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Shaw tests the ice

Ronald Bryden, 18 December 1986

Bernard ShawThe Diaries 1885-1897 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 1241 pp., £65, September 1986, 0 571 13901 9
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... In his last will, made the year before he died, Shaw let his modesty hang out for once. He left his diaries, with his account books, cheque stubs, box-office statements and business records, to the London School of Economics. Their only interest, he said, would be to economic and legal historians, and occasional biographers, ‘seeking documentary evidence as to prices and practices during the period covered by my lifetime ...

Blood Running Down

Helen Cooper: Iconoclasm and theatre in early modern England, 9 August 2001

The Idolatrous Eye: Iconoclasm and Theatre in Early Modern England 
by Michael O'Connell.
Oxford, 198 pp., £30, February 2000, 9780195132052
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... In 1644, the Puritan cleric John Shaw journeyed up to Westmorland to instruct the local people, who, he had been told, were sadly lacking in knowledge of the Bible. The need was confirmed when he interrogated an old man whose long life in the wake of the Reformation seemed to have left him entirely ignorant of all matters theological and ecclesiastical ...

Ticket to Milford Haven

David Edgar: Shaw’s Surprises, 21 September 2006

Bernard ShawA Life 
by A.M. Gibbs.
Florida, 554 pp., £30.50, December 2005, 0 8130 2859 0
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... up, like Fay Wray, squeezed in its paw. A.M. Gibbs spends most of the introduction to Bernard Shaw: A Life justifying his decision to return to a very well-ploughed furrow. But by citing no less than four previous biographies by the end of page two, he is being consciously naive. He knows perfectly well he will be judged principally against Michael ...

Well, was he?

A.N. Wilson, 20 June 1996

Bernard ShawThe Ascent of the Superman 
by Sally Peters.
Yale, 328 pp., £18.95, April 1996, 0 300 06097 1
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... What do we make of Shaw, the most ephemeral Great Man of early 20th-century literature? Naturally, he received the Nobel Prize, and he made himself very rich twice over, partly by writing perky, harmless plays, partly by marrying money. His outstanding virtue as a man was that he could be immensely kind: he was generous to spongers and – a big plus on anyone’s marksheet because it was so rare – was prepared to stick up for Wilde at the time of Oscar’s fall from grace ...

Stalker & Co

Damian Grant, 20 November 1986

... Octagon Theatre. One chain of events focuses on the Deputy Chief Constable of Manchester, Mr John Stalker, who was recently suspended for three months during an internal disciplinary investigation and subsequently reinstated by the lay Police Authority, despite the evident willingness of his senior colleagues to have him face a tribunal. The other ...

Fire and Water

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 October 1985

Water Power in Scotland: 1550-1870 
by John Shaw.
John Donald, 606 pp., £25, April 1984, 0 85976 072 3
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The History of the British Coal Industry. Vol. II: 1700-1830, The Industrial Revolution 
by Michael Flinn and David Stoker.
Oxford, 491 pp., £35, March 1984, 0 19 828283 4
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Industry and Ethos: Scotland 1832-1914 
by Sydney Checkland and Olive Checkland.
Arnold, 218 pp., £5.95, March 1984, 0 7131 6317 8
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The Jacobite Clans of the Great Glen: 1650-1784 
by Bruce Lenman.
Methuen, 246 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 0 413 48690 7
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The Prince and the Pretender: A Study in the Writing of History 
by A.J. Youngson.
Croom Helm, 270 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 7099 2908 0
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Canna: The Story of a Hebridean Island 
by J.L. Campbell.
Oxford, 323 pp., £25, December 1984, 0 19 920137 4
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... area of social dereliction. None could have gained their 19th-century flavour without coal. John Shaw’s book is a careful reference work of value to all in research on local economic development or on particular industries. It has a sound appreciation of early technology. Its maps show the concentration of Scottish industry in the early days of ...

A Good Ladies’ Tailor

Brigid Brophy, 2 July 1981

Bernard Shaw and the Actresses 
by Margot Peters.
Columbus, 461 pp., £8.75, March 1981, 0 385 12051 6
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... Mozart had a discernible tendency to fall in love with his sopranos, Shaw something little short of a compulsion to fall in love with, first, women who took singing lessons from his mother and then, after he turned dramatist, his actresses. This must be one of the hazards of creating works of art that need executants to perform them ...

