Shaw's pounds 18,000 thoughts on sex and cake letter sells for pounds 1 8,000
Thursday 03 December 1998
The buyer, who wished to remain anonymous, saw the sale advertised on the Internet and decided that the letter would make the perfect gift for his girlfriend's cake-baking mother.
The letter was discovered recently in a cupboard 104 years after Shaw wrote to Laura Ormiston Chant, a social reformer and campaigner against prostitution.
The two struck up a correspondence after he criticised her revelation that prostitutes were soliciting at a theatre in Leicester Square, London, which had prompted its closure.
In his letter of 17 November 1894 Shaw expressed sympathy for prostitutes, saying that he respected their trade "as I am bound to respect that lower depth of prostitution by which I have for so many years earned my own living: to wit, journalism".
He said that he would support a prostitutes' trade union and spoke of his high regard for sexual intercourse, condemning Victorian notions of purity and respectability.
"It is because you have idealised a certain line of conduct and branded every departure from it as impurity that the woman in the street must submit to be kicked and cuffed by the policeman," he said.
Revealing that his first affair had turned him into a "dangerous libertine", Shaw said: "I value the physical sensation of sexual intercourse about as highly as I value a piece of plum cake."
The letter was discovered at the family home of a descendant of Mrs Ormiston Chant. She had become a campaigner for social reform that eventually led to the first Children's Act after she realised that as a woman she had no legal rights over her children.
The selling price was originally estimated at pounds 800 to pounds 900 and later increased to pounds 2,000. A spokeswoman for the auctioneers, Bonham's, in London, said that the "quite unexpected" price of pounds 18,000 was the result of fierce bidding between two potential buyers.
The loser in the bidding war, who also wished to remain anonymous, last month purchased a miniature of Mrs Ormiston Chant and other papers found alongside the letter from Shaw.
- 1 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...