Mrs. Patrick Campbell correspondence and other papers
- 1901-1940 and undated
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Extent1.5 linear feet (1 box)
The letters between Shaw and Mrs. Patrick range widely, delving into the subjects of their active careers, family, health, emotions, travel, and their many significant theatrical and society acquaintances and friends. James Barrie, W.B. (William Bulter) Yeats, Dame Ellen Terry, Alfred and Edith Sophy Lyttelton, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Sir Arthur Wing Pinero and Sir Henry Irving are mentioned with casual frequency. Politics is a notably absent theme; Mrs. Patrick was not particularly interested.
A significant portion of the correspondence involves a specific and contentious topic for these writers: the publication of their letters. This project occupied Mrs. Patrick’s imagination for many years, first as a feature of her 1922 My life and some letters, in which she hoped to feature Shaw’s letters to her, a proposition he did not favor. Acting in defense of his and his wife, Charlotte Frances Payne-Townshend Shaw’s, privacy, he demanded revision and redaction in advance of the publication. Their debate on the subject reigned during the years of 1921 and 1922 and concluded in a stretch of near silence lasting until 1928. In 1938, near the end of her life, Mrs. Patrick again applied a concerted effort toward a published volume of their correspondence.
Publication exists not only as a theme of these letters, but as another framework through which they were actively read, both by Shaw and Mrs. Patrick, as well as others such as the editor of a 1952 volume of their correspondence, Alan Dent. Manuscript annotations and corrections by these parties litter the letters and are noted where applicable.
Also included in this collection are two letters to friends Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lachman from Mrs. Patrick. Additionally, letters to Mrs. Patrick from her son, Alan Urquhart (“Beo”), various theatrical figures including George Arliss, Arnold Bennett, and Sir John Gielgud, and friends such as Daphne Du Maurier and Naomi Ellington Jacob are included. Typescript transcripts of Shaw’s letters and postcards to Mrs. Patrick as well as several letters from publishers and lawyers relating to the publication their correspondence round out the collection.
Biographical / Historical
Though begun at the close of the previous century, the correspondence between Shaw and Mrs. Patrick did not truly bloom until 1912. At that time, Shaw, the noted playwright, Fabian socialist, journalist, dramatic and literary critic, who had been married to fellow Fabian suffragist Charlotte Frances Payne-Townshend Shaw since 1898, pronounced himself to be "head over ears in love" with Mrs. Patrick. In 1914, when Mrs. Patrick, a widow of almost 15 years, was to marry George Cornwallis-West, Shaw implored her not to marry "that George." The marriage, combined with a souring experience for the two flirtatious friends in Sandwich (1913), seemed to dull the frequency of their correspondence until the 1920s when Mrs. Patrick introduced the idea of publishing their collected letters in her autobiographical work, My life and some letters.
The correspondence, though less frequent through the years, continued to the end of Mrs. Patrick's life. Her will, written in 1934, stated her long-held desire that their correspondence be published in full. Shaw's will, dated the year of his death in 1950, granted long-withheld permission for the correspondence to be published to the financial benefit of Mrs. Patrick's great-grandchildren. The collection, edited by Alan Dent, Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell: their correspondence (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952), included a significant selection, though not all, of the correspondence. Of the letters included, a number were also edited for content to prevent “pain or embarrassment.”
- I. Correspondence
- ___A. Letters from Mrs. Patrick Campbell
- ___B. Letters to Mrs. Patrick Campbell
- ___C. Other correspondence
- II. Other material
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Dent, Alan. Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell their correspondence. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952.)
- Kilty, Jerome. Dear Liar: A comedy of letters adapted by Jerome Kilty from the correspondence of Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell. (London: Max Reinhardt, 1960.)
- Peters, Margot. Bernard Shaw and the actresses. (New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1980.)
Cataloging enhanced in 2011 by Emilie L. Hardman.
NOTE: When the final cataloging was completed in 2011, the items were completely resorted and assigned new item numbers. At some time in the past, penciled item numbers had been written on most letters and envelopes. The reader should note that those penciled numbers no longer are valid.
- Campbell, Patrick, Mrs., 1865-1940. Mrs. Patrick Campbell correspondence and other papers, 1901-1940: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.
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