A few months ago, I was reading through a small packet of unpublished letters by Shaw and was struck by a short one written to Pakenham Beatty’s wife Ida in which he is intensely irritated. During the spring of 1906, her female doctor was evidently determined to get him to visit her facilities. In the letter, dated 11 April, he entreats Ida to call her off, fed up with her persistence:

Shaw’s vehemence here anticipates that of St. John Hotchkiss in Getting Married (which he would begin writing the following year) who exclaims: “This woman is a harpy, a siren, a mermaid, a vampire. There is only one chance for me: flight, instant precipitate flight.”2

The doctor’s perseverance and the playwright’s dilemma remind us just how highly a GBS endorsement was valued by large commercial companies or even just what his visit could mean for publicity to small business...

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