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 Shaw's Letters in Other People's Books: A Survey of the "Orphans"

Isidor Saslav  

Shaw's voluminous correspondence has been selectively collected (=never before published) and re-collected (=published somewhere else before) by Dan Laurence.  Works containing Shavian references and about Shaw have been  extensively listed by Laurence, Wearing, and Carpenter.  Interviews with and recollections of Shaw have been extensively reproduced by Gibbs.  Correspondence with particular individuals has been collected and re-collected by the University of Toronto and others. But, speaking only of Shaw letters as yet unre-collected/unre-published in any other source, yet to be exhaustively notated, catalogued, and/or reproduced are Shaw's letters published in books written by others, usually written to the author and published in the writer's autobiography or memoirs.  Sometimes the existence of such letters is referred to in the above sources but their re-collection and reproduction are largely absent.  Often the books in which these letters appear are not immediately recognizable as containing such letters.  

True, the difficulty of establishing a 100% accurate version of the original letter as received by the original recipient without going into the recipient's archives prevents these letters from being perfectly authenticatable in every detail.  Yet with this caveat to the reader a service would be performed for Shaw scholars and general readers by bringing these letters once more to scholastic/public view in a collected form.  The data I presented are found in my own Shaw collection and would serve as a starting point for others' research into this area.  Bringing such books and the story of these letters' recipients once more into public view would serve further to illuminate Shaw's interaction with the characters and events of his times.  

The paper as read and handed out discussed 26 books published between 1910 and 1953.  Each book contained anywhere from 1 to 42 published Shaw letters.  Many of these had never been re-collected into the standard collections such as the Laurence Collected Letters, Agitations, etc.  I termed these the "orphan letters" because they have all failed to find a new home collectively between the two covers of the same book.  My research will continue into the books published between 1953-2006 to find more "orphan" Shaw letters: published but widely scattered and never re-collected.

Examples: Mrs. T.P. O'Connor's memoirs, I, Myself, 1910 has two Shaw letters; the first one re-collected by Laurence, the second, the "orphan," never re-collected anywhere else. 

Engraver John Farleigh's memoirs, Graven Image, 1940 has 42 published Shaw letters.  Laurence re-collected 4, but left 38 "orphans" never re-collected. 

[24 further examples of books each containing a Shaw letter or letters never re-collected.]