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The Collections – Special Collections

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The Dan Laurence Collection

Shaw's library label (JPG – 4kb)

Shaw's library label

The Library acquired the Dan H. Laurence/Shaw Collection in 1986. Professor Laurence, a noted Shaw bibliographer and editor, served as the literary and dramatic advisor to both the Estate of George Bernard Shaw, London (1973-90), and the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake. He assembled this remarkable collection over a period of almost 35 years in the course of his work on his two volume Shaw bibliography and his extensive research on Shaw and his writings.

B. Shaw, Cashel Byron's Profession book cover (JPG – 11kb)

B. Shaw, Cashel Byron's Profession book cover

The Laurence Collection is an outstanding resource for works on Bernard Shaw: it contains printed and audio-visual materials for virtually all aspects of Shaw's artistic, intellectual and public activities. There are books (many first editions or major revisions); pamphlets; programs (many for world premieres); flyers; broadsides; proof and rehearsal copies of plays; posters; reviews and articles; photographs; stereotyped postcards; postage stamps; lecture handbills; platform cards and syllabi; and vertical files. In addition, although manuscripts are not a focus for acquisition, there are forty rough-proof copies of plays.

All the essential bibliographical tools required to study Shaw are readily available. The original typescripts, collation sheets, galley and page proofs of Professor Laurence's Bernard Shaw: a Bibliography (1983) and his correspondence with many other scholars relating to it are also available.

The Laurence Collection features a number of scarce and unique items: there are several Fabian Tracts written by Shaw including proof copies; a circular seeking support for the licensing of Mrs. Warren's Profession; forty rehearsal copies of Fanny's First Play; a proof of The Apple Cart; several Shaw Society publications (including the Bulletin from 1943-52); and photographs of Shaw in the 1940s by Yousuf Karsh. Periodicals include publications by the Shaw societies in London, Japan, New York, America, Ireland, and Canada. All known phonograph recordings of Shaw's voice and of his plays and prefaces are in the collection.

B. Shaw, Pygmalion book cover (JPG – 8kb)

B. Shaw, Pygmalion book cover

Professor Laurence's extensive publications and research files available for study include his major works such as Shaw's Collected Letters; Collected Plays with their Prefaces; Shaw's Music; Shaw, Lady Gregory and the Abbey, a Correspondence and a Record. As well, there are more than two hundred vertical files covering many aspects of Shaw's writing, life, and interests.

The entire collection has continued to grow since the original deposit — Professor Laurence adds gifts to it — thus making it a comprehensive, up-to-date source for scholarly study on Shaw and a wonderful complement to the Shaw Festival Archives also housed in Archival and Special Collections.

B. Shaw, Sporting Life book cover (JPG – 6kb)

B. Shaw, Sporting Life book cover

All the Dan H. Laurence/Shaw Collection — more than 3,000 — are searchable through the Library's catalogue, Primo. Records can be emailed, sorted, or printed. Specific vertical file materials can be consulted using a finding aid. For assistance, or to arrange a research session, please contact library staff.

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