George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

Overview
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 playwright
Playwright
A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

 and a co-founder of the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism
Journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

, his main talent was for drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

, and he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.

He was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'George Bernard Shaw'
Start a new discussion about 'George Bernard Shaw'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Quotations

Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it…

The World (15 November 1893)

Pasteboard pies and paper flowers are being banished from the stage by the growth of that power of accurate observation which is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it…

The World (18 July 1894), Music in London 1890-1894 being criticisms contributed week by week to The World (New York: Vienna House, 1973)

My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity.

Answers to Nine Questions (September 1896), answers to nine questions submitted by Clarence Rook, who had interviewed him in 1895.

We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.

Candida|Candida, Act I (1898)

I'm only a beer teetotaler, not a champagne teetotaler. I don't like beer.

Candida, Act III

We don't bother much about dress and manners in England, because as a nation we don't dress well and we've no manners.

You Never Can Tell|You Never Can Tell, Act I (1898)

The great advantage of a hotel is that it's a refuge from home life.

You Never Can Tell, Act II

My specialty is being right when other people are wrong.

You Never Can Tell, Act IV

There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.

Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, Vol. II, preface (1898)

You're not a man, you're a machine.

Arms and the Man|Arms and the Man, Act III (1898)
Encyclopedia
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 playwright
Playwright
A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

 and a co-founder of the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism
Journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

, his main talent was for drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

, and he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.

He was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society
Fabian Society
The Fabian Society is a British socialist movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World...

. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthy lifestyles. For a short time he was active in local politics, serving on the London County Council
London County Council
London County Council was the principal local government body for the County of London, throughout its 1889–1965 existence, and the first London-wide general municipal authority to be directly elected. It covered the area today known as Inner London and was replaced by the Greater London Council...

.

In 1898, Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend
Charlotte Payne-Townshend
Charlotte Payne-Townshend was a British political activist. She was a member of the Fabian Society and was dedicated to the struggle for women's rights....

, a fellow Fabian, whom he survived. They settled in Ayot St. Lawrence in a house now called Shaw's Corner
Shaw's Corner
Shaw's Corner was the primary residence of the renowned Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw; now a historic National Trust property open to the public. Inside the house, the rooms remain much as Shaw left them, and the garden and Shaw's writing hut can also be visited...

. Shaw died there, aged 94, from chronic problems exacerbated by injuries he incurred by falling from a ladder.

He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

 (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion
Pygmalion (1938 film)
Pygmalion is a 1938 British film based on the George Bernard Shaw play of the same title, and adapted by him for the screen. It stars Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller....

(adaptation of his play of the same name
Pygmalion (play)
Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts is a play by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of...

), respectively. Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because he had no desire for public honours, but accepted it at his wife's behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of Swedish books to English.

Early years and family


George Bernard Shaw was born in Synge Street, Dublin, on 26 July 1856 to George Carr Shaw (1814–85), an unsuccessful grain merchant and sometime civil servant, and Lucinda Elizabeth Shaw, née Gurly (1830–1913), a professional singer. He had two sisters, Lucinda Frances (1853–1920), a singer of musical comedy and light opera, and Elinor Agnes (1855–76).

Education


Shaw briefly attended the Wesley College, Dublin
Wesley College, Dublin
This article is about Wesley College in Dublin, Ireland. See Wesley College for articles on other institutions named "Wesley College"....

, a grammar school operated by the Methodist Church in Ireland
Methodist Church in Ireland
The Methodist Church in Ireland is a Wesleyan Methodist church that operates across both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on an all Ireland basis, It is the 4th largest Christian denomination in both jurisdictions and on the island as a whole...

, before moving to a private school near Dalkey
Dalkey
Dalkey is suburb of Dublin and seaside resort in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County, Ireland. It was founded as a Viking settlement and became an important port during the Middle Ages. According to John Clyn, it was one of the ports through which the plague entered Ireland in the mid-14th century...

 and then transferring to Dublin's Central Model School. He ended his formal education at the Dublin English Scientific and Commercial Day School. He harboured a lifelong animosity toward schools and teachers, saying: "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 the astringent prologue to Cashel Byron's Profession
Cashel Byron's Profession
Cashel Byron's Profession is George Bernard Shaw's fourth novel. The novel was written in 1882 and after rejection by several publishers it was published in serialized form in a socialist magazine. The novel was later published as a book in England and the United States...

young Byron's educational experience is a fictionalized description of Shaw's own schooldays. Later, he painstakingly detailed the reasons for his aversion to formal education in his Treatise on Parents and Children.
In brief, he considered the standardized curricula useless, deadening to the spirit and stifling to the intellect. He particularly deplored the use of corporal punishment, which was prevalent in his time.

