G.B. SHAW SPEAKS OUT ON THE UNAUTHORIZED USE OF HIS PLAYS: “YOU ARE COMMITTING THE BLACKEST CRIME POSSIBLE IN THEATRICAL BUSINESS…”
SHAW, GEORGE BERNARD. (1856-1950). Irish-born writer. Good Typed Letter Signed, “G. Bernard Shaw”, on his imprinted stationery. One full page, quarto. “10, Adelphi Terrace, London, W.C.”, April 6, 1911. Very fine condition. To “Mrs. Cunningham, 31, Powys Square, W.” Shaw writes:
“Dear Mrs. Cunningham, The best performance of Bompas I have seen was given by Mr. A.G. Poulton; but I do not know where he is at present, and cannot say anything as to his terms.
I am rather bewildered by all the paragraphs that have reached me. Your performance seems to me to be a regular professional one; and I have certainly not authorized anything of the kind. If you have simply procured an authorization for an amateur performance and are availing yourself of it to give a professional one, you are committing the blackest crime possible in theatrical business. As a matter of fact, I have received a very strong remonstrance from an actor who is negotiating with me for a production of “How He Lied”; and the negotiations will very probably fall through in consequence. I have no doubt you will go on since you are in so far, and I have no time to bother about it; but you really must not do these things. You might quite easily involve an author in a breach of contract involving very heavy damages. I may add that in nine cases out of ten, when only a single performance is contemplated, it is cheaper to obtain an authorization on professional than on amateur terms. Yours faithfully, G. Bernard Shaw”.
Finding Shaw commenting on any of his plays in a letter of this length and clarity, is a ‘find’ indeed!