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Shaw birthday tree could return by end of the year
3:00pm Friday 23rd August 2013 in News
LEGACY: Cora Weaver and Bruce Osborne of the Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells in Australia, and some of the saplings due for planting locally.
A DESCENDANT of a mulberry tree planted by George Bernard Shaw in Priory Park could return to Malvern by the end of the year.
When the original tree, planted by the famous playwright in July 1936 to mark his 80th birthday, was uprooted by gales in November 2000 it was thought it had been lost forever.
However, a young tree grown from a cutting of Shaw’s tree was sent to Australia’s Malvern, a suburb of the city of Melbourne, in 1959 and subsequent cuttings from Down Under are close to being planted outside Malvern Theatres.
Dr Bruce Osborne, of the Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells, said six cuttings measuring six inches in height were sent across in 2009 and they now stood at eight feet tall, with three due to be chosen for planting.
“We would like to plant this autumn, give them the winter to settle in and all being well decide which one to retain next year and officially inaugurate it in Civic Week.
“By the autumn we will see the great grandson of the original tree.”
Dr Osborne added four of the saplings had done “exceptionally well” and plans for the project were being worked on in conjunction with the Malvern Hills District Council’s Route to the Hills scheme.
Barry Jackson, founder of the Birmingham Repertory and the Malvern Drama Festival, said at the time of the planting: “Mr Shaw is going to plant a mulberry tree and I hope its fruit may be as refreshing to many, as the fruits of his works have been.”
Mr Shaw shovelled five spadefuls of earth around it saying: “Shakespeare had a mulberry tree and I’m not going to be outdone by Shakespeare.
“The attraction of the tree is that it lasts so long.
I cannot last for ever ... we want something that lasts longer.”
A section from the base of the original tree was rescued, sanded and varnished as a memento, and it has been housed in Malvern Museum since July 2002.
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
The Irish playwright was born in Dublin on July 26, 1856, and died on November 2, 1950, at the age of 96.
He was heavily involved in the Malvern Festival, which was founded in his honour by Sir Barry Jackson in 1929, contributing 21 plays between 1929 and 1939.
Shaw premiered the Apple Cart, In Good King Charles’ Olden Days and Too True to be Good at Malvern.
The festival prompted the creation of a ‘festival theatre’ from the former assembly rooms.
He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925 and an Oscar for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion in 1938.
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