Archive for the ‘George Bernard Shaw photographs’ Category

Shaw the World Traveler

February 8th, 2012 by Imogene Inge, Man and Cameraman Project Archivist

The cataloguing of George Bernard Shaw’s 35mm film negatives is now complete. Shaw began to use 35mm film in the 1930s using a Leica Camera. In comparison with his earlier photographs they have an almost snapshot feel and document the places and people he visited. There are over 1900 images and they date from the early 1930s to around 1946. His trips around the world are recorded, including his cruises to South Africa, New Zealand and New York and his visits to Russia and Israel. There are also a number of images of Cliveden, seat of the Astor family and Chateau Impney, former home of the industrialist John Corbett.

In April 1931 the Shaws took a break from the Hellenic Travellers’ Club tour of the Mediterranean and went to stay in Venice for three weeks. During this time GB Shaw took over 80 photographs of the city’s unique sights. Here are a few of my favourite images.


Venice, 1931

View of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Venetian Lagoon


View across the piazza towards the Basilica di San Marco

View across the piazza towards the Basilica di San Marco


View of the statue of the winged lion representing St. Mark on the column in the Piazzetta di San Marco

View of the statue of the winged lion representing St. Mark on the column in the Piazzetta di San Marco


View of the facade of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

View of the facade of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


Copyright: LSE, George Bernard Shaw Estate (Society of Authors) no part of this post may be used without permission.  


GB Shaw’s photographs go live

July 1st, 2011 by Karyn Stuckey, Man and Cameraman Project Archivist

GB Shaw self-portrait

Over 11,000 photographs and negatives from GB Shaw’s photographic collection are now browsable online, SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS catalogue. They include images of Shaw with people as varied as Sir Edward Elgar and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, portraits of Shaw, self-portraits, portraits by Shaw of friends and associates, press photographs (such as a group portrait of him with the cast of Major Barbara), production images, Shaw’s Corner and Ayot St Lawrence and holiday pictures from trips to places such as Continental Europe, Algeria, Ireland and the UK.  Of these there are over 1,700 of his negatives available, these have not been seen since he put them away in drawers at Shaw’s Corner after processing them. To celebrate Through the lens: the photographic world of GB Shaw features highlights of the collection.

All images appear as close to the original as possible to allow an authentic viewing experience and thus have not been cleaned up. Each description contains details such as date, location, how the image was photographically processed, measurements and photographer where all this is known or has been found out]. The loose prints, SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS/1 are still being scanned and so not all catalogue entries have images but these are being updated on a weekly basis.

Searching the catalogue

The catalogue has had a revamp and now features a gallery and collection highlight section as well as new ways of searching. If you want to view the entire of Shaw’s photographic collection click here.

Using the ‘Quick Catalogue Search’ box at the top right you can search phrases, names, places etc. Please note you will get results from all LSE collections and not just Shaw’s photographs.

Use the ‘Advanced Search’ tab on the horizontal menu bar to search by ‘Persons’ [names, including organisations], ‘Places’ or ‘Catalogue’. The latter allows for more focused searching than the quick search box as you can narrow the search to SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS and enter search words into a variety of fields, ‘any text’ being the most flexible.

Please keep in mind that stage names/alternative names will not be found by searching under ‘Persons’ (as people are indexed by authorised/formal names) for these use ‘Catalogue’. The main example is Mrs Patrick Campbell, use ‘Catalogue’ then ‘Any Text’ (her authorised/formal name was Beatrice Stella Cornwallis-West, this would be found using ‘Persons’).

LSE also holds Shaw’s business papers, search SHAW, and diaries, search SHAW DIARIES.

If you spot a place or person you recognise you can e-mail me please include the reference number of the image for example, SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS/1/1345. If you have any questions please look below at ‘Frequently asked questions’. If you can’t find the answer you need email

I hope you enjoy browsing the images online.


Frequently asked questions

What does the reference number SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS/1 mean? That the item is a loose print/photograph/positive.

What does the reference number SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS/2 mean? That the item is a photographic album/in a photographic album.

What does the reference number SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS/3 mean? That the item is a negative.

What does the reference number SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS/4 mean? That the item is a paper based, mainly annotated envelopes.

Why do some appear wonky? Many of the images have been hand cut by Shaw or have had borders added that are not straight at the time of processing. A small number have curved over time and these naturally spring creating the appearance of wonky edges: if you see a print with a cream support along the bottom this is why.

