SHAW (GEORGE BERNARD)
Lot 174
SHAW (GEORGE BERNARD)
Sold for £4,800 (US$ 7,704) inc. premium

Lot Details
LATER NINETEENTH AND TWENTIETH CENTURY
SHAW (GEORGE BERNARD)
Collection of papers and printed ephemera formed by Dr F.E. Loewenstein, bibliographer and founder of the Shaw Society, much deriving from Shaw’s own archive (the surviving portion of which was to be bequeathed to the British Museum Library), comprising:

(i) Correspondence relating to the publication of Shaw’s novel An Unsocial Socialist (1887), comprising four letters and two statements to Shaw from the book’s publisher Swan Sonnenschein & Co, discussing printing (“…We shall be sending to press ‘An Unsocial Socialist’ at once, & proofs will be reaching you immediately. The most suitable time for issuing the book will, we think, be in January next, but this will depend to a large extent upon the then state of the trade…”), binding (“…Your book is now in the binder’s hands, and we expect copies in a day or two…”) and promotion (“…Will you kindly forward us the announcements which you would wish inserted in the literary columns of the principal papers?...”), followed by two royalty statements; the series rounded-off by an apologetic letter from William Swan Sonnenschein himself (“…Dear Shaw,/ I am sure I am more sorry than you at the want of our success with ‘Unsocial Socialist’. You are wrong in thinking that we have not done our best for it. Perhaps the price was wrong, since Walter Scott appears to have done well with ‘Cashel Byron’ at 1/-; but I can assure you that the book has not remained unsold for want of being offered… Nothing would give us greater pleasure than to know that the book had made some success. It is a good novel; & deserves to succeed…”); one letter with Shaw’s autograph reply in Pitman shorthand (with some proper names en clair) on the reverse, suggesting specific literary personalities and publications to whom advance copies should be sent, including Robert Louis Stevenson (“…I have a very enthusiastic admirer on the staff of the Whitehall Review, but I do not know whether his criticisms circulate much. The sooner the Pall Mall has their copy, the better. The World, The Stage and Vanity Fair ought also to pay me some attention but I am afraid […] will make them change their tune. I am told that a copy to R.L. Stevenson would be worth sending, but I do not know him personally…”), with envelopes docketed by Shaw, some with notes of replies, 1885-1890

(ii) Collection of printed and manuscript material relating to politics and the Fabian Society, evidently also deriving all or in part from Shaw’s own papers, including: an autograph pencil draft written on, and incorporating, a printed resolution in which the workers of London protest against the arbitrary action of the police in suppressing open-air speaking in public places, subscribed by Shaw (in what seems a slightly later hand) “The Dod St Resolution” (1885); autograph letters by R. Page Arnot (acknowledging Shaw’s resignation from the Labour Research Department and its Executive Committee), Bernard Rickett (to Shaw and Geary styling himself a progressive Roman Catholic ), J.F. Oakshott (to Loewenstein, discussing the Fabian Society and Shaviana), Charlotte Shaw, and others; Fabian Tracts, Nos.1, 7, 10 and 146; Fabian Society publications including a heavily revised proof of a list of publications for 1900; galleys for the ‘Draft Statement of Principles’ (20 May 1887), for an address to fellow Fabians from the Executive Committee offering themselves for re-election in 1907-8, and; corrected galleys of The Inefficiency of Strikes and Fiscal Policy; The Insurance Bill and the Workers (1911) by Alfred Wallace, and the Report and Resolution of the Special Committee appointed to consider Socialist Representation in Parliament (1907); a confidential proof of ‘The Fabian Election Manifesto’ [of 1886], calling for the establishment of a Labour Party; plus other printed manifestos, prospectuses and rules of both the Society and the London School of Economics (1906); proposal in duplicate for a Socialist Alliance, issued by the Hammersmith Socialist Society, Kelmscott House, Hammersmith, 27 January 1893; galley proof of Shaw’s article on his retirement from the executive committee; a typed letter to Shaw with a list of Fabian publications headed by him “Dr Loewenstein’s List 1942”, etc.

