The last rough for the final proposal for what would become Shavian. Actual size ~ 175 x 230mm. September, 1960.

How Kingsley Read built a writing system to match George Bernard Shaw’s alphabetic utopia


Spread from ‘Androcles and the Lion’ (London: Penguin, 1962).

The background of the alphabetic utopia theorised by G.B. Shaw, between spelling and phonetic reform of the English language

By the time that his vision of a new alphabet for the English language had been realised and printed, George Bernard Shaw was dead. A Nobel-winning playwright, critic and polemicist, he spent half a century exasperated by how English was written and campaigning for its reform. It would be twelve years after his ashes were scattered before people might have found — innocuous amongst the shelves of their local libraries — that strange biscript edition of Androcles and the Lion: its pages now creamed, dried and softened with age; every other page inscrutable and seemingly printed with tinned spaghetti. Shavian.

Leo Philp

MATD ‘14, joint Nobel Peace Prize winner ‘12. Tuits @helloleo

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