Extracts from Bernard Shaw, The Diaries 1885-1897; edited & annotated by Stanley Weintraub; The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1986. Two volumes, 1239 pages. This web page only has extracts from Vol.2, from 1891 - see separate page for Volume 1.
These extracts are items of interest to vegetarians - follow the link to amazon.com on the right for the full volumes. It appears to be currently out of print and only used copies are available.
There were almost daily references to restaurants visited, showing that Shaw seems to have had no problem finding vegetarian food in London, where there were dozens of vegetarian restaurants - his only real problems were in Italy. He made very frequent visits to several vegetarian restaurants, detailed below, and to many other restaurants and cafes of varying quality, but never any mention of any problems with them.
However his reports of the food he eats would not be considered too healthy today - lots of eggs (fried/omelette/egg salad), cheese (macaroni cheese seemed to be his staple diet, plus bread & cheese), milk (often in cocoa), cream, butter, chocolate, sweets, toffee, barley-sugar, ginger beer, lemonade (all with plenty of sugar no doubt), unspecified soup - with occasional mentions of fruit, nuts, brown bread, porridge, cake, buns; plus very rare mentions of mushrooms, lentils, rice, etc. Hopefully he ate vegetables/beans etc. as well, but never mentioned them...
There are many references to meetings with other vegetarians, these are linked in green where they first appear.
- notes in (regular type) are by the editor of the diaries. Notes in [italic] are by the editor of this web page.
1891 [Shaw's main activities in 1891 were an endless round of concerts, for writing reviews, and Fabian meetings. He gave Fabian lectures in various parts of the UK and took a holiday in Italy. Much time was spent in the company of Florence Farr Emery (FE in the diaries), whilst trying to avoid the attentions of Jenny Patterson.]
6. to the [vegetarian] restaurant in Buckingham St., where we had tea. [this veg restaurant was mentioned three times over the next few weeks, and again later.]
9. Went up to Salt's in the evening. [Henry Salt, a well known vegetarian/animal rights activist friend. During 1891 Salt moved out of town, to Oxted in Surrey. Shaw and Salt met frequently in London and Shaw spent several long weekends at Oxted over the next few years]
10. . . . we dined at the Porridge Bowl together. [vegetarian restaurant in Holborn, first mentioned in 1885, Shaw ate there a few times during the year.]
27. . . . had tea together at the Aerated Bread Shop at the corner of Parliament Square. [The Aerated Bread Shop had several branches around London and Shaw frequently visited them. Others were described as: next to Charing Cross Station, in Oxford Circus, in Piccadilly Circus, opposite St. Clement Danes Church. Shaw reported consuming cocoa, eggs and milk there]
30. Dinner at Orange Grove [vegetarian restaurant at 27, St. Martin's Lane, - Shaw was a very frequent visitor, dining there at least 38 times in 1891 - but towards the end of the year he was favouring the new Wheatsheaf]
11. . . . we met at dinner at the Pine Apple, . . . [another vegetarian restaurant, at Oxford Circus, Shaw was an occasional visitor, 3 or 4 times this year]
4. . . . hurried off to dine at the Central restaurant . . . [this was the well-known vegetarian restaurant in Farringdon St., near the Memorial Hall which was the base of the Fabian Society, many of whom were also vegetarians. Shaw probably ate there so often that it was not usually mentioned separately, just part of his very frequent 'to the Fabians'. The London Vegetarian Society was also based in the Memorial Hall, but Shaw had significant differences with their president, Arnold Hills, and had little to do with them. At some point - apparently July 30 below - he joined the rival national Vegetarian Society based in Manchester.
Another frequent visitor to the Central at this time was a 21 year old Indian, M. K. Gandhi, who was then on the committee of the London VegSoc, returning to India in April. He is not mentioned in Shaw's diaries as he was just an unknown law student, but they would have been acquainted, and they renewed the acquaintance when the then famous Gandhi came back to London in 1931. Gandhi stated in his autobiography that it was reading one of Henry Salt's books at the Central that persuaded him of the value of vegetarianism in its own right, aside from his religion. Salt sat next to him at the LVS in 1931.]
7. Crystal Palace Concert . . . 3rd Act Tanhäuser. [Shaw was a huge fan of Wagner, and his original decision to become vegetarian was probably influenced by Wagner's writings. He wrote a favourable review of this Wagner concert and attended many others with mixed reviews.]
