These essays reveal fresh aspects of Bernard Shaw by examining his relationships with twelve interesting figures, both famous and unknown. How could Bernard Shaw have found anything to admire in Queen Victoria? Or in the passionate evangelical "General" William Booth of the Salvation Army? What possible connection could there be between Shaw, the passionate socialist, and the Tory Winston Churchill, who seemed to represent everything Shaw should have rejected and despised? In this book, Shaw scholar Stanley Weintraub explores the relationship between Shaw and twelve of his contemporaries, including Queen Victoria, Oscar Wilde, H.L. Mencken, James Joyce and Winston Churchill. Weintraub chooses these individuals as lenses through which to look at Shaw and also to look for ways in which their lives are illuminated by their often paradoxical relationships with Shaw. While Shaw never met Queen Victoria, his sovereign during the first 45 years of his life, the degree of her influence is apparent in Shaw's reference to himself in his ninth decade as "an old Victorian". Weintraub explores those in the literary world who interacted with Shaw, such as H.L.
Mencken, one of Shaw's earliest American fans, who turned against his hero at the peak of his transatlantic reputation, and James Joyce, who was loth to confesss his respect for his fellow Irishman. He also investigates the curious mutual admiration between Shaw and W.B. Yeats and Shaw's championing of Oscar Wilde despite the vast difference in their lifestyles. The investigation of each of these twelve relationships illuminates different facets of Shaw, from his pre-dramatist years in London to the close of his long life.