(iii) File of papers relating to H.G. Wells and his dispute with the Fabian Society, including a letter signed to the Secretary Haden Guest, about the committee of enquiry (1906) and a letter signed to Edwards with subjoined petition urging political neutrality; galley proof and paste-up of Wells’s Reconstruction of the Fabian Society (the latter dated December 1906); galleys of ‘Report to the Executive Committee’ (expressing considerable irritation with Wells); a telegram from Wells to Guest (“Please make official contradiction in cold dignified terms…”); letters by Mrs Wells and others, and other printed ephemera

(iv) Four autograph letters by Shaw to Edward Pease, Secretary of the Fabian Society, recommending candidates (“…a crank of the first water, but a smart, intelligent crank who will not make a fool of himself or of the Society…”) and discussing Society business (1894-1910); together with a group of autograph cards to, or about, officers of the Society

(v) Other papers relating to Shaw’s literary and political career, garnered by Loewenstein, including a printed card announcing a performance of Il Don Giovanni by The Troubadours at the Opera Comique, with Mrs Carr Shaw playing Donna Anna and conducted by Vandeleur [sic] Lee (17 July 1878); a letter to “— Shaw Esq.re” from [his singing pupil] Agnes Consuelo, docketed by him “With a box of silk handkerchiefs, which I returned”; an autograph note by Shaw on LCC polls; an autograph card by Shaw to Lowenstein about the sale of his letters (1943); a note of royalties received from performances of Blanco Posnet in America, subscribed by Shaw: “Cheque for £105-17-10 sent to Lady Gregory 18/6/02, in fulfilment of my promise to return these royalties to the Irish Theatre”; a six-page sheaf of notes by Shaw, possibly for a speech, beginning “1. Class snobbery – Sinclair-Cox./ Who cares for children between the standard & their majority…”; a note by Shaw on copyright; autograph shorthand fragments by Shaw, one headed in red ink “ – Codicil – Fair copy green & yellow”; autograph shorthand drafts of two letters of 1884; two sheets of autograph pencil notes on photographs taken by Shaw, with details of subjects, exposures, roll numbers, etc (6-7 January 1903); a letter to “J.B. Shaw Esq.re” from E.[?] Halford, with an envelope postmarked 30 September 1880 which Shaw has used for what appear to be reading notes; letter to Shaw by the historian Henry Morse Stephens, when at Cornell, asking permission for his students to stage The Man of Destiny, envelope docketed by Shaw “Wrote consenting 17/5/1900”; letter to Shaw by Elisabeth Marbury, asking permission for a performance of Candida in New York, envelope docketed by Shaw with his reply (28 November 1899); card of friendship and admiration to Shaw by the German critic Alfred Kerr (1944); sheaf of notes by Loewenstein on Elinor Huddart and her letters to Shaw, with a note to him by Shaw (“…There are no facts to ‘unearth’. Elinor Huddart wrote novels and published them at her own expense… When I lived in Osnaburgh St & Fitzroy Square in the 1880ties we corresponded… She was an attractive baffled novelist…”); The R.A.D.A Graduates’ Keepsake & Counsellor, inscribed to Loewenstein by Shaw as “Author of the first 22 pages” (1944); Two letters to Loewenstein by E.G. Millar of the British Museum Department of Manuscripts (“…I must apologise for the delay in answering… which was partly due to our moving our rooms downstairs to the basement to avoid being disturbed by these flying bombs…”), discussing the draft of Saint Joan at the British Museum Library (1944); letter to Loewenstein by G.H. Bushnell of St Andrew’s Library about a gift from Shaw, with a note by the latter expressing his surprise that he had given them anything (1945); a list of political expenses with Geary’s portion calculated by Shaw (25 March 1904), etc.

(vi) Collection of theatrical ephemera, including display cards etc. for Man & Superman, Back to Methuselah, Pygmalion, Great Catherine, The Applecart, and Androcles and the Lion, a programme for the Glastonbury Festival of 1916 staging ‘The Glastonbury Travesty’ by Austin and ‘Walter Wombwell’ (who is identified by Loewenstein as Shaw and the programme as of the greatest rarity), etc; plus a collection of programmes, including those for the first performances of Caesar and Cleopatra (15 March 1899), Mrs Warren’s Profession (5 January 1902), The Dark Lady of the Sonnets (24 November 1910)

(vii) Loewenstein’s revised and pasted-up typescript of his “Shaviana”, describing Shaw’s early life, especially his career with the Edison Telephone Company and its aftermath, with some corrections entered by Shaw (adding for example the name ‘Vandaleur’ [sic] and profession of ‘Conductor’ to the description of his putative father), marked by Loewenstein in red crayon for Shaw’s attention (“Kindly vet. and pass”) and dated 27 November 1944, some 15 leaves, folio and smaller