Why can’t I find a person/place I know Shaw was friends with/visited? There are still some  items to be catalogued the person/place may yet appear. There do seem to be some gaps (a photograph of TE Lawrence on one of his visits to Shaw’s Corner remains elusive and is a good case in point) and sadly it seems he simply didn’t always get his camera out. Some people and places are unidentified, for unidentified people type ‘unidentified man’, ‘woman’, ‘group’ or ‘child’ into the ‘Any Text’ field and SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS into the ‘Ref No’ field under ‘advanced search/catalogue’, for unidentified places type ‘unidentified location/place’ [or 'unidentified man etc in the 'Title' field]. Also, cataloguing is not infallible, it may be a lake has been identified as Ireland but is in fact Scotland (even many of Charlotte Shaw’s inscriptions have a question mark after names etc and GB Shaw is quite good at contradicting himself marking two copies of the same prints as different places!). That is why we are happy for people to comment [see above].

Why do some records not have images? The most likely reason is because they are still in copyright. The exception is TE Lawrence. There are so many prints by him that not all have been scanned because the project is concerned with Shaw as a photographer however, a selection has been scanned and if time allows more will follow. To find photographs by TE Lawrence search ‘TE Lawrence print’ in the ‘Title’ field under ‘advanced search/catalogue’.

Can the prints be seen off line? Yes, these can be seen at LSE Archives

Can the negatives and albums be seen off line? The negatives have been catalogued as they are returned from specialist scanning and so are not fully available until digitisation and cataloguing is complete. Over 1,700 are already available. Due to the nature of negatives they can not be viewed at LSE and are due to be frozen to halt their deterioration. The albums are due to be photographed and the catalogue entries will then have images, we are also developing a browse tool for you to look through the albums, clicking on images as you like to see them full size. These can be seen at LSE Archives [check before visiting that they are not away for photography].

I wish to publish one of the images and need a high resolution copy, what should I do? In the first instance e-mail the request to Please note, responsibility to clear copyright rests with you and not LSE (although we will give you advise where we can). We will tell you if the image is copyrighted.

Is the catalogue covered by copyright? Yes, the text and digital images are copyrighted to LSE. E-mail requests for use of either should be sent to Images may also be copyrighted to the photographer, in the case of GB Shaw the Society of Authors manage his copyright. WATCH is a useful resource for checking individual copyrights.

How do I find out more? Visit our blog and click ‘Bernard Shaw’ (under the heading tags on the right) for posts about the project and photographs or visit our project page where you will find information about the project or our Facebook page.  Lastly, we have two online exhibitions, Snapshots from Man & Cameraman and Through the lens: the photographic world of GB Shaw


Man & Cameraman

Copyright: LSE,  George Bernard Shaw Estate (Society of Authors) no part of this post may be used without permission. LSE is not responsible for content on externally linked sites.

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Shaw also wrote some plays

May 19th, 2011 by Karyn Stuckey, Man and Cameraman Project Archivist

Every picture tells a story: this fortnight I am going to deviate slightly from concentrating on an image because it occurs to me I have not really mentioned what Shaw is most famous for, writing. This is of course because Man & Cameraman is a project about his life as a photographer but the collection does relate to his writing life also as Shaw collected production photographs of his plays, there are also behind the scenes images and production stills from the film versions of Major Barbara and Caesar & Cleopatra. Arguably his most famous play, Pygmalion, is also represented. Following the release of My Fair Lady, the hit Hollywood musical based on the play, it was not produced for decades but this summer can be seen in Dublin, Shaw’s Corner and in the West End: this latter location is where I found myself last night, thoroughly enjoying a funny and charming play (I had worried I wouldn’t because as sacrilegious as this is to say I adore My Fair Lady) and so this morning I have scored LSE collections to see what we have on the play.

One lovely thing (I presume accidental as the production team didn’t visit us to our knowledge) is the sets, Higgins library/study contains stuffed shelves with busy wallpapers in between, it therefore has the same appearance as Shaw’s studies up to the 1920s. Higgins mother’s sitting room likewise bears resemblance to living rooms in Shaw’s houses up to the same period: armchairs, a sofa, large palms with panels of wall paper and wood panelling. It will be interesting to see if production teams will think to use Shaw’s photographs for inspiration and research once word has spread of their existence.

Scouting locations for Pygmalion

Originally due to be premiered in London in 1913 this was pushed back to 1914 to allow Mrs Patrick Campbell to play the role (it was premiered in 1913 but in Germany). Two films were made on the Continent before the Lesley Howard version was filmed, this version involved Shaw like the others, was directed by Gabriel Pascal who promised not to change a word and launched the movie career of Wendy Hillier (who also starred in Major Barbara).

