In The Book Handbook for 1947 F.E.Lowenstein, the biographer of G. Bernard Shaw, quotes from an article published in The Daily Sketch of 3rd November 1941 which recounted how in 1928 American bookseller Frank Glenn headed a syndicate of dealers which bid in London for some Shaw MSS.
“…Shaw unblushingly mentioned £5,000 at first with the remark that ‘you cannot buy the writings of a genius for a farthing ‘ . But eventually he must have come down, for the group obtained some manuscripts for £400. Now a single item has been sold for £500.”
This notice caused Bernard Shaw to write a letter to the paper, which was duly printed in the issue of 12th November. Here is an extract:
“ Allow me to warn Mr Glenn and all who it may concern that I have never sold a manuscript in my life, nor autographed an edition for sale, nor even a single copy to be auctioned at a bazaar.
“…The transaction to which Glenn refers no doubt arose out of the enterprise of somebody who, having obtained specimens of my handwriting from some correspondence on which he had engaged me, imitated it as best he could in pages from my published works, had photostats made of them and sold them as Shaw manuscripts.
“No such manuscripts had ever existed, as I write for the Press in Pitman’s phonetic script (without reporting contractions) which is then translettred on the typewriter by another hand and sent to the printer.
I have presented a few pages of the Pitman script to public libraries with a fancy for such relics ( I kept ten pages of St Joan picked at random for this purpose ), but the rest have been ruthlessly torn up and are not available even for the waste paper war salvage”. Continue reading