Footnotes

  • MATERIAL COLLECTED BY BERNARD SHAW’S ‘AUTHORISED BIBLIOGRAPHER AND REMEMBRANCER’, DR F.E. LOEWENTSTEIN, MUCH OF WHICH DERIVES FROM SHAW’S OWN PAPERS. The present group of papers (which we have attempted to reassemble from disparate lots) was we believe sold by Loewenstein’s widow at Sotheby’s in the early 1970s. Dan H. Laurence gives an account of how Loewenstein came by them: “At the start of the war Loewenstein was interned on the Isle of Man as an enemy alien… A twice-married man with three children to support, he was desperate for money. Parading his circumstances before Shaw, he assured GBS that he did not intend to beg or borrow money, though he was not above ‘borrowing books’ (an ironic phrase in view of later circumstances) for the preparation of his bibliography. Shaw, unaware that Loewenstein had unguardedly informed Blanche Patch at their initial meeting that he had ‘as many tricks as a monkey’ when he wanted to get his way, succumbed to the refugee’s blandishments, inviting him to Ayot and giving him carte blanche to examine all the contents of all the file boxes and storage cupboards. Immediately, Loewenstein gained a foothold at Ayot, was appointed Shaw’s ‘authorised bibliographer and remembrancer’ (with delusions of becoming a latter-day Boswell), and was given an upstairs sitting room for working space. With a servility and unction that Uriah Heep might have envied, dubbing Shaw ‘The Master,’ Loewenstein quietly and efficiently went about the business of raiding for his own collection (sold in 1953 and now housed in American university libraries) the filed and shelved Shaviana he was being paid to catalogue for his bibliography and for Shaw’s testamentary gift to British libraries… With the passing years Loewenstein grew increasingly bloated with a sense of his own importance, conjuring up publishing projects and self-aggrandising publicity stories, boasting that he eventually would take possession of the ‘Shaw Shrine’ at Ayot as its curator. To his dismay, the post went to [Shaw’s housekeeper] Alice Laden after the Public Trustee, on the day of Shaw’s death, quietly ordered that he remove himself immediately from the house and not return” (Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters 1926-1950, 1988, pp.693 & 695).

    Included in the collection is at least one Shavian ‘black tulip’, namely the third edition of Fabian Tracts, No.1 (‘Why Are the Many Poor?’). Ours is the copy Dan H. Laurence used for his bibliography and the only one he had until then come across. He wrote to Sharp: “The xerox copy of Fabian Tract No.1 was a very pleasant surprise, and I am most grateful to you for your thoughtfulness. The importance of this Third Edition is that it was the first issue of the text as revised by Shaw in 1889. The tract was originally drafted in 1884… Then the Fabians decided to polish and improve the text, and the job was undertaken by Shaw. My job, for the bibliography, was to find and describe a copy of this first Shaw-involved edition, and until your copy turned up at Sotheby’s I had been unable (in 18 years) to turn up a single copy of the Third Edition. Thanks to you, the listing will now be complete and accurate” (letter of 25 January 1974).

    It was no doubt Loewenstein’s instincts as bibliographer that drew him to the correspondence between Shaw and his publisher for An Unsocial Socialist. This was Shaw’s fifth and final novel, published in 1887 before Shaw embarked on his career as critic and journalist: “Intended as ‘a gigantic grapple with the whole social problem’…it broke down under the weight of its incongruities, which included a runaway husband, a finishing school for girls, and ponderous paraphrases from Marx's Capital, among sparkling passages of Shavian dialogue that foreshadowed his later work. Sidney Trefusis, the socialist agitator as handsome hero, is a prototype of John Tanner of Man and Superman” (Stanley Weintraub, ODNB). It was not to be until 1892 that his first play, Widowers’ House, was launched amid finely-calculated scandal. The material squirreled away by Loewenstein relating to Shaw’s subsequent theatrical career is less substantial, but does include some particularly attractive pieces of advertising ephemera, which appear to have derived from Shaw himself rather than having been acquired by Loewenstein through purchase: one of the most striking pieces, the card of a girl hatching from an egg, advertising Back to Methuselah, being addressed to Shaw at Adelphi Terrace’; while the cut-out of Shaw and his apple cart appears to be a Queen’s Theatre in-house display item.

    This fragmentary archive also contains some intriguing archival shards from Shaw’s early life, such as the letter by Agnes Consuelo, the young lady who had come to the Shaws’ house for singing lessons by his mother but had been taken on by GBS instead. This, while displaying happy ignorance of either his Christian names or soon-to-be-famous initials, encloses a set of silk handkerchiefs, which the abashed – or indignant – Shaw returned (a fact noted both on the letter itself and in his diary on 15 September 1885). Perhaps most evocative of all is the mantelpiece card advertising a concert performance to be given by his mother with his putative father George John ‘Vandeleur’ Lee; something which finds an echo in Loewenstein’s ‘Shaviana’, where Shaw insists that Lee is styled as being a ‘Conductor’, and inserts the adopted name (which, however, he spells ‘Vandaleur’ rather than ‘Vandeleur’).

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