Dutch production 1915

The collection contains portraits of Campbell (52 to be precise), production shots and related items such as the above location recee for the film version and images of Gabriel Pascal on sets and at Shaw’s Corner.  LSE also holds Shaw’s business papers and diaries and these cross over with the photographic collection. For Pygmalion for example we have ticket receipts, royalty details, letters regarding performance rights from various countries including Spain and Poland [below, Dutch production 1915], letter regarding published editions and translations, items relating to disputes over productions, letters regarding terms for filming the play.

Shaw’s production photographs  give the collection some of its most famous faces such as Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger, both on and off set asw ell as portraits of stage stars of the twentieth century such as Harley Granville Barker and Lillah McCarthy.  They also allow us to see how different people performed the same play, we can see how sets and costumes were designed for example. They also show that Shaw was interested in other peoples plays, one of the albums is full of production postcards for the Glastonbury Festival (1914-1927 not to be confused with its current incarnation but rather an arts festival championed by Shaw and others including Thomas Beecham, John Galsworthy, Gustav Holst and  Sir Edward Elgar). In addition we have photographs of Shaw at work, my favourite set shows him lounging on the ground and stretched out on benches with crutches nearby as he had recently injured himself and writing Caesar & Cleopatra.

GB Shaw writing Caesar & Cleopatra

“What is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything. Therefore, I ask you, as two gentlemen, not to play that game on me. I’m playing straight with you. I ain’t pretending to be deserving. I’m undeserving; and I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it; and that’s the truth. Will you take advantage of a man’s nature to do him out of the price of his own daughter what he’s brought up and fed and clothed by the sweat of his brow until she’s growed big enough to be interesting to you two gentlemen? Is five pounds unreasonable? I put it to you; and I leave it to you.”

A favourite speech from Pygmalion as well as a brilliant comment on class within class and society.

Man & Cameraman

Copyright: LSE, GB Shaw (Society of Authors) no part of this post may be used without permission.


William, or is it Fiona?

May 11th, 2011 by Karyn Stuckey, Man and Cameraman Project Archivist

Every picture tells a story: this one leads us into the remarkable life of William Sharp who maintained an alter ego as Fiona MacLeod. Sharp was a writer, editor and reviewer and part of the Celtic circle known as The Evergreen (he was also a member of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s literary circle) which surrounded Patrick Geddes, biologist, sociologist, philanthropist and pioneering town planner. Taken at Blen-Cathra, Hindhead, Surrey in 1899 it shows Sharp at the height of his double life. The reasons for this duplicity remain unknown but two main theories exist.


Already a published writer under his own name Sharp began publishing as Fiona in 1893, when ‘Fiona’ needed to write a personal letter Sharp would dictate it to his sister so as to maintain his cover.  The strategy was remarkably successful, only William Butler Yeats is known to have found him out. Yeats’ discovery led Sharp to admit to the double persona and a scandal was borne. Victorian society was shocked by his double life and by the suspected reasons behind it.  Even this is refuted, other sources tell us Yeats kept his counsel and Sharp was never publically discovered, even though the Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour, wanted to meet Fiona (he deflected requests for interviews by whisking her off to the Scottish Islands). (Fiona might have qualified for a civil list pensions hence Balfour’s desire to meet her, Sharp never qualified as himself.)

Sharp was a member of the Golden Dawn (often associated with the fashionable Fin de siècle social culture, a term Shaw uses in some annotations), a magical order practising theurgy (rituals to invoke gods), founded in 1888 it lies at the centre of many modern occult practises.  In addition to the Dawn Sharp was a member of a more obscure esoteric group dedicated to the goddess Brigit, for whom he wrote extensively: it was involved in spiritual music, the faery realm, the idea of the divine feminine and work with sacred space and sacred geometry. His spiritual ideas inspired Fiona, as an outward expression of an inner feminine consciousness. Sharp called himself Wilfion (i.e. his true self, a united female and male) and he believed that  The Green Life (faery realm and planetary spirit) was to where he would return at his death and be his true self.


Sharp developed an intensely romantic attachment to his wives relative, the celebrated beauty and Celtic writer Edith Wingate Rinder and she inspired some of his work including Pharais, A Romance of the Isles (published as Fiona MacLeod): The story of a love affair doomed to failure is a veiled, romanticised version of their relationship. The pseudonym was used primarily to disguise his authorship from London critics who, he feared, would not treat it seriously if they knew it was the work of William Sharp (being how ’serious’ writers were not given to publishing bodice ripping romances!). He continued to publish similar books as MacLeod and they were very successful. Sharp proceeded to invent a life for Fiona and to project her personality through her publications and letters. In his own letters (signed William Sharp), he promoted the writings of Fiona, added touches to her character and sometimes functioned as her agent.  To some he asserted she was his cousin, and he implied to a few intimate friends they were lovers.