When his mother left home and followed her voice teacher, George Vandeleur Lee, to London, Shaw was almost sixteen years old. His sisters accompanied their mother
but Shaw remained in Dublin with his father, first as a reluctant pupil, then as a clerk in an estate office. He worked efficiently, albeit discontentedly, for several years. In 1876, Shaw joined his mother's London household. She, Vandeleur Lee, and his sister Lucy, provided him with a pound a week while he frequented public libraries and the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 reading room where he studied earnestly and began writing novels. He earned his allowance by ghostwriting Vandeleur Lee's music column, which appeared in the London Hornet. His novels were rejected, however, so his literary earnings remained negligible until 1885, when he became self-supporting as a critic of the arts.

Personal life and political activism



Influenced by his reading, he became a dedicated Socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 and a charter member of the Fabian Society
Fabian Society
The Fabian Society is a British socialist movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World...

, a middle class organization established in 1884 to promote the gradual spread of socialism by peaceful means. In the course of his political activities he met Charlotte Payne-Townshend
Charlotte Payne-Townshend
Charlotte Payne-Townshend was a British political activist. She was a member of the Fabian Society and was dedicated to the struggle for women's rights....

, an Irish heiress and fellow Fabian; they married in 1898. The marriage was never consummated, at Charlotte's insistence, though he had had a number of affairs with married women; Shaw declined to stand as an MP, but in 1897 he was elected as a local councillor to the London County Council
London County Council
London County Council was the principal local government body for the County of London, throughout its 1889–1965 existence, and the first London-wide general municipal authority to be directly elected. It covered the area today known as Inner London and was replaced by the Greater London Council...

 as a Progressive.

In 1906 the Shaws moved into a house, now called Shaw's Corner
Shaw's Corner
Shaw's Corner was the primary residence of the renowned Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw; now a historic National Trust property open to the public. Inside the house, the rooms remain much as Shaw left them, and the garden and Shaw's writing hut can also be visited...

, in Ayot St. Lawrence, a small village in Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

, England; it was to be their home for the remainder of their lives, although they also maintained a residence at 29 Fitzroy Square in London.

Shaw's plays were first performed in the 1890s. By the end of the decade he was an established playwright. He wrote sixty-three plays and his output as novelist, critic, pamphleteer, essayist and private correspondent was prodigious. He is known to have written more than 250,000 letters.
Along with Fabian Society
Fabian Society
The Fabian Society is a British socialist movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World...

 members Sidney and Beatrice Webb
Beatrice Webb
Martha Beatrice Webb, Lady Passfield was an English sociologist, economist, socialist and social reformer. Although her husband became Baron Passfield in 1929, she refused to be known as Lady Passfield...

 and Graham Wallas
Graham Wallas
Graham Wallas was an English socialist, social psychologist, educationalist, a leader of the Fabian Society and a co-founder of the London School of Economics....

, Shaw founded the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1895 with funding provided by private philanthropy, including a bequest of £20,000 from Henry Hunt Hutchinson to the Fabian Society. One of the libraries at the LSE is named in Shaw's honor; it contains collections of his papers and photographs. Shaw helped to found the left-wing magazine New Statesman
New Statesman
New Statesman is a British centre-left political and cultural magazine published weekly in London. Founded in 1913, and connected with leading members of the Fabian Society, the magazine reached a circulation peak in the late 1960s....

in 1913 with the Webbs and other prominent members of the Fabian Society.

Final years


During his later years, Shaw enjoyed attending to the grounds at Shaw's Corner. He died at the age of 94, of renal failure precipitated by injuries incurred by falling while pruning a tree. His ashes, mixed with those of his wife, Charlotte Payne-Townshend
Charlotte Payne-Townshend
Charlotte Payne-Townshend was a British political activist. She was a member of the Fabian Society and was dedicated to the struggle for women's rights....

, were scattered along footpaths and around the statue of Saint Joan in their garden.

