Object of the Month – Shaw’s working copy of Pygmalion

Pyg scan 1

Do you know where and when Eliza Doolittle, that gloriously be-hatted character immortalized by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady was created?

It was in the notebooks carried by Bernard Shaw as he traveled around the cathedral cities  of England in 1912, creating the character for the actress Mrs Patrick Campbell with whom Shaw was soon to embark on a fiery affair. The play opened in London in 1914 to great scandal – Eliza’s utterance of “not bloody likely” causing uproar in the stalls.

We are lucky enough to have here at Shaw’s Corner the playwright’s very own copy of the play, dating from the time of the tempestuous rehearsals, covered in his notes and drawings showing how that characters should move around the stage. Shaw spent a lot of time at the rehearsals, taking a very active role in the way that the play was directed – somewhat to the frustration of the official direction Herbert Beerbhom Tree (who had founded RADA a decade before) and Mrs Patrick Campbell – who stormed out of the theatre more than once!

Pyg scan 2 Pyg scan 3

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