George Bernard Shaw, famous playwright, was born in 1856 and died in November 1950. Throughout his life, he took photographs to record events and to express himself artistically. He said:
"If Velasquez were born today, he would be a photographer and not a painter."
In 1949, Helmut Gernsheim, engaged in producing a history of photography, submitted a series of questions to Shaw.
The typed questions and Shaw's handwritten answers are on display at the Ransom Center, along with a 1950 letter from Gernsheim, with handwritten reply by Shaw.
In his answers, Shaw writes that he is still actively taking photographs, something he has been doing for most of his life. He lists the different cameras he has used over the years. The beauty, strength and wit of the replies, written so near Shaw's death, are striking.
In the letter shown here (photographed with i-phone by Matt Spitzer), Gernsheim tries to get Shaw to agree to let Gernsheim look through Shaw's photos, to select some for Gernsheim's book on the history of photography:
Gernsheim pleads: "I won't disturb you in your work; in fact, you need not see me if you don't want to!"
Shaw says no:
"Quite out of the question. You would have to ransack the whole house: a week's hard work. They are not collected and catalogued. Keep off." [Signed, GBS 5/6/1950.]
From Gernsheim exhibit at the Ransom, through January 2, 2011.
Shaw's photographic legacy is being cataloged in the project, Man and Cameraman. Apparently, a great deal more than "a week's hard work."
[Shaw is famous for so many sayings; I invite you to leave your favorites in the comments]