Collecting a figure such as George Bernard Shaw should be, and is, a delight which shouldn’t be relegated to the realms of the Ibsenians or Shaw admirers! George Bernard Shaw was what, we could surely only describe as irascible. His plays were written as satire, packed with sharp observations of contemporary culture and not-so-veiled barbs against leading figures of his day. His polemics had an exquisite turn of phrase, and the wealth of letters, memos, and short works contain within them a mountain of laugh-out-loud (or cry) observations, phrases, and reflections.
One of the irreducible joys of collecting Shaw are the personal annotations that the great playwright sought to put into his first limited edition pieces. “This is a prosaically correct copy, as may be seen by the line I have underscored on the title page. If only that line were ridiculously wrong this would be a collector’s treasure. As it is I can only certify it as undistinguished. G. Bernard Shaw. 27/7/30” reads an inscription on his 1887 London: Swann, The Unsocial Socialist. Or consider Cashel Byron’s Profession (1886) reading “This is the first Issue, which was so tall that the booksellers refused to exhibit it on their counters, as it took too much room. So it had to be cut down. G. Bernard Shaw 26/7/30.”
George Bernard Shaw, as you can see, is a treasure to collect purely because of his eccentricity – and his understanding of how printing and collecting works. He had a wide circle of friends (or rather; enemies whom he adored perhaps) and delighted in being to gift them all with personalized copies of his works – whether they appreciated it or not sometimes!
One particular favorite to look out for is perhaps a little disrespectful to include here, but it is too good not to. On Going To Church was pirated (an un-authorized printing of the work) by none other than Elbert Hubbard, founder of the Roycroft movement within the Arts and Crafts movement that swept through Britain. The pirated 1896 first edition was much later found and inscribed by Shaw with "I repudiate all responsibility for this bowdlerised piracy. Elbert Hubbard, who perpetrated it, is dead. Why not bury it with him? G. Bernard Shaw. 27/5/22”
Shaw, George Bernard. Unsocial Socialist. Swan Sonnenschein, Lowrey, London (1887). first issue, with The Confessions of Byron Cashel's Profession printed on the title page; 244 copies.
Shaw, George Bernard. Fabian Essays in Socialism. Fabian Society, London (1889). WEBB, Sidney, BESANT, Annie, WALLAS, Graham; Thefrontispiece and cover design by Walter Crane
Shaw, George Bernard. WIDOWERS¿ HOUSES. Henry and Co., London (1893). 500 copies printed; 4 volumes.
Shaw, George Bernard. Socialism. Charles E. Brown and Co., Boston, (1894). The Fabian Essays by G. Bernard Shaw, Sidney Webb, William Clarke, Sydney Olivier, Annie Besant, Graham Wallas and Hubert Bland edited by with an essay on The Fabian Society and Its Work by William Clark and An Introduction to this American edition by Edward Bellamy, author of Looking Backward
Shaw, George Bernard. Plays. Grant Richards, London (1898). Pleasant and Unpleasant; 2 volumes; 1240 copies printed; Illustrated with a frontispiece photogravure of Shaw by Frederick Evans.
Shaw, George Bernard. FABIANISM AND THE EMPIRE. Grant Richards, London (1900). A MANIFESTO BY THE FABIAN SOCIETY; 4000 copies printed.
Shaw, George Bernard. Man and Superman. Archibald Constable and Co., Westminster (1903). A Comedy and a Philosophy.
Shaw, George Bernard. The Irrational Knot. Brentano's, New York (1905). Being the Second Novel of His Nonage
Shaw, George Bernard. John Bull's Other Island and Major Barbara. Archibald Constable and Co Ltd, London (1907). also How He Lied to Her Husband; 5000 copies printed
Shaw, George Bernard. The Sanity of Art. The New Age Press, London (1908). An Exposure of the Current Nonsense About Artists Being Degenerate
Shaw, George Bernard. Press Cuttings. Brentano's, New York (1909). A Topical Sketch; 50 copies printed.
Shaw, George Bernard. Press Cuttings. Archibald Constable and Co, London (1909). a Topical Sketch compiled from the editorial and correspondence columns of the Daily Papers as performed by the Civic and Dramatic Guild at the Royal Court Theatre, London; 4 vols; In variant wrappers: (1) pink, with Price One Shilling on upper cover (400 copies); (2) pink, Price One Shilling. / Net. (100 copies); (3) pink, with Price One Shilling net. (1500 copies); and (4) grey, with Price One Shilling net. (2000 copies)
Shaw, George Bernard. SOCIALISM AND SUPERIOR BRAINS. A. C. Fifield, London (1910). A REPLY TO MR. MALLOCK
Shaw, George Bernard. The Doctor's Dilemma. Constable and Co. Ltd., London (1911). Getting Married; the Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet; Three plays in one volume.
Shaw, George Bernard. MISALLIANCE. Constable and Company, London (1914). The dark lady of the sonnets, and Fanny's first play; With a treatise on parents and children.
Shaw, George Bernard. Pygmalion. Everybody's Magazine, London (1914). A ROMANCE IN FIVE ACTS, ANDROCLES AND THE LION, AND PASSION POISON AND PETRIFICATION A TRAGEDY (THREE PLAYS BOUND AS ONE); with illustrations by May Wilson Preston
Shaw, George Bernard. Androcles and the Lion. Brentanos (1916). Overruled - Pygmalion.
Shaw, George Bernard. AUGUSTUS DOES HIS BIT. H. and H. Clark, Edinburgh (1916). an Unofficial Dramatic Tract on War Saving and Cognate Topics; 100 copies printed.
