Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris & Oscar Wilde

By Robert Harborough Sherard | Go to book overview

XX
A FACER FOR SHAW

"THE evil that men do lives after them." Harris has left behind him a store of mendacious facts from which successive biographers have gleefully helped themselves and will continue to do so until the noisome emporium is razed to the ground and its contents reduced to malodorous ashes.

In a recent biography, for instance, there occurs the following slanderous statement:

He wanted more and more money. . . He even resorted to dishonesty in order to come by money. He made the scenario for a play and sold the exclusive rights to four or five people. The inventor of this cruel lie was Frank Harris—true to his tactics of defaming his victims so as to discredit any subsequent charges they might make against him.It was substantiated by George Bernard Shaw in the letter which he wrote to Harris in praise of his infamous book, and which Harris so skilfully used to advance his sales in the States.

How great Shaw's mansuetude and tolerance towards Harris's publishing manoeuvres has been, is shown by the fact that a special edition of his Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions was issued with George Bernard Shaw's name on the title-page as its sole author, so that purchasers were induced to believe that they were buying a book on Wilde by Shaw. When this was pointed out by Lord Alfred Douglas to George Bernard Shaw, the latter smilingly replied: "Frankie would have nothing to do with that.That would be some Yankee publisher's trick." Unfortunately, Frankie was here not only author but publisher.

-279-

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