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Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts
Stand
06

1936 Photograph Album - George Bernard Shaw

Irish Playwright

George Bernard Shaw on a Voyage Around the World

1936 Photograph Album - George Bernard Shaw

Irish Playwright 1936

Description

World Cruise, 1936. Album of photographs chronicling a comprehensive voyage around the world onboard the SS Arandora Star - the voyage taken by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, featuring two rare, original photographs of Shaw, and outstanding images of the places visited, taken by a passenger who was quite likely professional photographer. Contains 261 gelatin silver print photographs, the large majority with embedded numbers and manuscript captions, neatly mounted recto and verso onto 68 black cardstock leaves. Large Oblong 8vo. album measuring approximately 44 x 31 x 4 cm, black cloth boards, solid two-post binding with original wood braces. Photographs measure approximately 15,5 x 10,5 cm.

The SS Arandora Star was a luxury cruising vessel at the time, and earlier in the year had been refitted to accommodate 354 first class passengers (two hundred more in first class than previous).

One of the elite passengers on this voyage was the influential, candid, witty, and highly respected Irish playwright Bernard Shaw who is seen in two (2) photographs being interviewed by Miami journalists, and one (1) photograph on the approach to Hawaii where he lunched with Charlie Chaplin.

[The British Pathé, formerly Pathé News, holds an original film clip of the interview seen in these photographs.]

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic and polemicist whose influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. Since Shaw's death scholarly and critical opinion has varied about his works, but he has regularly been rated as second only to Shakespeare among British dramatists; analysts recognise his extensive influence on generations of English-language playwrights. Throughout his 58 years as a playwright, Shaw fictionalized many topics in a humorous way. He was a prolific writer, producing 25 major works, and won the 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature.

In the 1930s Shaw travelled widely and frequently, most often accompanied by his wife Charlotte. Charlotte especially enjoyed voyages on ocean liners, and he found peace to write during the long spells at sea. In December 1932 the couple embarked on their first round-the-world cruise. In March 1933 they arrived at San Francisco, to begin Shaw's first visit to the US. He had earlier refused to go to the United States of America, describing it as "that awful country, that uncivilized place... unfit to govern itself ... illiberal, superstitious, crude, violent, anarchic and arbitrary". He visited Hollywood, with which he was unimpressed, and New York, where he lectured to a capacity audience in the Metropolitan Opera House. Harried by the intrusive attentions of the press, Shaw was glad when his ship sailed from New York harbour. He used the weeks at sea to complete two plays, "The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles" and "The Six of Calais." He also began working on "The Millionairess." Shaw met an enthusiastic welcome in South Africa in 1932, despite his strong remarks about the racial divisions of the country. In 1936, Shaw and his wife indulged in a second world voyage, a voyage which is superbly documented in the present photograph album.

More about Shaw's voyage around the world:

The album is neatly composed and offers superior photographic views from a multitude of nationalities around the world. With his keen eye for capturing the essence of indigenous life in island nations and underdeveloped communities, the photographer presents striking scenes of the daily customs which distinguish the poor and rich, visiting places tranquil and lively, ancient and modern.

The high quality images throughout the album, each numbered, and all embedded captions being in the same hand, suggest that this album is the work of a professional photographer, perhaps hired by the Blue Line. Surely this voyage provided much for Shaw to ponder and write about, and perhaps aspects of it would be found in his prolific writings. He and his fellow passengers arrived in Spain at the dawn of the Spanish Revolution. Their visit to Jaffa came only a few months after "The Bloody Day in Jaffa," a riot that began on 19 April 1936, and being a violent attack by Arabs directed at the Jews, to rebel against British colonialism and the increase in Jewish immigration. [The event is often described as the catalyst to the 1936-39 Arab revolt in Palestine.]

Highlights in the Americas include views Manzanillo and Mazatlan in Mexico, principle cities in California, and Honolulu, where Bernard Shaw had lunch with Charlie Chaplin. Several photographs capture the tour of Honolulu, though none of the private lunch between Shaw and Chaplin on 26 February.

Online sources place Shaw (and the SS Arandora Star) at Tenerife in April. In Southeast Asia several other charming images show life in the tropics.

