George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century

By Archibald Henderson | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER 12
The Shelley and Shakespeare Societies

THE SHELLEY SOCIETY, ORGANIZED BY FREDERICK JAMES FURNIVALL, HELD ITS inaugural meeting at University College on March 10, 1886.Along with his passion for founding literary societies for the purpose of establishing the fame of great English poets upon a permanent basis, Furnivall was intent upon widening the knowledge of the English language and literature, which at that period was amazingly chaotic and inadequate. He joined the Philological Society in 1847, founded the enormously influential Early English Text Society in 1864, was primarily instrumental in founding the Ballad Society in 1868, founded the New Shakespeare Society in 1875, the Browning Society in 1881, and the Shelley Society in 1886.1 The visits of Shelley to Furnivall's early home at Egham, and the fact that his father was Mrs. Shelley's physician, strongly influenced him in founding the Shelley Society. He carried on and directed for many years the pioneer work for the New English Dictionary; and W. W. Skeat says that Furnivall's share in that work was "even of superior importance to that of the editor [Sir James A. H. Murray], who reaped where Furnivall had sown."2Furnivall, a barrister, was neither a philologist nor a competent literary critic, and was unbridled in his criticism and denunciation of students and scholars who disagreed with him. But he was a tireless worker, a mighty enthusiast, and a doughty champion of English language and literature.

Shaw attended as a visitor the first regular meeting of the Shelley Society on April 14, 1886. Following H. Buxton Forman's address on "The Vicissitudes of Queen Mab," Shaw rose and commented that he "regarded Queen Mab as a work far superior to The Cenci, which he considered antiquated. Queen Mab was a perfectly original poem on a great subject. Throughout the whole poem Shelley showed a remarkable grasp of facts, anticipating also the modern view that sociological problems are being worked out independ

____________________
1
It seems that Furnivall decided upon the founding of a Shelley Society shortly after the inauguration of the Browning Society on October 28, 1881. He records in his diary for 1881: "I resolved to found the Shelley Society--on the hill between Hendon and Hampstead--on Sunday, December 6, about 1:50 P.M." It was not founded until five years later. Furnivall also founded the Chaucer and the Wyclif Societies. He was one of the founders of the Working Men's College.
2
Frederick James Furnivall: A Volume of Personal Record, with a biography by John Munro ( Oxford University Press, 1911).

-147-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 978

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?