Writings

See Works by George Bernard Shaw for listings of his novels and plays, with links to their electronic texts, if those exist.


The International Shaw Society provides a detailed chronological listing of Shaw's writings. See also
George Bernard Shaw, Unity Theatre.

Criticism



Shaw became a critic of the arts when, sponsored by William Archer
William Archer (critic)
William Archer , Scottish critic, was born in Perth, and was educated at the University of Edinburgh, where he received the degree of M.A. in 1876. He was the son of Thomas Archer....

, he joined the reviewing staff of the
Pall Mall Gazette
Pall Mall Gazette
The Pall Mall Gazette was an evening newspaper founded in London on 7 February 1865 by George Murray Smith; its first editor was Frederick Greenwood...

in 1885.
There he wrote under the pseudonym
"Corno di Bassetto" ("basset horn")—chosen because it sounded European and nobody knew what a corno di bassetto was. In a miscellany of other periodicals, including Dramatic Review (1885–86), Our Corner (1885–86), and the Pall Mall Gazette (1885–88) his byline was "GBS". From 1895 to 1898, Shaw was the drama critic for his friend Frank Harris
Frank Harris
Frank Harris was a Irish-born, naturalized-American author, editor, journalist and publisher, who was friendly with many well-known figures of his day...

's
Saturday Review
Saturday Review (London)
The Saturday Review of politics, literature, science, and art was a London weekly newspaper established by A. J. B. Beresford Hope in 1855....

, in which position he campaigned brilliantly to displace the artificialities and hypocrisies of the Victorian stage with a theatre of actuality and thought. His earnings as a critic made him self-supporting as an author and his articles for the Saturday Review made his name well-known.

George Bernard Shaw was highly critical of productions of Shakespeare, and specifically denounced the dramatic practice of editing Shakespeare's plays, whose scenes tended to be cut in order to create "acting versions". He notably held famous 19th-century actor Sir Henry Irving in contempt for this practice, as he expressed in one of his reviews:

"In a true republic of art, Sir Henry Irving would ere this have expiated his acting versions on the scaffold. He does not merely cut plays; he disembowels them. In Cymbeline
Cymbeline
Cymbeline , also known as Cymbeline, King of Britain or The Tragedy of Cymbeline, is a play by William Shakespeare, based on legends concerning the early Celtic British King Cunobelinus. Although listed as a tragedy in the First Folio, modern critics often classify Cymbeline as a romance...

 he has quite surpassed himself by extirpating the antiphonal third verse of the famous dirge. A man who would do that would do anything –cut the coda out of the first movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, or shorten one of Velázquez
Diego Velázquez
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period, important as a portrait artist...

's Philips into a kitcat to make it fit over his drawing room mantelpiece."

Shavian scholar John F. Matthews credits him, as a result, with the disappearance of the two-hundred-year-old tradition of editing Shakespeare into "acting versions".
He had a very high regard for both Irish stage actor Barry Sullivan
Barry Sullivan (stage actor)
Barry Sullivan , was an acclaimed stage actor who played many classical parts in England, Australia and America.-Early life:...

's and Johnston Forbes-Robertson
Johnston Forbes-Robertson
Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson was an English actor and theatre manager. He was considered the finest Hamlet of the nineteenth century and one of the finest actors of his time, despite his dislike of the job and his lifelong belief that he was temperamentally unsuited to acting.-Early life:Born in...

's Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

s, but despised John Barrymore
John Barrymore
John Sidney Blyth , better known as John Barrymore, was an acclaimed American actor. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespearean plays Hamlet and Richard III...

's. Barrymore invited him to see a performance of his celebrated Hamlet, and Shaw graciously accepted, but wrote Barrymore a withering letter in which he all but tore the performance to shreds. Even worse, Shaw had seen the play in the company of Barrymore's then wife, but did not dare voice his true feelings about the performance aloud to her.

