Friday 28 February 2014

An Irishman's Diary: George Bernard Shaw blows his horn


An Irishman's Diary: George Bernard Shaw blows his horn 

The discovery of a previously unpublished letter can often be interesting in and of itself but when the letter-writer is one of Ireland's greatest ever playwrights the find is even more remarkable.

George Bernard Shaw was, as the accompanying article makes clear, a prolific writer of letters as well as plays, novels and critiques etc.  As a result many of his epistles grace museums and collections around the world but surprisingly few give an insight into his daily life, most being about his work and writings.

This is one of the rarer ones, then, a classically scathing Shavian criticism of his then-new motor car dating from January 1909.  Shaw's ready wit and way with words make his works a joy to read and his personal correspondence is no different!  He was an early convert to the motorised carriage and despite it still being in its infancy he obviously thought his De Dietrich model should have been further down the development path than it was.  One wonders if the company's fortunes (and those of coachbuilders Todd & Wright) suffered at all through this celebrity disapproval!

As mentioned this quite an unusual find although not unique, with several other examples of missives from Shaw floating around the Internet.  The wonderful blog Letters Of Note has four such examples, including another absolutely brilliant letter that Shaw wrote to The Times newspaper in July 1905 regarding a fellow opera-goer. 

I've always felt that private letters give a fascinating insight into the mind of the writer and Bernard Shaw is no exception, with the added bonus of a good chuckle or three as well.  Since his letters are so witty and sharp I think it's about time I reacquainted myself with some of his equally entertaining professional works.  I hope whoever ends up buying this newly-unearthed letter appreciates its historic value and the great humorous mind from which it sprang.

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