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George Bernard Shaw

The Bernard F. Burgunder Collection is one of the largest collections of Shaw manuscripts and books in the world. It contains approximately 3000 books and several thousand manuscripts and letters, by or about Shaw. The Burgunder Collection covers all aspects of Shaw’s life and work with particular strength in the area of theatre. The collection was given to Cornell in 1956 by Bernard F. Burgunder, ’18. Burgunder began collecting Shaviana soon after his graduation, and continued to add to the collection until his death in 1986. The collection is still growing thanks to an endowment left to Cornell by Mr. Burgunder.

Shaw’s work in the theatre is well represented by a range of material in the collection including rehearsal notes, prompt books, play manuscripts, production photographs, broadsides, posters, and programs. Highlights include a shorthand manuscript draft of Getting Married, the promptbook for the original production of Arms and the Man with manuscript revisions, and Shaw’s rehearsal notes for numerous productions including Heartbreak House, You Never Can Tell, and John Bull’s Other Island. Shaw’s theatrical correspondence includes letters to many directors and actors including Lady Gregory, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Viola Tree, Syndey Carroll, and H.K. Ayliff. The book collection contains hundreds of editions of Shaw’s plays, as well as numerous proof and rehearsal copies.

The collection also has notable holdings in areas other than theatre. Personal items include oil portraits of Shaw’s paternal grandparents, his address book, an early love letter to Shaw still containing pressed flowers, and his personal motoring file. Shaw work outside the theatre is documented by extensive holdings of his political and critical writings, newspaper clippings which include articles on his many speeches and lectures, as well as related correspondence.

The majority of the books in the Burgunder collection can be accessed on-line in the Cornell Library Catalog. Manuscripts and letters are cataloged individually and are listed in the card catalog in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. Visit the Research Guide to such materials.

A printed catalog for the 1997 exhibition entitled “The Instinct of an Artist”: Shaw and the Theatre provides descriptions of many important items in the collection. It is available upon request from the Division of Rare and Manuscript, Kroch Library, Cornell University.

The Collection actively solicits materials for consideration and/or contribution. For information about contributing, please contact:

Katherine Reagan
Curator of Rare Books & Burgunder Curator for George Bernard Shaw
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
2B Carl A. Kroch Library
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

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