PREFACE

THE first ten chapters of this book deal mainly with the difficulties I experienced while writing my Life of Bernard Shaw. They describe my talks with him, my successful attempts to extort intimate con fessions from him, our constant disagreements, his outbursts over some of my inferences, and his repudiations of many stories that have grown up around his personality. This early portion, therefore, concerns the years 1939-40, when, with his active assistance, I was busy painting his portrait; and though every conversation was written down soon after it took place, these ten chapters were composed early in 1941 at the conclusion of my labors on his biography, a few passages being added to chapter 10, "A Shavian Production," following the death of Granville- Barker.

Chapters 11 to 23 describe Shaw's life from the date reached in my biography to the end of his career. They are thus a postscript to that biography, which told his story up to the end of 1939 and was published in 1942. During those last years I was in frequent touch with him, and always knew what he was doing. Our arguments on all sorts of subjects, from Shakespeare to Stalin, were noted down by me immediately after their occurrence, and this part of the book contains verbatim records of our more notable encounters. He also remembered things about his past which had escaped his memory while I was writing his Life, and so I have been able to provide many fresh sidelights on himself and his contemporaries.

My readers will be as grateful as I am for Miss Eleanor O'Connell's remarkable account of Shaw's behavior and conversation on the day of his wife's death, and for her reports of his references to Charlotte Shaw in the ensuing months. Considering the extraordinary nature of my protagonist, I do not think there is anything more interesting and revealing in biographical literature than Eleanor O'Connell's contributions to the present work, which were written and sent to me within a few hours of the events and sayings recorded.

The remaining chapters of the book consist of three pieces on Shaw the man, the playwright, and the reformer; a brief introduction to the first of his writings that appeared in print; and an obituary notice which I wrote for a leading London newspaper.

-ix-

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G. B. S.: A Postscript
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • By the Same Author: *
  • Title Page iii
  • To Eleanor O'Connell v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Trials of a Biographer 1
  • I. a Back Number 3
  • 3. the Mythical G.B.S. 5
  • 4. Lies and Libels 8
  • 5. No Laughing Matter 13
  • 6. Sexless Appeal 21
  • 10. a Shavian Production 45
  • A Postscript 59
  • 11. Shaw Criticizes His Biographer 61
  • 13. Stella and Isadora 73
  • 15. a New Alphabet 75
  • 16. Playwright or Propagandist? 79
  • 17. Shaw Dictates His Obituary 84
  • 18. Pilgrims at Ayot 86
  • 9 Three Score Years and Thirty 88
  • 20. a Bardic Battle 90
  • 23. Bewitched 103
  • Aspects of Shaw 117
  • 24. the Man 119
  • 26. the Reformer 122
  • 27. His First Appearance 125
  • 28. an Obituary 127
  • 29. the Modern Methuselah 133
  • Index 135
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