The Mediterranean portion of the voyage yields many indelible views from North Africa, showing the people and customs of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, coastal Libya and the Middle East. Nostalgic views show Tripoli in Libya 75 years prior to the revolutionary civil war, although at the time under Italian rule. The passengers were at Freetown in Sierra Leone on Armistice Day, November 11th, attending a memorial service illustrated with six photographs. Several photographs were taken there before crossing the Atlantic to tour Colombia and cross the Panama Canal.

The following are some iconic customs illustrate in skilled snapshots:
• the Sultan of Morocco's cavalry guards surrounding his palace at Rabat
• a Hawaiian boy pounding taro root while another climbs high for coconuts
• traditional dancers in Bali
• Zulu war dancers
• devil dancers in Kandy (Sri Lanka)
• riverside dwellings and covered boats of Java
• women washing laundry and infants in the rivers of Batavia
• a spectacular Buddhist temple in Colombo
• a religious procession taking place in Ceylon

Some especially memorable personalities include:
• the elaborately costumed rickshaw driver in Durban
• the young Zulu mother carrying her infant on her back and a large vegetable on her head
• the woman of Tétouan in Morocco completely veiled by her stark white burka
• female market merchants in Tangier hidden in garment layers and wide hats
• a group of Hindu pilgrims from Colombia with pierced cheeks

Trades are being executed in the simplest manual form, in these and other views:
• caravan camels in Jaffa and in Jerusalem transport innumerable boxes
• a Middle Eastern water carrier
• fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee
• fishing boats in a harbour at Abbazia (Opatija) in Croatia
• a handcrafted outrigger in Bali
• tall covered bullock wagons in Colombo,
• a bustling market in Sierra Leone
• open air barbers working alongside a wall in Acapulco
• busy streets flanked with merchants in Tangier
• markets in Kairouan and Tunis
• a modest market place in Guatemala City
• a veritable mountain of peanuts being packed into large sacs at Dakar in Senegal
• bakers selling bread in Tangier
• basket balancing merchants in Batavia
• a coal merchant in Mazatlan

In contrast, a few scenes show commercialized sectors of the Western world, such as:
• the Chinese telephone exchange in San Francisco
• the business center of Cristóbal in Panama
• the Signal Hill oil field in Los Angeles
• Hollywood Boulevard
• pristinely dressed civilians strolling the Ramblas in Barecelona

Antiquity is seen at Athens, Pompeii, Cairo and Lisbon, and also in the haunting photographs of the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo where corpses were preserved and displayed from the 16th century to as late as the 1920s.

A single photograph commemorates the 1936 People's Olympiad, an event which was to be hosted in Barcelona, and conceived as a protest event against the 1936 Summer Olympics being held in Berlin. With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, just as the games were to begin, the Barcelona event was hastily cancelled.

SS Arandora Star was a British Steam passenger ship, built in 1927 by Cammell Laird & Co, Birkenhead, for the Blue Star Line. Originally an ocean liner and refrigerated cargo ship, operating on a fortnightly service between the UK and River Plate, by December 1928 the ship had completed eight round-trips and was selected for a cruising role. She was soon converted, in 1929 into a fine cruise ship, her home port being Southampton. She carried travellers to Norway, Iceland, Java, Malaya, Ceylon, Egypt, South Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Mediterranean Seas. A very popular vessel, with her white hull and scarlet "ribbon", she was often referred to as the "chocolate box" or the "wedding cake". In 1936, Arandora Star would undergo had another refit, this time having her Mainmast removed and her accommodation extended to the Poop. She could now accommodate 354 First Class Passengers. In 1937, ownership was transferred to Frederick Leyland & Company Limited, with Blue Star Line Limited as Managers. The ship was by this time re-classified and registered. She was requisitioned as a troop ship in World War II and in June 1940 she was assigned the task of transporting German and Italian internees and prisoners of war to Canada. On 2 July 1940 she was sunk in controversial circumstances by a German U-boat and 865 lives were lost.

Pathé News was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 until 1970 in the United Kingdom. Its founder, Charles Pathé, was a pioneer of moving pictures in the silent era. The Pathé News archive is known today as British Pathé. Its collection of news film and movies is fully digitised and available online today.

Current Condition

Wear and age-toning to boards, otherwise in Very Good Condition.

Price

£1050.00