Much of Shaw's music criticism, ranging from short comments to the book-length essay The Perfect Wagnerite, extols the work of the German composer Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

. Wagner worked 25 years composing
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

, a massive four-part musical dramatization drawn from the Teutonic mythology of gods, giants, dwarves and Rhine maidens; Shaw considered it a work of genius and reviewed it in detail. Beyond the music, he saw it as an allegory of social evolution where workers, driven by "the invisible whip of hunger", seek freedom from their wealthy masters. Wagner did have socialistic sympathies, as Shaw carefully points out, but made no such claim about his opus. Conversely, Shaw disparaged Brahms, deriding A German Requiem by saying "it could only have come from the establishment of a first-class undertaker". Although he found Brahms lacking in intellect, he praised his musicality, saying "...nobody can listen to Brahms' natural utterance of the richest absolute music, especially in his chamber compositions, without rejoicing in his natural gift". In the 1920s, he recanted, calling his earlier animosity towards Brahms "my only mistake". name="Wagner"/> Shaw's writings about music gained great popularity because they were understandable to the average well-read audience member of the day, thus contrasting starkly with the dourly pretentious pedantry of most critiques in that era. All of his music critiques have been collected in Shaw's Music. As a drama critic for the Saturday Review, a post he held from 1895 to 1898, Shaw championed Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre...

 whose realistic plays scandalized the Victorian public. His influential
Quintessence of Ibsenism
Quintessence of Ibsenism
The Quintessence of Ibsenism is an essay written in 1891 by George Bernard Shaw, providing an extended analysis of the works of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and of Ibsen's critical reception in England...

was written in 1891.

Novels


Shaw wrote five unsuccessful novels at the start of his career between 1879 and 1883. Eventually all were published.
The first to be printed was
Cashel Byron's Profession
Cashel Byron's Profession
Cashel Byron's Profession is George Bernard Shaw's fourth novel. The novel was written in 1882 and after rejection by several publishers it was published in serialized form in a socialist magazine. The novel was later published as a book in England and the United States...

 (1886),
which was written in 1882. Its eponymous character, Cashel, a rebellious schoolboy with an unsympathetic mother, runs away to Australia where he becomes a famed prizefighter. He returns to England for a boxing match, and falls in love with erudite and wealthy Lydia Carew. Lydia, drawn by sheer animal magnetism, eventually consents to marry despite the disparity of their social positions. This breach of propriety is nullified by the unpresaged discovery that Cashel is of noble lineage and heir to a fortune comparable to Lydia's. With those barriers to happiness removed, the couple settles down to prosaic family life with Lydia dominant; Cashel attains a seat in Parliament. In this novel Shaw first expresses his conviction that productive land and all other natural resources should belong to everyone in common, rather than being owned and exploited privately. The book was written in the year when Shaw first heard the lectures of Henry George
Henry George
Henry George was an American writer, politician and political economist, who was the most influential proponent of the land value tax, also known as the "single tax" on land...

 who advocated such reforms.

Written in 1883, An Unsocial Socialist was published in 1887.
The tale begins with a hilarious description of student antics at a girl's school then changes focus to a seemingly uncouth laborer who, it soon develops, is really a wealthy gentleman in hiding from his overly affectionate wife. He needs the freedom gained by matrimonial truancy to promote the socialistic cause, to which he is an active convert. Once the subject of socialism emerges, it dominates the story, allowing only space enough in the final chapters to excoriate the idle upper class and allow the erstwhile schoolgirls, in their earliest maturity, to marry suitably.

Love Among the Artists was published in the United States in 1900 and in England in 1914,
but it was written in 1881. In the ambiance of chit-chat and frivolity among members of Victorian polite society a youthful Shaw describes his views on the arts, romantic love and the practicalities of matrimony. Dilettantes, he thinks, can love and settle down to marriage, but artists with real genius are too consumed by their work to fit that pattern. The dominant figure in the novel is Owen Jack, a musical genius, somewhat mad and quite bereft of social graces. From an abysmal beginning he rises to great fame and is lionized by socialites despite his unremitting crudity.

The Irrational Knot was written in 1880 and published in 1905. Within a framework of leisure class preoccupations and frivolities Shaw disdains hereditary status and proclaims the nobility of workers. Marriage, as the knot in question, is exemplified by the union of Marian Lind, a lady of the upper class, to Edward Conolly, always a workman but now a magnate, thanks to his invention of an electric motor that makes steam engines obsolete. The marriage soon deteriorates, primarily because Marian fails to rise above the preconceptions and limitations of her social class and is, therefore, unable to share her husband's interests. Eventually she runs away with a man who is her social peer, but he proves himself a scoundrel and abandons her in desperate circumstances. Her husband rescues her and offers to take her back, but she pridefully refuses, convinced she is unworthy and certain that she faces life as a pariah to her family and friends. The preface, written when Shaw was 49, expresses gratitude to his parents for their support during the lean years while he learned to write and includes details of his early life in London.

