Shopping list on back of letter from Bernard Shaw

Whilst leafing through Bernard Shaw's impassioned correspondence to Ellen Terry I was surprised to come across a shopping list. The list is obviously written in a different hand to the other letters and I cannot imagine Shaw would send a note to Terry on the back of an old shopping list. Everything about the letters he writes to her is considered, each being produced on good quality paper written in ink pen with a careful hand. The shopping list looks as if it has been written at great speed, the handwriting is sloppy, the ink smeared, the words crossed out.

 

By reading through Shaw's forty years' worth of letters to Ellen Terry I learnt that much to Shaw's distress she married someone else. I imagine her husband was not delighted about the lengthy letters Shaw continued to send to his wife after their wedding. This is not discussed directly in the letters but the shopping list tells another story. I suspect it was written by Terry's jealous husband as, underneath the list, are the sarcastic words:

'Oh no, a letter from George Bernard Shaw on the other side, what a pity! Oh the sugar and the bacon, the servants and the drains!' R. L.

Thanks to The Society of Authors, on behalf of the Bernard Shaw Estate, for granting us permission to use this image.

Taken from: Add. 17469 A Little Dust Whispered
Author / Creator: Rachel Lichtenstein
Publisher: The British Library
Date: 2004
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board