Anecdote: Eugenic potential of love child: Isadora Duncan and Anatole France (1923) (common variant involves George Bernard Shaw)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 19 04:58:05 UTC 2013

There exists a famous exchange between the playwright George Bernard
Shaw and the dancer Isadora Duncan on the topic of producing a child

Key references present this interaction, e.g., The Yale Book of
Quotations, Quote Verifier, Brewer’s Famous Quotations, Oxford
Dictionary of Modern Quotations. Important citations in 1939 or 1942
are given.

Here is a citation in 1923 that paired Isadora Duncan with Anatole
France. This is the earliest I have located so far:

[ref] 1923 December 7, Boston Globe, Editorial Points, Quote Page 18,
Column 3, Boston, Massachusetts. (ProQuest) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
In all probability the conversation between Isadore Duncan and Anatole
France, who were discussing eugenics, came to a sudden stop when
Isadore said: "Imagine a child with my beauty and your brains!" and
Anatole responded: "Yes, but imagine a child with my beauty and your
[End excerpt]

George Bernard Shaw was asked about a version of the anecdote
involving Isadora Duncan and in a letter dated March 3, 1926 he denied
the tale. There is a new entry on the Quote Investigator website.
Additional citations and comments are welcome.


The American Dialect Society -

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