Virtual Tour of the Isidor Saslav Shaw Collection

Welcome to the Virtual Tour of Shaw Scholar, Isidor Saslav’s private collection!


Isidor Saslav, Director of String Studies at Stephen F. Austin State University, ret.,  began the collection in 1960 while a student at Wayne State University in Detroit with the purchase of a first edition of Shaw’s first play, Widowers Houses (1893).  From that time up to the present Dr. Saslav and his family have added to the collection until it has reached its present size of approximately 8,000 itemsBy comparison the gargantuan Shaw holdings at the University of Texas at Austin’s Humanities Research Center are comprised of some 9,000 items.

Besides books, which include first editions, collected editions, and bibliographies, the collection features Shaw autograph postcards and letters, magazines, both individual and in extended runs, movie and radio scripts, photos, caricatures, videos, cassettes and LPs of theatrical productions and musicals, stamps, theatrical and movie posters and placards, and much ephemera including pamphlets, theater programs (many of original productions), proof copies, cigarette cards, etc.

Reflected strongly in the collection is Shaw’s many-sided career as playwright, producer/director, screen writer, novelist, and letter writer; as critic of books, art, music, theater, aesthetics, photography, and cinema; his pioneering work in British politics; religious and philosophical thought; philology and the development of the English language; his humanitarian crusades against vivisection and for vegetarianism; and other topics.

Besides Shaw himself the collection emphasizes the influences on him and his career; his circle of friends, collaborators, and associates; and those in field after field of endeavor whom he in turn influenced and assisted.  A naming of some of these figures and personalities, many of whom are represented strongly in the collection, would include William Morris, Henry George, William Archer, Henrik Ibsen, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, G.K. Chesterton, H. L. Mencken, Lady Gregory, Annie Horniman, Harley Granville- Barker, Antarctic explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Lawrence of Arabia, Joan of Arc, Gene Tunney, and many others; theatrical and movie personalities such as Katherine Hepburn, Gabriel Pascal, Danny Kaye, Sir Laurence Olivier, Wendy Hiller, Rex Harrison, Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn, Agnes de Mille, and many others.

Scholarly books on Shaw include strong representation of works by Stanley Weintraub, Michael Holroyd, Charles Carpenter, the late Dan H. Laurence, and many others, with whom Dr. Saslav has been in communication and interaction over the years, and who have assisted Dr. Saslav by advice and contribution in the building up of the collection.  In addition Dr, Saslav is a founding member of the International Shaw Society.  A uniquely  exhaustive sub-collection documenting Shaw’s visit to New Zealand in 1934 has also been created by Dr. Saslav for the collection thanks to his six years as concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.  An extensive selection of memorabilia from the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada is also part of the collection.

Aiding scholarly analysis of the collection is a database of information containing approximately 2,500 items, identifying the works and analyzing their relationship and relevance to the collection.  Dr. Saslav continues to update this database as the collection grows and will continue to curate the collection until the database is complete.

As stated above Dr. Saslav has been in communication and interaction with the Shaw scholarly community over the years and the results of Dr. Saslav’s researches are summarized in the list below:

We are grateful to Isidor Saslav for providing us access to his exclusive collection, and allowing the  SAGITTARIUS-ORION project to include virtual access to these rare Shaw texts. We are also grateful to Mr. David Saslav who took the videos for allowing the videos to be included.

A first look at some of the collections, which includes the foreign language section (a huge variety). Here, we see a number of fascimillies, study guides, CDs and even the original documents from some of the first Shaw Festivals at Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Here we see a chronologically arranged continuation of the primary collection above. The secondary collection continues from the 1980s, with an entire wall dedicated to the contents of Shaw literature during this time. Magazines and periodicals relevant to the collection and theatre are also seen here. Shaw was quite involved in these communities.

In room three, we begin to look into the private collection starting from as early back as the 1880’s. Many special edition volumes of Shaw’s works can be seen gathered on the shelves.

The private collections starts to move into the 60’s and the 70’s here. Also seen are the primary sources from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

In this video, we see the vast media collection. LP’s (wax records), VHS, CDs and are catalogued here. The cabinet of trivia and small items are filled with various trinkets and items related to Shaw. Posters from Shaw’s plays and exhibitions can be seen on the wall.

And finally, a last look at some of the bookshelves, packed with Shaw-related literature.

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