Sharp is therefore an enigma. The photographs of him show a mildly eccentric enigmatic man sat in a fashionable room. They cannot tell us about their subjects but they do lead us into some extraordinary lives when researching them.

Man & Cameraman

Copyright: LSE, GB Shaw (Society of Authors) no part of this post may be used without permission.


Man of action: actor-manager, solider, aviator and Fabian

April 19th, 2011 by Karyn Stuckey, Man and Cameraman Project Archivist

Every picture tells a story: some lives, or portions thereof, are traced through GB Shaw’s photographs. One such life is that of Robert Loraine, perhaps best known as an actor we see him most commonly on holiday with the Shaw’s and Harley Granville-Barker or at Fabian events. Loraine and Shaw shared political affiliations and a passion for theatre: it was Loraine who premiered as the lead in the Man & Superman on Broadway, the production was massively successful and launched Shaw as a force to be reckoned with in the States. The pair also clearly enjoyed each others company and were relaxed together, in one of Shaw’s albums we see the party Shaw took up in a hot air balloon over London (Loraine, Granville-Barker and Mary Cholmondeley, Charlotte Shaw’s sister), quite a daring act in 1906. Below we see Loraine performing acrobatics with his dog at Shaw’s Corner.

Loraine dancing with his dog, 1912Loraine and his dog shake 'hands', 1912

According to Shaw’s biographer he admired Loraine’s combination of artist and man of action [Holroyd, Vol ii, p187]. One such action, a morning sea swim during the 1907 Fabian Summer School nearly resulted in the pair drowning. However, Loraine is best known for his more successful adventures. He joined up and fought successfully in the Boer War as a yeoman, in World War I he fought as an aviator rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel: whilst at the front Shaw sent Loraine toilet roll, a precious and rare commodity on the battlefield! Loraine’s aerial exploits were not confined to warfare, he was the first man to successfully fly over the Irish Sea, took part in exhibition flights and coined the phrase joystick [see Flight Magazine, 1936 for details.]

After the end of the War he returned to acting and managing and again performed in a popular Shaw work, Arms & the Man.

I rather like the fact that a man full of action and endeavour is most commonly seen through Shaw’s lens lounging, relaxed, happy and at ease like a character from the Arcadian sections of novels of the period.

Loraine, Mevagissey, 1910

Man & Cameraman

Copyright: LSE, GB Shaw (Society of Authors) no part of this post may be used without permission.


Cornwall and GB Shaw

April 4th, 2011 by Karyn Stuckey, Man and Cameraman Project Archivist

Every picture tells a story:  GB Shaw’s photographic collection contains 273 (and counting!) images of Cornwall. The exciting thing about Shaw’s travel photographs are that they allow us to piece together where he went and when, locations can often be pinpointed along with dates and companions for example, I have recently been cataloguing his images from Algeria which helpfully record where he was and, to the day, when he was. The Cornish photographs show him and Charlotte Shaw at leisure 1910-1914. They allow us to see his skills as a landscape photographer, how places he visited may have changed and (as alluded to) who he spent time with. A reoccurring companion is the actor and director Harley Granville-Barker. Other companions include Robert Lorraine (actor), John and Ada Galsworthy (John, novelist), Lillah McCarthy (actress) and William Pember Reeves (Director of LSE, Fabian). From this we can see who Shaw spent his holidays with and what activities they undertook, both swimming and cycling are reoccurring for example, giving us a glimpse into Shaw’s private life.

Harley Granville-Barker at Mevagissey a favourite holiday spot

Harley Granville-Barker at Mevagissey a favourite holiday spot

Charlestown, looking much as it still does

Charlestown, looking much as it still does

Charlotte Shaw and Harley Granville-Barker relaxing at Mevagissey

Charlotte Shaw and Harley Granville-Barker relaxing at Mevagissey

Cornish landscape, typical of Shaw's style in the 1910s

Cornish landscape, typical of Shaw's style in the 1910s

The images also reveal the difference between looking at a print and a negative, Charlestown is a negative and the landscape is a print on fibrous paper. The former is very clear with subtler changes in tones whilst the latter shows greater tonal contrasts partly because of the gathering of ink on the paper fibres in the darker portions of the print.  The negative is the pure image as captured by Shaw, 1910-1914. The print was quite possibly also created by Shaw but is not necessarily contemporaneous to the taking of the image, prints can be manipulated during processing as so the production of them is a creative process: they are not always ‘copies’ of the negative.

Man & Cameraman

Copyright: LSE, GB Shaw (Society of Authors) no part of this post may be used without permission.