The website for Dr Martin Shaw OBE FRCM (1875 –1958)

"On the whole this is an entertaining book, guaranteed not to frighten the layman."

Christopher St John

Up to now


A narrow gauge railway train  arrives at Southwold station


Up to Now was widely reviewed in the national press at the time of its publication. To read extracts click here...

Published in 1929

Shaw’s collection of reminiscences was published in 1929 by Oxford University Press. It was not usual for a musician to publish such a book, but then Shaw was not your usual musician. As it happened he had led a very interesting life, and this, combined with the ever pressing need to provide for his family, may have been the reason for publication.


Topics Covered

The book covers Shaw's ventures with The Purcell Operatic Society, his travels as Music Director for Isadora Duncan, his love of farm work, and his many other adventures.


Autobiography or Reminiscence?

Although Up to Now was described as an Autobiography by the publishers, Shaw himself referred to the book as being his Reminiscences – and there is a difference between the two. An autobiography can be said to be a story of the self as hero, whereas reminiscences are happy memories and stories collected over the course of a lifetime. This is why, if you want to find out all about Shaw, you will not find it in Up to Now – it is an entertaining book about his adventures, and other people.


Widely Praised

It was widely praised when published as the quotes below show. Shaw wrote to delight and amuse the people of the time, and whilst a number of the house-hold names of the 1920s have been forgotten, his style, together with his own insights into society give the book a lasting appeal.


Useful Biographical Details

Whilst the book is a book of reminiscences, it does contain enough biographical details to be an enjoyable start for a biographer, and to give a sense of Shaw’s character and wit.


Reading Copies

Copies are now scarce, but are available at the following libraries:

The London Library
The British Library
Royal College of Music Library (for students of the RCM, avaialable to order)




Contemporary Reviews of Up to Now


A commendable book of gossip TLS

This is a witty, a kindly, an informing and delightfully written book, in which only one serious fault can be found: it is too short. The Observer

His reminiscences, set forth quite unpretentiously, are very varied... They become particularly interesting when he comes to the famous nineties, for he met many men, usually non-musical, who have made their mark and touches on some movements, notably Craig’s enthusiasms, which most of the chroniclers of that time have scarcely touched... The Sunday Times

It is worth reading, in the first place, because it is exceedingly amusing. The author has a keen eye for the absurd, made the more attractive by a complete freedom from malice.
... But amusing as the book is, its real interest goes deeper. The reader is taken into a world where the right values reign, a world absolutely free from the slaveries of money standards or social pride. It is a world of free people, and therefore a bright world. And it is a world of great variety, of painters, doctors and musicians and clergymen. An unusual collocation it may be said! ...
The Guardian


This is a delightfully written book, witty, genial, informative, and brimful of invincible good spirits. Mr Shaw recounts the story of his successes with modesty; and of his failures with charming good humour. The Bookworm

On the whole this is an entertaining book, guaranteed not to frighten the layman.
Christopher St John, Yorkshire Post