Shaw's first novel, Immaturity, was written in 1879 but was the last one to be printed in 1931.
It relates tepid romances, minor misfortunes and subdued successes in the developing career of Robert Smith, an energetic young Londoner and outspoken agnostic. Condemnation of alcoholic behavior is the prime message in the book, and derives from Shaw's familial memories. This is made clear in the books's preface, which was written by the mature Shaw at the time of its belated publication. The preface is a valuable resource because it provides autobiographical details not otherwise available.

Short stories



A collection of Shaw's short stories, The Black Girl in Search of God and Some Lesser Tales
The Black Girl in Search of God
The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God  is a book of short stories written by George Bernard Shaw...

, was published in 1934.
The Black Girl, an enthusiastic convert to Christianity, goes searching for God. In the story, written as an allegory, somewhat reminiscent of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress
The Pilgrim's Progress
The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come is a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan and published in February, 1678. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been...

, Shaw uses her adventures to expose flaws and fallacies in the religions of the world. At the story's happy ending, the Black Girl quits her searchings in favor of rearing a family with the aid of a red-haired Irishman who has no metaphysical inclination.

One of the Lesser Tales is
The Miraculous Revenge (1885), which relates the misadventures of an alcoholic investigator while he probes the mystery of a graveyard—full of saintly corpses—that migrates across a stream to escape association with the body of a newly buried sinner.

Plays


The texts of plays by Shaw mentioned in this section, with the dates when they were written and first performed can be found in
Complete Plays and Prefaces. Shaw began working on his first play destined for production, Widowers' Houses
Widowers' Houses
Widowers' Houses was the first play by Nobel Prize in literature winner George Bernard Shaw to be staged. It premièred on 9 December 1892 at the Royalty Theatre, under the auspices of the Independent Theatre Society — a subscription club, formed to escape the Lord Chamberlain's Office...

, in 1885 in collaboration with critic William Archer
William Archer (critic)
William Archer , Scottish critic, was born in Perth, and was educated at the University of Edinburgh, where he received the degree of M.A. in 1876. He was the son of Thomas Archer....

, who supplied the structure. Archer decided that Shaw could not write a play, so the project was abandoned. Years later, Shaw tried again and, in 1892, completed the play without collaboration.
Widowers' Houses, a scathing attack on slumlords, was first performed at London's Royalty Theatre on 9 December 1892. Shaw would later call it one of his worst works, but he had found his medium. His first significant financial success as a playwright came from Richard Mansfield
Richard Mansfield
Richard Mansfield was an English actor-manager best known for his performances in Shakespeare plays, Gilbert and Sullivan operas and for his portrayal of the dual title roles in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde....

's American production of
The Devil's Disciple
The Devil's Disciple
The Devil's Disciple is an 1897 play written by Irish dramatist, George Bernard Shaw. The play is Shaw's eighth, and after Richard Mansfield's original 1897 American production it was his first financial success, which helped to affirm his career as a playwright...

(1897). He went on to write 63 plays, most of them full-length.

Often his plays succeeded in the United States and Germany before they did in London. Although major London productions of many of his earlier pieces were delayed for years, they are still being performed there. Examples include
Mrs. Warren's Profession
Mrs. Warren's Profession
Mrs Warren's Profession is a play written by George Bernard Shaw in 1893. The story centers on the relationship between Mrs Kitty Warren, a brothel owner, described by the author as "on the whole, a genial and fairly presentable old blackguard of a woman" and her daughter, Vivie...

(1893), Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw, whose title comes from the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid in Latin:"Arma virumque cano" ....

(1894), Candida
Candida (play)
Candida, a comedy by playwright George Bernard Shaw, was first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife Candida and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Candida's affections. The play questions Victorian notions...

(1894) and You Never Can Tell (1897).

Shaw's plays, like those of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

, contained incisive humour, which was exceptional among playwrights of the Victorian era; both authors are remembered for their comedy. However, Shaw's wittiness should not obscure his important role in revolutionizing British drama. In the Victorian Era, the London stage had been regarded as a place for frothy, sentimental entertainment. Shaw made it a forum for considering moral, political and economic issues, possibly his most lasting and important contribution to dramatic art. In this, he considered himself indebted to Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre...

