PREFACE THE Stage Society wished to produce Esther Waters, but alas the vanity of man prompted the thought that it was beneath my dignity to submit the play to the judgment of the Committee, and so we found ourselves in an alley to which there seemed to be no outlet, until it occurred to me that I could not do better than to write to Bernard Shaw, and he sent me the following postcard in reply I have tried every possible way of bringing about the correct position, but it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than to get any sort of delicate nztance of manners into the head of a well-intentioned British committee. Whelens difficulty is that if he pledges himself to anything, his committee may throw him over. He knows by experience that a play has to be quite extraordinarily bad to obtain unanimous support. All our great achievements with Ibsen, Tolstoy, Tchekoff, C., have been scraped through by snatched divisions, and majorities of one at that. An exquisite play by Tchekoff was actually hissed. You cannot conceive how inferior we are a small circle excepted to the common play- goer. However, I will go at Whelen again and make him understand that you do not propose to reopen the question of your choice of a pro- fession with him. G. B. S. The fragrant blending of kindliness and humour in this postcard seemed to leave me no choice but to send Esther Waters to my old friend with a note saying that if he could recommend the play to the Stage Society for performance I should be grateful, and that ix if he could not, his opinion would be equally valuable, for it would save me from further trouble. I should just put the play aside and never give it another thought. He did not, however, think the play altogether un- worthy, and it is a pleasure to me to know that I owe its performance to my oldest friend, for gratitude is a luxury in which I like to indulge, and this play affords me many opportunities of indulging in my virtue. And having thanked Shaw, I have to thank the Stage Society for the appearance in flesh and blood of all my characters. Mr. Whelen and the Committee dis- covered them all with few exceptions, I could hardly believe my eyes but there they were, all loking exactly like themselves, assembled for rehearsals and not one day older than when I saw them for the st It was a pleasure to shake hands with them all. The rst to speak is Sarah Tucker and Miss Evelyn Marthezes intonations and gestures were the same as those I had heard and seen years ago. She rose, how- ever, above my dream of her in her fear and her animal submission to the horrible ponce, Bill Evans, who dis- covers her hiding from him in the Kings Head. The old butler, Randal, was written out of one of my very earliest remembrances, and Mr. F. Crernlin made us feel that Randals life had been linked with the Gaffers from the very beginning, their lives had flown on together, and by one or two skilful touches he suggested this long intimacy and how familiar he was with the house. Mr. Harvey Braban as William Latch reproduced not only all that I thought and felt while writing, but the very appearance of the original who worked round the table with the original of Randal some forty-five years ago. The part of Mrs. Latch is a very small one, only a few lines, but these were admirably delivered by Mrs. Tapping. Esther Waters X seemed to have grown a little taller, but Miss Lucy Wilson was extraordinarily like-like whom Will the reader believe me -very like the original from whom the picture was painted, a pretty kitchen-maid and fellow-servant of Latch and Randal...