21. Dinner at the new Wheatsheaf, Rathbone Place
(The Wheatsheaf was under new management, Shaw had taken his business elsewhere when the quality declined.) [the Wheatsheaf, again vegetarian, became an increasingly frequent haunt during the second half of the year, Shaw ate there at least 33 times]
11. Leonard Borwick's recital at St. James Hall. [Leonard Borwick was a vegetarian classical pianist, who was favourably reviewed by Shaw at other times, but he did not make it to this recital or to the next one a week later]
17. Sunday. Go up to Salts' to tea at 18 and go with H.S. [Henry Salt] to his paper on Shelley at the Anarchist place. . . [Percy Bysshe Shelley was the vegetarian poet, Salt wrote a couple of books about him later]
23. Glasenapp's Wagner Encyclopaedia
15/- [15 shillings].
18. Massingham called about Bayreuth [Wagner Festival in Bavaria, Germany]. Eventually he decided to come; and we went off in search of tickets. [extensive searching described] Went to Sonntags' after tea. [Shaw had been taking German lessons from Sonntag for several weeks. He was clearly determined about going back to Bayreuth, having been there in 1889, but didn't get there again until three years later]
27. Read a couple of Schopenhauer books which I bought to send to FE. Schopenhauer's Aphorisms, 2 vols. [Schopenhauer, the German philosopher, argued for animal rights, and was a strong influence on Wagner]
30. Subscription to the Vegetarian Society (my 1st) 2/6 [two shillings and sixpence. Unfortunately he doesn't say which VegSoc, but presumably Manchester as we only know of him joining that one and he doesn't specify London]
13/14 [further attempts to get Bayreuth tickets but none available].
15. Read a number of anti-vivisection tracts sent to me by Miss Cobbe. (Miss Francis Power Cobbe, 1822-1904, founder and secretary, 1875-1884, of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, and the author of books on Unitarianism, Darwin, and women's issues.)
19. Meet the Salts at Victoria and go down to Oxted by the 14.35 train. [Description of walks across the common and into the village with Henry Salt and others]
20. [description a wet day out in the country] When we got back a telegram came from Edward Carpenter to say that he was coming at 20. He came, pretty wet. [Edward Carpenter, 1844–1929, was an English socialist poet, anthologist, early gay activist, and socialist philosopher - and another vegetarian activist]
10. Go to the meeting of the Blavatsky Lodge of the Theosophical Society at 19 Avenue Rd. 8.30. Had a talk with Mabel Besant at the meeting in the evening. [Mabel was the daughter of Annie Besant - Shaw had been very close to Annie for some years, she had recently become a prominent theosophist, and a vegetarian like most theosophists.]
16-Oct 4. [on holiday trip to Italy] (Shaw's experience of Italian hotel food was catastrophe, as even the macaroni was doused with meat gravy. Finally Thomas Oakey hit upon the expedient of going to the head-waiter at each hotel (so he wrote in A basketful of Memories, London, 1930) to explain that one of their number was "under a vow." This was immediately understood, and Shaw was fed "as a devout Catholic under a vow to abstain from flesh, wine, and tobacco.")
11. Meeting of Shelley Society to discuss Centenary Celebration, University College. 20. [Shaw put this in the dairy, but did not attend]
1892 [another year of music reviews and political meetings, but also becoming increasingly involved with both writing and reviewing drama, and writing his novel. Wagner concerts still featuring where ever Shaw could fit them in. Also the very frequent visits to the veggie restaurants - the Orange Grove, Wheatsheaf, Pine Apple, Aerated Bread Shop and Central all featuring as last year. And more socialising with Henry Salt.]
13. Meet [Henry] Salt at the Wheatsheaf at 14 and go on with him to see G. W. Foote about the proposed Shelley celebration. Postponed.
21. Karl Armbruster lectures on the Bayreuth Festival at the London Institute 18. [Shaw wrote a review of the lecture]
24. read Schopenhauer in the train
10. Was commissioned by the Shelley Committee to take a in hand business of getting a cast for the performance of The Cenci. [Shelley's play which was banned from public performance as it was about incest, they were planning a private showing. Much letter writing followed in the next few days]
18. Reading Praeger's life of Wagner for review - much caught by it. [the review described it as 'vivid and convincing']
20. Spent the [train to Oxford] journey trying to compose a few verses to put into a copy of The Quintessence [Shaw's new book on Ibsen] for Mabel Besant [Annie Besant's daughter]
9-11. Shelley Society. Cenci Committee. University College. Miss Burney to recite Beatrice (Cenci) [followed by two days Cenci readings with Florence Farr, Henry Salt etc]
4. Cenci Committee. Aerated Bread Shop, Rathbone Place [the next few days saw more meetings and letter writing about The Cenci both at Oxted and in London]
4. Went down to Oxted by the 17 train. I found the Salts expected [Edward] Carpenter. [He arrived the next day and they went on various country walks]
12. Sunday. After dinner I went to FE. Met Cecil Sharp on the way there. I had not seen him since he used to be at Barton's on Saturday evenings years ago. [Cecil Sharp, 1859-1924, became famous from around 1902 as a collector of folk songs and dance. He also became a vegetarian at some point, but unclear when. The Fabian Society later used his folk collections for entertainment at their summer schools.].
