[ Bernard Shaw ] Cyclostyled (or similar) Typed Letter with printed addresser "(signed) G. Bernard Shaw" to Daniel Jones, phonetician, though by some to be "the basis for [...] Professor Higgins in Pygmalion", about Simplified English.

George Bernard Shaw, playwright
Publication details: 
"From Bernard Shaw | 4 Whitehall Court (130) London SW1", 1 January 1947.
SKU: 22182

Found with some letters from Shaw to Gilbert Murray, classicist, so presumed to have been sent by Shaw to Murray. Two pages, folio, fold marks, four small closed tears, edge a little damaged, text complete and clear. Marked "Copy" in typescript, but no other physical copy has yet been traced. A version of the text may be found ( headed "George Bernard Shaw: A Colossal Labour Saving | An Open Letter, May 1947" - no mention of Daniel Jones) in "Imagining Language: an Anthology" (MIT, 2001) in Googlebooks, but has substantial textual differences. (The occasional run of dots in "Imagining" indicates some exclusion, but my examples (all from the initial paragraphs) are textual change or decisive addition.) For example, l.3 of the text in "Imagining Language" runs "perverse indifference to hard fact" while the "Copy" has "perverse shirking of the facts". Or l.5 in "Imagining", "To spell phonetically within the limits of a 26 letter alphabet is impossible" while "Copy" (l.4) runs, "It is at best a miserable compromise, as every attempt to spell phonetically within the limits of a 26 letter alphabet must be." But it's not only the language that is changed. Drawing an example from the first paragraph of the "Copy" again, Shaw says, "The only question is whether we should retain the old 26 letters and give each of them a single value, or design a new and entirely distinct 44 letter alphabet. That question must remain open for the moment." The two texts read as different works with much in common, and can only be considered relatives not immediate family. Shaw's name as signatory in "Copy" is followed by Daniel Jones's address, and two Postscripts (not in "Imagining Language"), one concerning his urging the Minister of Education to teach children to spell phonetically (idea rejected trenchantly) and the parallel with money. He concludes, "Show all this to I.P. before you bother about seeing me. At 90 I am obsolete anyhow." Note: "In Britain, the cause of spelling reform was promoted from 1908 by the Simplified Spelling Society and attracted a number of prominent supporters. One of these was George Bernard Shaw (author of Pygmalion) and much of his considerable will was left to the cause."