George Bernard Shaw

(July 26, 1856 - November 2nd, 1950)

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Biography

George Bernard Shaw was born on July 26 1856 in Dublin Ireland the son of a civil servant. Although he was best known for drama, he was also proficient in the areas of journalism, music and literary criticism. He began his literary career as a novelist. Shaw’s works concerned themselves mostly with prevailing social problems, specifically with what he saw as the exploitation of the working middle class. Shaw attended various schools throughout his youth but always harboured an animosity towards schools and teachers. He is quoted as saying that "Schools and schoolmasters, as we have them today, are not popular as places of education and teachers, but rather prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them disturbing and chaperoning their parents".

In his personal life, Shaw was an avid Socialist and a member of the Fabian society. In 1898 he married fellow Fabian member and Irish heiress Charlotte Payne-Townsend. He was the first person to be awarded the Nobel prize for Literature as well as an Oscar (for his work on Pygmalion, which was an adaptation of his play of the same name). He wrote 60 plays, most of which deal with social themes such as marriage, religion, class government and health care. Two of his greatest influences were Henrik Ibsen and Henry Fielding. Ibsen's plays and Fielding's expulsion from playwriting inspired him to write his own plays on the social injustices of the world around him, including the late nineteenth century censorship of plays, continued from Prime Minister Walpole's rein in the mid 1740s. The Lord Chamberlain's Examiner of Plays especially irked him:
"A gentleman who robs, insults, and suppresses me as irresistibly as if he were the Tsar of Russia and I the meanest of his subjects... But I must submit [my play] in order to obtain from him an insolent and insufferable document, which I cannot read without boiling of the blood, certifying that in his opinion -- his opinion!-- my play 'does not in its general tendency contain anything immoral or otherwise improper for the stage,' and that the Lord Chamberlain therefore 'allows' its performance (confound his impudence!)." (Mainly xv)

George Bernard Shaw died at the age of 94 due to injuries incurred from falling while pruning a tree.

Listen to an Interview with George Bernard Shaw from 1937.

If you would like to know what Shaw thought about something, the NYTimes has an archive of Shaw: his quotes, his opinions, pictures, etc.

Works

Short Stories

  • The Black Girl in Search of God
  • The Miraculous Revenge

Novels

  • Immaturity
  • Cashel Byron's Profession
  • The Unsocial Socialist
  • The Irrational Knot
  • Love Among the Artists

Plays (In chronological order)

  • Plays Unpleasant
    • Widowers' Houses
    • The Philanderer
    • Mrs. Warren's Profession
      • To read the script with the Author's Apology, click HERE.
  • Plays Pleasant
    • Arms and the Man
    • Candida
    • The Man of Destiny
    • You Can Never Tell
  • Three Plays for Puritans
    • The Devil's Disciple
    • Caesar and Cleopatra
    • Captain Brassbound's Conversion
    • The Admirable Bashville
  • Man and Superman
  • John Bull's Other Island
  • How He Lied to Her Husband
  • Major Barbara
  • The Doctor's Dilemma
  • Getting Married
  • The Glimpse of Reality
  • The Fascinating Foundling
  • Press Cuttings
  • Misalliance
  • Annajanska, The Bolshevik Empress
  • The Dark Lady of the Sonnets
  • Fanny's First Play
  • Overruled
  • Androcles and the Lion
  • Pygmalion
  • The Great Catherine
  • The Inca of Perusalem
  • O'Flaherty VC
  • Augustus Does His Bit
  • Heartbreak House
  • Back to Methuselah
  • Saint Joan
    • In the Beginning
    • The Gospel of the Brothers Barnabus
    • The Thing Happens
    • Tragedy of an Elderly Gentleman
    • As Far as Thought Can Reach
  • The Apple Cart
  • Too True to be Good
  • On the Rocks
  • The Six of Calias
  • The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles
  • The Shewing Up of Blanco Posnet
  • The Millionaires
  • Geneva
  • In Good King Charles Golden Days
  • Bouyant Billions
  • Shakes Versus Shav

Essays

  • The Quintessence of Ibenism
  • The Perfect Wagnerite, Commentary on the Ring
  • Maxims for Revolutionists
  • Preface to Major Barabara
  • How to Write a Popular Play
  • Treatise on Parents and Children
  • Common Sense about the War
  • The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism
  • Dictators-Let Us Have More of Them
  • "Shaw's Music: The Complete Musical Criticism of Bernard Shaw in Three Volumes"
  • "Shaw on Shakespeare: An Anthology of Bernard Shaw's Writings"

To see a selection of Shaw's Essays courtesy of Brown University, click HERE.

Return to Drama in the Twentieth Century



References


Contributors

Mallory Slade, Karen Bilotti