, who pioneered modern realistic drama, meaning drama designed to heighten awareness of some important social issue. Significantly, Widowers' Houses — an example of the realistic genre — was completed after William Archer, Shaw's friend, had translated some of Ibsen's plays to English and Shaw had written The Quintessence of Ibsensism.

As Shaw's experience and popularity increased, his plays and prefaces became more voluble about reforms he advocated, without diminishing their success as entertainments. Such works, including
Caesar and Cleopatra
Caesar and Cleopatra (play)
Caesar and Cleopatra, a play written in 1898 by George Bernard Shaw, was first staged in 1901 and first published with Captain Brassbound's Conversion and The Devil's Disciple in his 1901 collection, Three Plays for Puritans. It was first performed at Newcastle-on-Tyne on March 15, 1899...

(1898), Man and Superman
Man and Superman
Man and Superman is a four-act drama, written by George Bernard Shaw in 1903. The series was written in response to calls for Shaw to write a play based on the Don Juan theme. Man and Superman opened at The Royal Court Theatre in London on 23 May 1905, but with the omission of the 3rd Act...

(1903), Major Barbara
Major Barbara (play)
Major Barbara is a three act play by George Bernard Shaw, written and premiered in 1905 and first published in 1907.-Setting:*London*Act I: Lady Britomart's house in Wilton Crescent*Act II: The Salvation Army shelter in West Ham...

(1905) and The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), display Shaw's matured views, for he was approaching 50 when he wrote them. From 1904 to 1907, several of his plays had their London premieres in notable productions at the Court Theatre, managed by Harley Granville-Barker
Harley Granville-Barker
Harley Granville-Barker was an English actor-manager, director, producer, critic and playwright....

 and J. E. Vedrenne. The first of his new plays to be performed at the Court Theatre,
John Bull's Other Island
John Bull's Other Island
John Bull's Other Island is a comedy about Ireland, written by G. Bernard Shaw in 1904. Shaw himself was born in Dublin, yet this is the only play of his where he thematically returned to his homeland....

(1904), while not especially popular today, made his reputation in London when King Edward VII
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 laughed so hard during a command performance that he broke his chair.

By the 1910s, Shaw was a well-established playwright. New works such as
Fanny's First Play
Fanny's First Play
Fanny's First Play is a 1911 play by G. Bernard Shaw. It was written anonymously, then later discovered to be the work of George Bernard Shaw and produced by the Shubert family. It opened at the Adelphi Theatre at Westminster in London on April 19, 1911 and ran for 622 performances , and second...

(1911) and Pygmalion
Pygmalion (play)
Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts is a play by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of...

(1912), had long runs in front of large London audiences. Shaw had permitted a musical adaptation of Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw, whose title comes from the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid in Latin:"Arma virumque cano" ....

(1894) called The Chocolate Soldier
The Chocolate Soldier
The Chocolate Soldier is an operetta composed in 1908 by Oscar Straus based on George Bernard Shaw's 1894 play, Arms and the Man...

 (1908), but he had a low opinion of German operetta. He insisted that none of his dialogue be used, and that all the character names be changed, although the operetta actually follows Shaw's plot quite closely, in particular preserving its anti-war message. The work proved very popular and would have made Shaw rich had he not waived his royalties, but he detested it and for the rest of his life forbade musicalization of his work, including a proposed Franz Lehár
Franz Lehár
Franz Lehár was an Austrian-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow .-Biography:...

 operetta based on Pygmalion. Several of his plays formed the basis of musicals after his death—most famously the musical My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady is a musical based upon George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe...

—it is officially adapted from the screenplay of the film version of Pygmalion rather than the original stage play (keeping the film's ending), and librettist Alan Jay Lerner
Alan Jay Lerner
Alan Jay Lerner was an American lyricist and librettist. In collaboration with Frederick Loewe, he created some of the world's most popular and enduring works of musical theatre for both the stage and on film...

 kept generous chunks of Shaw's dialogue, and the characters' names, unchanged.

Shaw's outlook was changed by World War I, which he uncompromisingly opposed despite incurring outrage from the public as well as from many friends. His first full-length piece, presented after the War, written mostly during it, was Heartbreak House
Heartbreak House
Heartbreak House is a play written by George Bernard Shaw, first published in 1919 and first played at the Garrick Theatre in 1920. According to A. C. Ward, the work argues that "cultured, leisured Europe" was drifting toward destruction, and that "Those in a position to guide Europe to safety...