Georgian eyes are smiling

Frank Kermode, 15 September 1988

Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: The Search for Love, 1856-1898 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 486 pp., £16, September 1988, 0 7011 3332 5
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Bernard ShawCollected Letters. Vol. IV 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 946 pp., £30, June 1988, 0 370 31130 2
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ShawThe Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies. Vol. VIII 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 175 pp., $25, April 1988, 0 271 00613 7
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Shaw’s Sense of History 
by J.L. Wisenthal.
Oxford, 186 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812892 4
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Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. III: 1903-1907 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 532 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 521 32387 8
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Joseph Conrad: ‘Nostromo’ 
by Ian Watt.
Cambridge, 98 pp., £12.50, April 1988, 0 521 32821 7
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... There were already good biographies of Shaw, notably those of Frank Harris and Hesketh Pearson, both of whom knew Shaw and had the benefit of his energetic interventions. Pearson in particular will not be easily supplanted. Nevertheless the archives of the world are full of Shaviana inaccessible before his death, and because there had not been a serious attempt since 1956 – the centenary year – the Shaw Estate sensibly decided that the time had come for a new biography, and invited Mr Holroyd to write it ...

Shaviana

Brigid Brophy, 2 December 1982

Bernard ShawThe Darker Side 
by Arnold Silver.
Stanford, 353 pp., $25, January 1982, 0 8047 1091 0
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Bernard Shaw and Alfred Douglas: A Correspondence 
edited by Mary Hyde.
Murray, 237 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 7195 3947 1
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... The most charming fact I have stumbled on in intellectual history is that Freud and Shaw were shocked by one another. Freud’s wounded romanticism speaks in his reference (in Group Psychology, 1921) to ‘Bernard Shaw’s malicious aphorism to the effect that being in love means greatly exaggerating the difference between one woman and another ...

A Row of Shaws

Terry Eagleton: That Bastard Shaw, 21 June 2018

Judging Shaw 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Royal Irish Academy, 381 pp., £28, October 2017, 978 1 908997 15 9
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... Nowhere is this shift from margin to centre more striking than in the career of George Bernard Shaw. Born in Dublin in 1856 into a decayed branch of the Protestant Ascendancy, the son of a drunken petty official and a mother from the minor gentry, Shaw was in his own word a ‘downstart’. In this superbly perceptive ...

Sick mother be damned

P.N. Furbank, 6 March 1986

Bernard Shaw’s Collected Letters. Vol. III: 1911-1925 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 989 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 370 30203 6
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... It is difficult, yet not impossible, to imagine Bernard Shaw at a loss for words. The thing indeed occurred in 1928 at Thomas Hardy’s funeral, when Shaw and Kipling were paired in the procession of mourners but could find nothing whatever to say to each other. Shaw’s own excuse was that it was absurd to have coupled such a tall man with such a very short one ...

Which is the hero?

David Edgar, 20 March 1997

Henrik Ibsen 
by Robert Ferguson.
Cohen, 466 pp., £25, November 1996, 1 86066 078 9
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... and a translator of Ibsen, was inspired to write the first major biography for 25 years by seeing John Barton’s Oslo production of Peer Gynt ‘and wondering why a man who could create a comic circus like that should choose to devote the rest of his life to writing a series of dark analyses of unhappiness’. The explanation he comes up with is that between ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: What Went On at the Arts Council, 4 December 1986

... Roy Shaw will not have expected an easy passage as Secretary-General of the Arts Council, but the weather worsened steadily during his tenure, and the discomfort exceeded all rational apprehensions. His book explains why this was so.* The directorate of the Council exists primarily to make judgments of value; it is required, having taken the best advice available, to decide which enterprises deserve public support, and to what extent ...

The Irresistible Rise of a Folk Hero

Gabrielle Cox, 3 March 1988

Stalker 
by John Stalker.
Harrap, 288 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 245 54616 2
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Stalker: The Search for the Truth 
by Peter Taylor.
Faber, 231 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 571 14836 0
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... who win Mastermind. Now his own long-heralded account of his experiences has been published. John Stalker had been Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police for only two months when he was asked to conduct an investigation into matters arising out of three incidents in Northern Ireland, where Royal Ulster Constabulary officers had shot and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’, 6 August 2009

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 
directed by Tony Scott.
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... The chief pleasure of the new version of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is the sight of John Travolta as the model bad guy. He is genial and livid by turns, entirely persuasive in both moods, the very image of crazed behaviour, and far more engaging and unhinged than he was in Pulp Fiction. That film brought certain of his earlier roles to mind, but this one makes us want to rethink Grease entirely, and maybe the whole genre of the musical ...

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