In July of 1952, Bob Shaw left Belfast for London, and Irish Fandom joined with Vin¢ Clarke to publish The Bob Shaw Appreciation Magazine. Struck by this tribute, Bob returned to Belfast for a time before going to Canada, and then bounced home once again. Walt Willis wrote up an explanation of Bob's background .....


by Walter A. Willis


The ancestry of Bob Shaw on the paternal side cannot be traced with accuracy, but a recent investigation shows that there is a strong possibility that he is in fact related to the respected Shaw family of Eastern Ireland -- the same family who, it will be remembered, later changed their name by deed poll to Slopbottom. The startling news that he was actually related to George Bernard Shaw was conveyed to that great man shortly before his unhappy death.

The Shaw family settled in Ireland just before the mass emigration of the Irish to America during the 19th century, and flourished luxuriantly on the edge of the Plantation of Ulster. They reached a position of great wealth and influence during the famines of the 1840's, attaining a prestige in Ireland comparable with that of the Campbells in Glencoe, and ranking second only to Cromwell in the esteem of the Irish people. Even today their name can occasionally be seen scrawled by simple peasants on the walls, coupled with a sincere, if somewhat crude, suggestion that the populace should demonstrate their love in a practical manner.

The British Government had every reason to be grateful to the Shaws for their monumental work during the famine, especially since that work consisted not merely of one, but two great public services -- the disposal of the bodies of the famine victims, and the sale to the survivors of food in the form of what are now known as sausages. (So called because they were first produced under Shaw's aegis.) Nevertheless the ungrateful English soon showed that they were jealous of the power of the Shaws and proceeded to whittle away the basis of their vast fortunes by a series of acts of injustice (The Corrupt Practices Act, The Public Morality Act, The Public Health Act, etc. etc.). Even the cultural life of the Shaws, in spite of their services in the Bore War, was undermined by the harsh Corn Laws. Embittered by this persecution, the family turned against the English and on the outbreak of the First World War and the Irish Civil War they, like many true Irish patriots, went underground.

Emerging from the family vault at the cessation of hostilities the more talented members of the family entered the public service, some of them attaining important stations in which they ministered to the needs of the common man. Indeed it is not too much to say that they dedicated themselves to attendance on the public convenience. It is often said, if not in so many words, that the nature of this work is reflected in the personality of Bob Shaw and certainly he shows in every aspect of his daily life his thoughts of the feelings of others and his determination to provide any assistance to his fellow men that lies in his power, short of actual help. For example, not only does he graciously allow his name to be linked with our little magazine Slant, but he visits us occasionally while we are at work, and from time to time goes so far as to look up from his perusal of my correspondance to mutter odd words of encouragement. (We are almost sure they are words of encouragement.) Moreover, he is generous to a fault with promises of contributions to our little journal and has several times actually supplied the contributions themselves. He also frequently regales us with detailed accounts of the many stories he writes for the prozines, and we often think what a pity it is that these amazing stories cannot have a wider audience -- or at least a different one. But unfortunately the blind and illogical prejudice of these ignorant pro editors in favor of the outworn shibboleths of 'syntax' shows no signs of abating, though Mr. Gold and Mr. Campbell keep urging him to continue trying to place his stories in ASF and Galaxy respectively.

While abroad, Bob is still his own inimitable self, and leaves behind him an impression that is not readily effaced. While staying at the Epicentre, for instance, he set an example to us all by tactfully remaining in bed until breakfast was made so that he would not be in the way, and afterwards would go to immense trouble to efface himself so as not to disturb the people who were washing the dishes. And yet in his own quiet way he contrived to show his appreciation of all that was done for him, by forcing himself to eat with a convincing appearance of relish all the food that was placed in front of him, and much that was not. After their experience I am sure the Epicentrics will join all of us here in heartily endorsing the resolution recently passed at the Belfast Congress of Dispensing Chemists, when they declared Bob Shaw to be "The Fan We Would Most Like To Dispense With."

Note to English Fandom: Now that you know what Bob Shaw is really like, won't you please send him back? Of course it couldn't be affection we feel for this character, but we've got sort of used to having him around and I don't know how we're going to get along without him. I warn you, if you don't give him back you won't get any serious constructive fanning done. He will hang around making you split your sides with laughter and being such good company that you won't want to write letters or publish fanzines to keep yourself amused. Don't say we didn't warn you. He will be the death of English fandom just as he was the death of us.

Anyway, take good care of him.

Data entry by Judy Bemis