthorised central European productions and publications, 1906-1910; correspondence relating to the adaptation and filming of Shaw's plays, 1913-[1950], including material concerning the development of the British and Irish film industries and the funding, marketing and distribution of films; correspondence concerning broadcasting rights, 1949-1950, mainly of Shaw's talks and adaptations of his plays; papers relating to the translation of Shaw's works, 1904-1949, into Russian, Czech, French, German and Polish; correspondence, receipts and contracts relating to Shaw's personal finances, 1872-1950, including details of his insurance policies and investments, property, income tax in the UK and USA, bank statements, royalty payments, and the disposal of the estate of Charlotte Shaw; papers relating to property owned by Shaw in Ireland and at Shaw's Corner, 1920-1949; material concerning dealings with J N Mason and Co, solicitors, 1891-1948, including the post-nuptial agreement made between Shaw and his wife; bills and letters relating to the purchase and hire of motor cars, 1900-1950; engagement diaries, 1877-1950; personal and domestic bills and receipts, 1872-1950, including hotel bills collected by Shaw during tours of the UK and Europe; notebooks and ledgers containing records of royalty payments, 1898-1950; copies of letters from Charlotte Shaw, 1899-1936, including letters to Alys Russell and Blanche Patch, with photographs of Charlotte's family and friends; material given to the Library by users of the Shaw papers, 1961-1970, notably copies of The California Shavian, 1961-1962.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, Pitman shorthand

System of arrangement:

Arranged in sections as outlined in the Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is held by the Society of Authors.

Finding aids:

Printed handlist and on-line catalogue available.

Archival Information

Archival history:

George Bernard Shaw bequeathed his literary and personal papers to the British Museum (now Department of Manuscripts, British Library), but he left his "Old Diaries account books Bank pass books paid cheques and their counterfoils expired agreements box office returns and other records of my business operations" to the British Library of Political and Economic Science, intending them to be used by "economic or legal historians or by biographers seeking documentary evidence as to prices and practices during the period covered by my lifetime". The collection was transferred from the British Museum to the British Library of Political and Economic Science in 1960. Further deposits were made by the Public Trustees in 1961 (business papers kept by Messrs Walter Smee and Co, accountants) and 1969 (further relevant material sorted by the British Museum). In 1973 Janet Dunbar gave the Library copies of letters from Charlotte Shaw and photographs of her family. The copies of The California Shavian were given by the Shaw Society of California in 1962. More domestic bills were added to the collection in 1998.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

The British Library of Political and Economic Science also holds Shaw's diaries (Ref: SR 0293) and a collection of photographs (Ref: Shaw Photographs). Further material relating to Shaw may be found in the papers of Sir Arthur Bowley (Ref: Coll Misc 0773), Labour Movement photographs (Coll Misc 0705), Professor William Alexander Robson (Coll Misc 0708), the Fabian Society (Ref: Fabian Society), Alfred George Gardiner (Ref: Gardiner), the Independent Labour Party (Ref: ILP), the London School of Economics and Political Science (Ref: LSE/Central Filing Registry), Beatrice and Sidney Webb (Ref: Passfield), the Royal Economic Society (Ref: RES), Professor Graham Wallas (Ref: Wallas), Leonard Henry Courtney (Ref: Courtney), Andrew Maclaren (Ref: Coll Misc 0550), and Herbert Morrison (Ref: Morrison). The Library also holds corrected essays from Fabian essays in socialism (Ref: Coll Misc 0360), comments by Shaw on resolutions for the Fabian Society's Transvaal meeting (Ref: Coll Misc 0485), and a typescript history of the Fabian Society by Edward Reynolds Pease, with corrections by Shaw and Webb (Ref: SR 1026).

The British Library, London, holds correspondence and papers (Ref: Add Mss 50508-743, 63179-187, 63728), and correspondence with Charlotte Shaw, 1896-1934 (Ref: Add Mss 46505-07), William Archer, 1885-1924 (Ref: Add Ms 45296), Lady Laura Aberconway (Ref: Add Ms 52556), John Elliot Burns, 1890-1928 (Ref: Add Ms 59784), Henry Havelock Ellis, 1888-1889 (Ref: Add Ms 61891), Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson and family, 1903-1934 (Ref: Add Ms 61998), Holbrook Jackson, 1906-1907 (Ref: Add Ms 62992), Edward Reynolds Pease, 1890-1900 (Ref: Add Ms 59784), the Society of Authors, 1909-1961 (Ref: Add Mss 56627-637), Marie Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, 1916-1952 (Ref: Add Ms 58493), and Dame (Alice) Ellen Terry, 1892-1922 (Ref: 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 (Ref: NLW Ms 18157E), and Thomas Jones, 1930-1943 (Ref: Thomas Jones); Brynmor Jones Library, Hull University, has correspondence with R Page Arnot, 1941-1950 (Ref: DAR/1/51) and J H Lloyd, 1944 (Ref: 17); Reading University Library has correspondence with Viscountess Nancy Astor, 1928-1950 (Ref: Ms 1416/1/4/90-95), and Kingsley Read, 1943-1950; Trinity College Dublin contains correspondence with Thomas Patrick Bodkin (Ref: Mss 6910-7079) and Sir Almroth Edward Wright, 1938-1943 (Ref: 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 (Ref: Ms 2129); Cambridge University Library has letters to Lady Kathleen Kennet (Ref: Kennet); King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge University, contains letters to John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, 1918-1946 (Ref: JMK) and Gertrude Kingston; the Bodleian Library holds notes by Jack Walter Lambert on Shaw's plays (Ref: Mss Eng c2345); the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London, has correspondence with Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, 1933-1944 (Ref: Liddell Hart 1/632); the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland holds letters to Lady Edith Helen Londonderry, 1926-1944 (Ref: D3099/3/16); the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge University, has letters to Dame Edith Lyttelton, 1909-1943 (Ref: CHAN); the John Rylands University Library of Manchester contains letters to the Manchester Guardian, 1918-1936 (Ref: Guardian Archives); Sussex University Library holds correspondence with Kingsley Martin, 1932-1950 (Ref: SxMs 11); Stanbrook Abbey, Worcester, has letters to Dame Laurentia McLachlan, 1920-1949; the British Theatre Association Library, London, has correspondence with (George) Gilbert (Aim) Murray, 1898-1950; University College London contains correspondence with Karl Pearson, 1890-1911 (Ref: pp130, 140); the Plunkett Foundation for Cooperative Studies, Oxford, holds correspondence with Sir Horace Curzon Plunkett, 1909-1948 (Ref: 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 (Ref: Acc 3373); the House of Lords Record Office holds letters to Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel, 1909-1945 (Ref: A/33,85,126,155/10-11); Edinburgh University Library has correspondence with Charles Sarolea, 1909-1925 (Ref: 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).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Arthur Ganz George Bernard Shaw (Macmillan, London, 1983).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Who's Who 1897-1996 (A & C Black, 1996); British Library On-Line Public Access Catalogue 97; Historical Manuscripts Commission National Register of Archives. Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Mar 2001

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"