‘I do not know why I am writing to you, for we are both busy men and I have no desire to add to your work.’

George Bernard Shaw was the greatest English playwright after William Shakespeare. He was born in 1856 and died in 1950.
Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to Shaw on 4 September 1948 from New Delhi.

New Delhi
September 4, 1948
My dear Mr. Shaw,
I do not know why I am writing to you, for we are both busy men and I have no desire to add to your work. But Devadas Gandhi has sent me a copy of a letter you wrote him on the 16 July and this has produced an urge in me to write to you.
Forty years ago, when I was 18 and an undergraduate at Cambridge, I heard you address a meeting there. I have not seen you again since then, nor have I ever written to you. But, like many of my generation, we have grown up in company with your writings and books. I suppose a part of myself, such as I am today, has been moulded by that reading. I do not know if that would do you any credit.
Because, in a sense, you have been near to me, or rather near to my thoughts, I have often wanted to come in closer touch with you and to meet you. But opportunities have been lacking and then I felt that the best way to meeting you was to read what you had written…
…Life has become so cheap that it does not seem of very much consequence whether a few criminals are put to death or not. Sometimes one wonders whether a sentence to live is not the hardest punishment after all.
I must apologise to you for those of my countrymen who pester you for your views on India. Many of us have not outgrown our old habit of seeking testimonials from others. Perhaps that is due to a certain lack of faith in ourselves. Events have shaken us rather badly and the future does not appear to be as bright as we imagined it would be.
There is a chance of my going to England for two or three weeks in October next. I would love to pay you a visit, but certainly not if this means any interference with your daily routine. I would not come to trouble you with any questions. There are too many questions which fill the mind and for which there appears to be no adequate answers, or if the answers are there, somehow they cannot be implemented because of the human beings that should implement them. If I have the privilege to meet you for a while, it will be to treasure a memory which will make me a little richer than I am.
Yours Sincerely
Jawaharlal Nehru

George Bernard Shaw,
Ayot Saint Lawrence,
Welwyn, Herts, England.


September 18, 1948
Dear Mr. Nehru,
I was greatly gratified to learn that you were acquainted with my political writings; and I need hardly add that I should be honoured by a visit from you, though I cannot pretend that it will be worth your while to spend an afternoon of your precious time making the journey to this remote village, where there is nothing left of Bernard Shaw but a doddering old skeleton who should have died years ago.
I once spent a week in Bombay, another in Ceylon; and that is all I know at first-hand about India. I was convinced that Ceylon is the cradle of the human race because everybody there looks an original. All other nations are obviously mass products.
Though I know nothing about India except what is in the newspapers. I can consider it objectively because I am not English but Irish, and have lived through the long struggle for liberation from England rule, and the partition of the country into Eire and Northern Ireland, the Western equivalent of Hindustan and Pakistan. I am as much a foreigner in England as you were in Cambridge.
I am wondering whether the death of Jinner[sic] will prevent you from coming to England. If he has no competent successor you will have to govern whole Peninsula.
G. Bernard Shaw
H.E The Prime Minister,
New Delhi,