25. Shelley Commemoration Dinner. Wheatsheaf Restaurant. Rathbone Place. 18. - I did not go to the Wheatsheaf until 19. Spoke after the "Banquet". Then hurried off to the meeting at Burton Crescent... ("A Feast for Faddists," Pall Mall Gazette, 27 June 1892. "Mr. Bernard Shaw regretted that Shelley's artistic excellence, now beyond question, overshadowed his importance as a leader of thought.")
13. Götterdämerung at Covent Garden. [The last of a series of five Wagner operas. Shaw reviewed the four from the Ring Cycle, having been unable to get a ticket for Tristan. He apparently attached little importance to the relatively unknown conductor - Gustav Mahler - on loan from the Hamburg Opera, and would have been unaware of 17 year old Gustav Holst in the audience, mesmerised by his first hearing of Wagner.]
14. Cenci scenes, Bedford Park Club. [This appears to be as near as they got to a performance]
15. Wrote notice of The Cenci for The Chronicle ("A Shelley Celebration," Daily Chronicle, 16 July 1892)
20. I read for review Ellis's Vindication of Wagner's part in the rising of 1849. (Part of G.B.S.'s music column for 3 August would be a review of William Ashton Ellis's Wagner-Sketches. 1848: A Vindication. " "To me Wagner's conduct needs no apology, since it is plain that every man who is not a Pangloss is bound to be in a state of incessant revolutionary activity all his life long if he wants to leave things better than he finds them."
3. Wrote puffs of Shelley affair and sent them off to Star and Chronicle. (Only The Star printed his piece, as "Shelley's Birthday," 4 August 1892.)
4. Speak at Shelley Celebration at the Hall of Science. Shelley Celebration at Horsham. . . . back to town with Salt. Salt and I went to the Hall of Science. (In London, Shaw, according to Henry Salt's memoirs, "convulsed the audience by his description of the Horsham apologetics of local dignitaries trying to whitewash Shelley's character." The Shelley Celebration was ironically described in "Shaming the Devil About Shelley," The Albermarle, September 1892.)
6. Worked so hard at the article on Shelley for The Albermarle in the train [to Marple, near Manchester] that I felt quite sick during the last 15 minutes of the journey. . . . [completed and sent over the next few days]
23. a letter to The Star about vivisection
7. Shelley Celebration at South Place Chapel. Paper by H. S. Salt. [noted in diary, didn't go but met Salt during the day]
8. Cecil Sharp's first Tuesday afternoon lecture on Bach and Beethoven, 5 Langham Chambers, W. All Souls Place [Shaw noted this, and the following six in the weekly series, but didn't go to any of them]. Meeting of the Humanitarian League [run by Salt] at the Wheatsheaf, Rathbone Place. Rev. J. Stratton on "Stag Hunting" and Col. Coulson on "Rabbit Coursing" [he didn't go to that either]
13. Ashton Ellis at the Musical Association on "Wagner's Prose Writings." Royal Academy of Music. . . . at which I spoke . . .
1893 [More of the music reviews, but a lot more drama now coming in, his own first play having been produced the previous year. Slightly fewer references to Florence Farr, and more about May Sparling (William Morris's daughter). References to sitting separately from others because they were smoking. More Wagner concerts and playing Wagner piano transcriptions. Otherwise much as before.]
19. Dinner at Hygeian [the first mention of what the name suggests was a vegetarian restaurant, presumably a new one.]
8. Read Hills on Vegetarianism for review on the train. (No review of Arnold Frank Hills's pamphlets for the London Vegetarian Society was published.) [Shaw did not have much in common with Hills, a devout Christian and builder of warships, so he was probably being diplomatic in not reviewing it] Began review of Wagner's prose works for the Chronicle. [this review, of Ashton Ellis as above, did appear as "Wagner - At Last!"]
