Tuesday, 13 August 2013

LETTERS OF NOTE: George Bernard Shaw's Admirer

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Today's Letter of Note concerns George Bernard Shaw, author, playwright and prominent member of The Fabian Society. But the subject is not Shaw's politics or his body of work, but one of his admirers.

In 1905 Shaw received a letter asking for advice, sent from a certain 'Miss Charming'. Miss Charming turned out to be an aspiring young playwright called Erica Cotterill, and the pair began a long and often flirtatious correspondence. 7 years later, things came to a head when Erica moved close to Shaw's home and arrived unannounced at his house - where she was promptly met by Shaw's wife, Charlotte, who was pretty furious about the whole thing.
Having been ordered by Charlotte to end the correspondence, Shaw chose to do so in an unusual way. He wrote a letter to Erica in Charlotte's name, explaining why marrying him would not be a good idea for either party. Whether you see it as a facetious jibe or an extremely backhanded compliment, it certainly makes for interesting reading.

You can read 'Charlotte''s letter in its entirety here. If you want more from Shaw, check out my now-ancient reviews of Pygmalion and The Millionairess. I also refer to Shaw's work, in regard to the latter, in my review of The World of Henry Orient.

Daniel

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