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Richard S. Weiner Collection of George Bernard Shaw, 1886-1950, M0100

Identifier: M0100

Scope and Contents

From "Guide to Special Collections at Colgate University":

1570 letters from Shaw to various correspondents, as well as holograph manuscripts, typescripts, revised proof, play books, art works, photographs and published materials by and about Shaw, and a sampling of Shaw ephemera. The collection also contains six Max Beerbohm cartoons of Shaw. An unpublished catalog is available within the department and specific requests can be made to the Special Collections Librarian.


  • Creation: 1886 - 1950

Historical Note

The collection is the gift of attorney-turned-bookman Richard Weiner ‘68, proprietor of Escargot Books, a book store in Brielle, New Jersey. Two converging impulses led to the creation of the collection — Weiner’s interest in Shaw and his desire to do something for his alma mater.

With a master’s degree in French from Harvard, a law degree from Penn, and a keen interest in Shaw, whose work he found both amusing and provocative, Weiner began collecting in 1980. Within a few years of his first purchase, a 3 by 5 signed snapshot of an elderly Shaw walking a country lane with hat, cane, and knickers, he had formed the nucleus of his remarkable collection. His initial gift to Colgate in the early 1980’s was followed by substantial additions well into the 1990’s.

The correspondence is one of the great strengths of the collection. While some of it will be familiar to scholars through the Collected Letters and other publications, most of it will be new. Given that the collection contains correspondence from Shaw to well over 400 different recipients, any discussion here is necessarily incomplete. Chief among the letters, however, are those from Shaw to Gilbert Murray — nearly fifty written between 1898 and 1950. Subjects covered include Shaw’s plays, Murray’s translations, politics, publishing, WW II, Catholicism, and personal news. Another substantial segment, close to 150 letters and postcards to Charles Macdona between 1912 and 1940, documents Shaw’s relationship with the theatrical producer, providing a detailed look at Shaw’s views on casting, play selection, advertising, programs, film, and play touring. Letters to a number of significant figures touch on many aspects of Shaw’s work in the theater.

Manuscripts comprise another significant component of the collection. The extensively revised autograph first draft and the heavily corrected typescript of Common Sense about the War are perhaps the most important manuscripts in the collection. The other major manuscript, and the item that Weiner describes as his most exciting purchase, is Bernard Shaw’s Rhyming Picture Guide to Ayot, which includes Shaw’s original photographs and holograph text. In addition to manuscripts of several articles and reviews, the Weiner Collection has the holograph manuscript of a Shaw report to the Executive Committee of the National Shakespeare Theatre. The collection also contains fourteen questionnaires answered by Shaw on such diverse topics as Indian home rule, the relation of cinema to the theatre, war and armaments, production of Shakespeare in modern dress, Bloody Sunday, and capitalism in the future.

Shaw’s 1904 Photographic Exposure Record and Diary, a particularly fascinating item, contains a record of photographs taken during his 1904 trip to Italy and includes notes on his daily activities. The collection also has several photographs by Shaw, including a self portrait, shots of Charlotte Shaw, and a lighthouse, which provide examples of his photographic skill. His letters to professional photographer and supplier M. H. Hoather add another dimension to the study of his interest in photography. In addition, the Weiner Collection has numerous photographs of Shaw, including one taken in 1876.

Richard S. Weiner died in 2002.

Excerpted from Ferguson, A. L. (2000). The Richard S. Weiner Collection. in Berst, C., Conolly, L., Evans, T., Ferguson, A., Grene, N., Laurence, D., . . . Weintraub, S. (2000). SOME PRINCIPAL SHAW RESEARCH SOURCES. Shaw, 20, 137-176. Retrieved from


100 Cubic Feet (80+ boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Richard S. Weiner '68, Brielle, NJ, on May 20, 1990. Additional materials received in 1996.

In Progress
Kathleen Trychta, Francesca Livermore, Melissa Hubbard
September 28, 2012
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Colgate University Libraries Repository

13 Oak Drive
Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology
Colgate University
Hamilton New York 13346 United States US
315-228-7934 (Fax)