7. Mrs. Besant Lectures at the National Liberal Club on "What can be done by politics and what cannot." [Shaw went to this one, by his old friend Annie Besant, becoming increasingly prominent as a leading vegetarian theosophist]
23. Sunday. Lecture at the Lotus Club on "Socialism and Human Nature." Mrs. Besant in the chair. The lecture was a ghastly affair. When it was over I went to Avenue Rd. with Mrs. Besant and Mrs. Thornton Smith and sat at their supper.
30. Met Cecil Sharp on my way to lecture at Deptford. He introduced me to his fiancee.
1. T. A. Wallworth's lecture on "Wagner's Influence on Singing," Trinity College.
(reviewed on 14 June 1893. To G.B.S. it was "a very remarkable lecture."Wallworth, a singer as well as a musicologist, illustrated his points vocally.)
5. Dinner at Hygeian, since Wheatsheaf now closed. [Shaw mentioned dining at the Wheatsheaf several times after he had started going to the Hygeian in January. The Hygeian now became his default eatery, along with several of his friends, including the Salts when they were in town, though he still used all the other veg restaurants at times.]
14. Annual Meeting of the Anti-Vivisection Society. St. James Banquetting Hall. [noted, but didn't attend]
1. Art and Literature Dinner at the Mansion House. - Left the Mansion House with Norman, with whom I walked to Blackfriars. I could not eat; my feelings as a musician and vegetarian were too much for me; and save for some two or three pounds of ice pudding I came away empty. (G.B.S. wrote "The City has not yet discovered that music is an art.") [This was a very rare example of Shaw not finding acceptable vegetarian food in London.]
18. Bought some nuts and a pair of nutcrackers. [Shaw's first mention of eating nuts, they are mentioned again later, making use of the new nutcrackers that he seemed to carry around with him.]
20. Take the chair for Mrs. Mallett at the Humanitarian League [founded by Henry Salt]. Made a speech in the chair at Mrs. Mallett's meeting. The Salts were there.
23. I strolled about the west end of Oxford St. looking for a vegetarian restaurant, and at last found one after going to the Marble Arch and returning on a bus in my search. Dinner at "Grosvenor". [Even Shaw didn't know all of them whilst in an unfamiliar area of the city - though the fact that he expected to find one shows how common they were.]
5. Plunkett Greene and Leonard Borwick recital, St. James's Hall. - I quite forgot the Plunkett Greene concert and worked complacently at the [Fabian] Manifesto. [Leonard Borwick was a vegetarian pianist, on this occasion accompanying Greene, a singer who was his regular partner.]
21. Called on Ashton Ellis, the translator of Wagner's prose works, and borrowed from him Georges Noufflar's book to read down in Wales and write a World article about. (Georges Noufflard's Richard Wagner d'après lui-même, Paris, 1893, reviewed on 17 January 1894 to fill a G.B.S. music column, most of which had been written while the critic was on holiday.)
24. [at the Orange Grove] They gave me the Salts' address at Lafone St.; and I went there and found Miss Joynes and [Edward] Carpenter there. We then walked along the embankment with Carpenter. [Henry and Kate Salt appear to had a temporary address in London, they were still living in Oxted and Shaw was there for his usual long weekend a few weeks later.]
25. a letter from Ashton Ellis telling me I might review his translation of Oper und Drama just received, in next week's World. (A review of Richard Wagner's Opera and Drama in the Ellis translation appeared as part of the 14 February 1894 G.B.S. column, The World.)
19. called on Ashton Ellis and borrowed Wagner's Eine Kapitulation [a satirical play] from him.
11. Sunday. Lectuer for the Hammersmith Socialist Society, Kelmscott House, on "Progress in Socialist ideas". [At William Morris's home. Notable as it was probably the first meeting between Shaw and Gustav Holst.]
17. Wagner concert conducted by Mottl at Queen's Hall. (The Wagner concert was reviewed by G.B.S. on 25 April 1894. It was the first appearance of Felix Mottl, 1856-1911, in England. He had conducted the first season of Ring performances at Bayreuth. G.B.S. applauded his skills.) [Shaw was considerably reducing his music criticism work now that his play 'Arms and the Man' was achieving success. But he still found time for Wagner concerts and mentions several more in the diary.]
12. Leonard Borwick's recital. St. James's Hall (Although Borwick "cannot play Beethoven", his playing of Chopin was "really worth hearing.")
