Corner, Ayot St Lawrence - Katy Lewis
I have been going to Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence, the former
home of playwright George Bernard Shaw, since I was quite small.
My grandmother was brought up in that area and it has always felt
like I am somehow going back to my roots.
garden looks out over the Hertfordshire countryside
to be fascinated by her tales of talking over the fence to the white
haired old gentleman but it wasn't until secondary school that I
realised exactly who she was talking about and how privileged she
later on when I was at university I used to head up there to escape
the stress of revision but still feel like I was working. After
all, if I was at the place where some of the work that I was studying
was written, it would help me wouldn't it?! Well, it worked for
study Shaw until I did Pygmalion for O'level but since then his
work has had a profound effect on the way that I think. But his
work hasn't neccessarily told me WHAT to think, but HOW to think.
not always agree with his politics - after all, it's easy to be
a socialist when you live in a nice house isn't it? But his work
gives me the confidence to challenge things. And going to the place
where he lived and being where he thought what he did gives me both
inspiration and the courage of my convictions.
garden provided peace for writing and now does the same for
Shaw has taught me to question what is considered to be accepted
opinion and to strip away the layers of society to uncover and challenge
has allowed me to be a true individual unafraid to speak up for
what I believe is right and not to simply follow the crowd when
I can see that it is the wrong path for me.
Corner is presented to the public just as it was when he lived there
and the attention to detail is amazing. When you are in the house
it feels like he is still there and has just popped out for a walk.
It really is the living shrine that he wanted.
me this reinforces the fact that he existed and if he wasn't afraid
to express himself then neither am I.
statue of St Joan watches over visitors
three and a half acre garden is beautiful and very quiet and being
deep in the Hertfordshire countryside there are also good views
of the surrounding area. Shaw's writing hut is still at the bottom
and it is easy to see how this garden provided the perfect retreat
for him to write inspirational works.
moved there in 1906 in order to be near to London but at the same
time get some peace and quiet. And being so close to nature certainly
helps to put things in perspective.
is the perfect place to be able to walk or sit and think or just
get some peace. I don't think I will ever stop going there.
Denny, Oakland, CA - USA
10-Aug-2003 18:06:06 BST
a wonderful tour you've let me in on! After reading a slew of
Shaw writings and one biography, your story with its tour was
a treasure to stumble on ... though I doubt Shaw's ghost is
pleased you have shown us his old clothes and his toilet.
Ariagno, Toronto, Canada
29-Jul-2003 03:43:35 BST
Lewis has written a fine article on the beauty and importance
of Shaw's Corner. But I choose to differ as to her criticism
of his socialism. I do not wish to deny her the right to insert
her true opinion but an anti-socialist comment seems to be obligatory
these days when talking of old socialist writers like Wells,
the Webbs or even Chesterton. Shaw's ideas on socialism and
true democracy, as distinct from what we call democracy, are
timeless. Of course the Fabian Society, of which he was a leading
member, did not have the benefit of what we have subsequently
learned. But all in all they were more right than contemporary
thought is today. In the interim big money interests have grown
to dominate public opinion in everything from university campuses
to community newspapers. People have been led to believe that
socialism is bad but if hard pressed few would be able to !
justify their opinions. Money interests have thrown a blanket
over true public debate by dictating in direct and indirect
ways what can be said on the issue. I do not know what the future
holds but Shaw will always be a god to many of us in the two
spheres that he dominated in his lifetime - the theatre and
fabian socialism. And the ideas in both will never die.