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National Trust, Shaw's Corner

National Trust

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Shaw’s Corner was the Arts and Crafts home for 44 years to the playwright, polemicist, and gadfly, George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950). He lived there with his wife Charlotte Payne-Townshend, whom he married in 1898, and wrote many of his major works in a secluded, revolving hut at the bottom of the garden that followed the arc of the sun’s light during the day. It was vested in the National Trust in 1944 (with Shaw retaining a life interest) and the contents, apart from documents specifically bequeathed to other institutions, were acquired under his will in 1950. The residue after tax of his £300,000 fortune was chiefly left in trust to research, institute, and finance the ‘Proposed British Alphabet’ of at least 40 letters, and the remainder in equal shares to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the British Museum, and the National Gallery of Ireland. As he intended, it is a ‘living shrine’, rather than a ‘dead museum’. The objects in the collection are the accumulation of a major literary figure with the mundane juxtaposed next to the exceptional. A Rodin bust is placed on a utilitarian bookcase; his 1938 Oscar for 'Pygmalion' is displayed amongst fountain pens and pocket watches; and The Bible sits next to Karl Marx’s 'Das Kapital'. Shaw sat for many artists and included here are painted portraits by William Rothenstein and Augustus John.

Ayot St Lawrence, near Welwyn, Hertfordshire AL6 9BX England

01438 820307

Before making a visit, check opening hours with the venue