SHAW (GEORGE BERNARD) Man and Superman. A Comedy and a Philosophy, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO VIOLET VANBRUGH, Archibald Constable, 1903
Lot 184
SHAW (GEORGE BERNARD)
Man and Superman. A Comedy and a Philosophy, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO VIOLET VANBRUGH, Archibald Constable, 1903
Sold for £750 (US$ 1,171) inc. premium

Lot Details
The Property of a Collector
SHAW (GEORGE BERNARD)
Man and Superman. A Comedy and a Philosophy, FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO VIOLET VANBRUGH, inscribed on the half-title "to Violet Vanbrugh from G. Bernard Shaw Christmas 1903", with a gelatin silver print portrait (possibly a self portrait) of the author (83 x 40mm.) pasted alongside, and a 2-PAGE AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED (Maybury Knoll, Woking, 28 December 1903) tipped-in on circular tabs (now loose), publisher's green cloth, rubbed, preserved in cloth chemise and purpose-made morocco-backed slipcase, 8vo, Archibald Constable, 1903

Footnotes

  • A FINE PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed to the actress Violet Vanbrugh with an accompanying autograph letter addressed to her under her married name of Mrs. Bourchier. Vanbrugh (1867-1942) made her debut on the London stage in 1886, and established her reputation playing the role of Ann Boleyn in Henry Irving's production of King Henry VIII in 1892. Shaw writes "You will find somewhere in the book I am sending you ("Man & Superman") a play. Will you... read that play, or as much of it as you can bear", mentioning that the Stage Society wants to perform the play, and discussing various proposals for cuts in order to arrive at "an acting version... reasonable in length, and endurable in dramatic quality. BUT - where is my heroine to come from?... where is the person who can be this cat, this liar, this minx, this "something for which I know no polite name"... and yet be perfectly irresistable and perfectly dignified?". After further elaboration on the qualities required of the major role of Ann, Shaw asks Vanbrugh if she would agree to play the part for "If you wont, I am greatly afraid there will be no performance... you are a very difficult person to fit; and it follows that what fits you doesnt fit anybody else". He follows with a description of the Stage Society, playing for which "is a labor of love" resulting in numerous difficulties brought about by being homeless and poor, the actors each presented "with two guineas each for 'expenses'. I think Henrietta Watson once got a muslin skirt as well...". Shaw's attempt to persuade Vanbrugh to act the role failed, and the first production of Man and Superman opened at The Royal Court Theatre, London on 23 May 1905. In 1938 Vanbrugh did appear in the film version of Pygmalion, suggesting that Shaw's respect for her remained.
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