Shaw, George Bernard. Pygmalion. Constable and Company, London (1918). a Play in Five Acts: by a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Shaw, George Bernard. Heartbreak House. Constable and Company, London (1919). Great Catherine, and Playlets of the War (O'Flaherty, V.C.; The Inca of Perusalem; Augustus Does His Bit; Annajanska)
Shaw, George Bernard. Back To Methuselah. Brentano's, New York (1921). A Metabiological Pentateuch
Shaw, George Bernard. Back to Methuseleh. Constable and Company, London (1921). A Metabiological Pentateuch
Shaw, George Bernard. Saint Joan. Constable and Company , London (1924). A Chronicle Play in Six Scenes and an Epilogue; with 16 tipped-in plates (12 coloured) by Ricketts; 750 copies printed.
Shaw, George Bernard. Translations and Tomfooleries. Constable and Company , London (1926). Jitta's Atonement [By Siegfried Trebitsch, Translated by Shaw]; Trifles and Tomfooleries: the Admirable Bashville; or Constancy Unrewarded; Press Cuttings; the Glimpse of Reality
Shaw, George Bernard. Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism. Constable and Company, London (1928). with were for was on page 442, line 5
Shaw, George Bernard. Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism. Brentano's Publishers, New York (1928). with colour illustration to front panel specially designed by Eric Kennington
Shaw, George Bernard. The Apple Cart. Constable and Company , London (1930). A Political Extravaganza
Shaw, George Bernard. Collected Works of George Bernard Shaw. WM. H. Wise and Co., New York (1930). 1790 copies printed; Complete set in 30 volumes; Titles: IMMATURITY / THE IRRATIONAL KNOT / LOVE AMONG THE ARTISTS / CASHEL BYRON'S PROFESSION / AN UNSOCIAL SOCIALIST / SHORT STORIES, SCRAPS and SHAVINGS / PLAYS PLEASANT AND UNPLEASANT (in two volumes) / THREE PLAYS FOR PURITANS / MAN AND SUPERMAN / JOHN BULL'S OTHER ISLAND, HOW HE LIED TO HER HUSBAND, MAJOR BARBARA / THE DOCTOR'S DILEMMA, GETTING MARRIED, THE SHEWING-UP OF BLANCO POSNET / MISALLIANCE, THE DARK LADY OF THE SONNETS, FANNY'S FIRST PLAY / ANDROCLES AND THE LION, OVERRULED, PYGMALION / HEARTBREAK HOUSE, GREAT CATHERINE, PLAYLETS OF THE WAR / BACK TO METHUSELAH / SAINT JOAN, THE APPLE CART / TRANSLATIONS AND TOMFOOLERIES / THE QUINTESSENCE OF IBSENISM, THE PERFECT WAGNERITE, THE SANITY OF ART / THE INTELLIGENT WOMAN'S GUIDE TO SOCIALISM AND CAPITALISM / WHAT I REALLY WROTE ABOUT THE WAR / DOCTORS' DELUSIONS, CRUDE CRIMINOLOGY, SHAM EDUCATION / OUR THEATRES IN THE NINETIES (in three volumes) / MUSIC IN LONDON (in three volumes) / PEN PORTRAITS AND REVIEWS / ESSAYS IN FABIAN SOCIALISM.
Shaw, George Bernard. Works. Constable and Co Ltd, london (1930). 33 volumes; 1025 copies printed.
Shaw, George Bernard. Complete Plays. Constable and Co Ltd, London (1931). [and] Prefaces; 2 volumes.
Shaw, George Bernard. The Adventures of The Black Girl in Her Search for God. Constable and Company Limited, London (1932). Pictorial boards and twenty woodblock illustrations within by John Farleigh
Shaw, George Bernard. Collected Works of George Bernard Shaw. William Wise and Company, New York (1932). 1790 copies; 30 volumes; 2 bookplates, La Fayette Butlere and David Bruce Colen (by Rockwell Kent)
Shaw, George Bernard. Works of Bernard Shaw. CONSTABLE and COMPANY LTD, LONDON (1932). Thirty Volumes; 1000 copies.
Shaw, George Bernard. Adventures of The Black Girl In Her Search for God. Dodd, Mead and Company, New York (1933). Designed and engraved by John Farleigh
Shaw, George Bernard. Complete Plays. Constable and Company Limited, London (1934). together with Prefaces; Including Pygmalion Man and Superman, Saint Joan, and The Apple Cart; 2 volumes.
Shaw, George Bernard. Too True to be Good. Constable and Company , London (1934). Village Wooing; on the Rocks; Three plays in one volume
Shaw, George Bernard. Shaw gives himself away. Gregynog Press, Newtown, Montgomeryshire (1939). Wood-engraved portrait frontispiece by John Farleigh; 300 copies.
Shaw, George Bernard. Man and Superman. Dodd, Mead, New York (1947). with photographs from Maurice Evan's production.
Shaw, George Bernard. Sixteen Self Sketches. Constable and Company , London (1949). Wood-engraved frontispiece portrait after M. Pikov
Shaw, George Bernard. Bernard Shaw. Dodd, Mead and Company, New York (1963). Complete Plays with Prefaces, (6 Volume Set)
Shaw, George Bernard. Passion Play. Windhover Press, Iowa (1971). A Dramatic Fragment; 350 copies; With an introduction about Shaw and his relationship to Christianity by Jerald E. Bringle
Shaw, George Bernard. Shaw on Women. Bucknell University, Lewisburg and The Press of the Appletree Alley (1992). Stratton, Mary Chenoweth. Ed; Foreword by Margot Peters, wood engravings by Linda Holmes; 150 copies.