30. Tristan and Isolde at Drury Lane. [One of Shaw's last reviews - by this time he might have known that Gustav Holst was again in the audience, and according to one of Holst's biographers he 'walked all night through the streets of London with his mind in a whirl']
1. Sunday. Call for Edward Carpenter at 38 Gloucester Rd. N.W. at about 15. [3.00pm]
16-26. Bayreuth [he had some tickets for the Wagner Festival at last.] 19. Parsifal; 20. Lohengrin, first performance at Bayreuth; 22. Tanhauser; 23. Parsifal. [His reviews of Bayreuth for 'The World' marked the end of his work as a music critic.]
27. Lunch with Grant Allen at the Saville Club. ("Can they feed a vegetarian?" Shaw asked Allen about his club.)
1-20 [staying with the Salts' at their new location in Tilford, Surrey. He went back again the next weekend for a few more days. He then rehearsed a new production 'Arms and The Man in London and set off for a holiday in Italy in September.]
19. [Italy] (Among the sculpture at Genoa we came upon a realistic representation in marble, by a famous Italian artist, of [William] Jenner vaccinating a girl's arm. As Shaw's eyes met the figure a thrill of horror and indignation shook his frame. . . ." - remembered by Thomas Okey) [like many vegetarians at that time Shaw was staunchly anti-vaccination.]
October [with the end of his music criticism Shaw now wrote little in the diary other than coming engagements]
16. Lecture at the Church and Stage Guild on "Parsifal" at Headlam's.
5. (With his first American royalties from Arms and the Man, he suddenly discovered that he had a need, for the first time in his life, to open a bank account).
15. Read Candida (Shaw would begin a round of readings of Candida to interested friends, a means of trying out the impact of his lines. According to Henry Salt in Company I have Kept, at one of these readings, unrecorded in the diaries but held "on a winter evening in 1894, "Shaw read the play to a group in Salt's London rooms, with Edward Carpenter expostulating unprophetically at the close, "No Shaw. It won't do.")
1895 [Shaw took up a new post as Theatre Critic for The Saturday Review. The diary is still little more than advance events - but he now has an increasing number of speaking engagements.]
28. Humanitarian Leaugue Conference, St. Martin's Hall. (I went and delivered speeches at the Humanitarian Conference; partook of a dinner with the Humanitarians, made another speech.) [from a later letter].
1. Humanitarian League Conference. Afternoon, Slaughter House Reform, Evening Cruel Sports. [Shaw went to the afternoon session, but then to the Fabians in the evening]
25. Speak at Annual Meeting of the Humanitarian League, 32 Sackville St.
14. Speak at a meeting of the London Vegetarian Society at the Memorial Hall (Miss F. I. Nicholson) [a very rare event. Some time after this the LVS published an article about Shaw, whom they had largely ignored until then.]
29. Speak at the meeting of the Independent Anti Vivisection League, St. Martin's Hall.
11. Speak on "Dress" for "The Healthy and Artistic Dress Union". [The health aspects of reforming Victorian dress were an increasing concern of vegetarians, with Shaw taking a particular interest via Dr. Jaeger. See Dress Reform and Naturism]
6. Women's Vegetarian Union at the Pioneer Club 4.30 to 6.30 [founded the previous March]
10. Humanitarian League Lecture on "Rights of Man and Animals" [listed in the diary, but it appears that Shaw missed this one, probably due to a close friend's illness.]
25. Revival of [Dion Boucicault's[ The Colleen Bawn, at the Princess's Theatre. (Reviewed on 1 February 1896. "I regret to say," G.B.S. added, "that the patrons of the gallery at the Princess's, being admitted at half the usual west end price, devote the saving to the purchase of sausages to throw at the critics. I appeal to the gentleman or lady who successfully aimed one at me to throw a cabbage next time, as I am a vegetarian, and sausages are wasted on me."
12. [from a report of a review] (. . . patronized by ladies in "huge towering hats, piled up, for more effectual obstruction of the view, with every conceivable futility, vulgarity and brutality (in the dead bird line). . . "
19. [in Bayreuth again] Das Rheingold. 20. Die Walkure. 21. Sigfried.23. Die Gotterdamrung [Shaw reviewed all this for The Star - saying he was disappointed - though that didn't stop him going back again af ew years later.]
Shaw's diaries had been gradually decreasing for some time and from here on consisted simply of notes about theatres and Fabian events. He stopped completely by mid-1897. There was an attempt to start again in 1917, but it only lasted for ten days.