George Bernard Shaw Photographs

Scope and Content

Approx. 16,000 photographs by George Bernard Shaw [1895-1950] and others of Shaw, his house at Shaw's Corner (including of the household and surrounding area), his friends and family, of places he visited and other places he lived in. There are production photographs for plays including The Apple Cart and film stills and behind the scenes images for Caesar and Cleopatra (1946) and Major Barbara (1941). Included with the photographs are a number of prints of TE Lawrence's Arabian photographs c1914.

In addition to prints are approx. 4000 cellulose and glass plate negatives.

There are also albums collated by Shaw which are still in their original housing and covering topics such as Shaw's family and travels, including his visit to Auguste Rodin.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 - 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright and social commentator and thinker. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main output was dramatic, and he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings deal with prevailing social problems and touch on issues he was concerned with.

An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land and promoting healthy lifestyles. Unusually for the time he persuaded the latter by being a vegetarian.

Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a fellow Fabian, whom he survived. Their circle included many political and artistic personalities including, Lady Nancy Astor, Auguste Rodin, TE Lawrence, Augustus John and Beatrice and Sidney Webb. They settled in Ayot St. Lawrence in Shaw's Corner having lived at several addresses and having travelled widely in Europe, Russia, South Africa and New Zealand. Shaw died there, aged 94.

He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name), respectively.

Access Information

Prints open, restrictions on negetives due to fragile condition.


Being catalogued.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Photographic print; paper; glass; leather.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Karyn Stuckey, Man & Cameraman Project Archivist, Mar 2010.

Custodial History

Transferred from Shaw's Corner by The National Trust, 1979.

Related Material

The British Library of Political and Economic Science also holds the business papers and diaries of George Bernard Shaw (Ref: Shaw and SR 0293). For a full list of material relating to Shaw held at the Library and elsewhere, see the description for the Shaw business papers.


Bill Jay and Margaret Moore (ed) Bernard Shaw on Photography (P.Smith Books, Salt Lake City, 1989).

Some prints have been published in biographies.