(1919). A new Shaw had emerged—the wit remained, but his faith in humanity had dwindled. In the preface to Heartbreak House he said:

"It is said that every people has the Government it deserves. It is more to the point that every Government has the electorate it deserves; for the orators of the front bench can edify or debauch an ignorant electorate at will. Thus our democracy moves in a vicious circle of reciprocal worthiness and unworthiness."



Shaw had previously supported gradual democratic change toward socialism, but now he saw more hope in government by benign strong men. This sometimes made him oblivious to the dangers of dictatorships. Near his life's end that hope failed him too. In the first act of Buoyant Billions (1946–48), his last full-length play, his protagonist asks:

"Why appeal to the mob when ninetyfive per cent of them do not understand politics, and can do nothing but mischief without leaders? And what sort of leaders do they vote for? For Titus Oates and Lord George Gordon with their Popish plots, for Hitlers who call on them to exterminate Jews, for Mussolinis who rally them to nationalist dreams of glory and empire in which all foreigners are enemies to be subjugated."


In 1921, Shaw completed Back to Methuselah
Back to Methuselah
Back to Methuselah , by George Bernard Shaw consists of a preface and a series of five plays: In the Beginning: B.C. 4004 , The Gospel of the Brothers Barnabas: Present Day, The Thing Happens: A.D. 2170, Tragedy of an Elderly Gentleman: A.D. 3000, and As Far as Thought Can Reach: A.D...

, his "Metabiological Pentateuch". The massive, five-play work starts in the Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

 and ends thousands of years in the future; it showcases Shaw's postulate that a "Life Force" directs evolution toward ultimate perfection by trial and error. Shaw proclaimed the play a masterpiece, but many critics disagreed. The theme of a benign force directing evolution reappears in
Geneva (1938), wherein Shaw maintains humans must develop longer lifespans in order to acquire the wisdom needed for self-government.

Methuselah was followed by Saint Joan
Saint Joan (play)
Saint Joan is a play by George Bernard Shaw, based on the life and trial of Joan of Arc. Published not long after the canonization of Joan of Arc by the Roman Catholic Church, the play dramatises what is known of her life based on the substantial records of her trial. Shaw studied the transcripts...

 (1923), which is generally considered to be one of his better works. Shaw had long considered writing about Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

, and her canonization in 1920 supplied a strong incentive. The play was an international success, and is believed to have led to his Nobel Prize in Literature. The citation praised his work as "...marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty". At this time Prime Minister David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 was considering recommending to the King Shaw's admission to the Order of Merit
Order of Merit
The Order of Merit is a British dynastic order recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture...

, but the place was instead given to J. M. Barrie
J. M. Barrie
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan. The child of a family of small-town weavers, he was educated in Scotland. He moved to London, where he developed a career as a novelist and playwright...

. Shaw rejected a knighthood. It was not until 1946 that the government of the day arranged for an informal offer of the Order of Merit to be made: Shaw declined, replying that "merit" in authorship could only be determined by the posthumous verdict of history.

He wrote plays for the rest of his life, but very few of them are as notable—or as often revived—as his earlier work. The Apple Cart
The Apple Cart
The Apple Cart: A Political Extravaganza is a 1928 play by George Bernard Shaw. It is satirical comedy about several political philosophies which are expounded by the characters, often in lengthy monologue...

(1929) was probably his most popular work of this era. Later full-length plays like Too True to Be Good (1931), On the Rocks (1933), The Millionairess (1935), and Geneva (1938) have been seen as marking a decline. His last significant play, In Good King Charles Golden Days has, according to St. John Ervine, passages that are equal to Shaw's major works.

Shaw's published plays come with lengthy prefaces. These tend to be more about Shaw's opinions on the issues addressed by the plays than about the plays themselves. Often his prefaces are longer than the plays they introduce. For example, the Penguin Books
Penguin Books
Penguin Books is a publisher founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane and V.K. Krishna Menon. Penguin revolutionised publishing in the 1930s through its high quality, inexpensive paperbacks, sold through Woolworths and other high street stores for sixpence. Penguin's success demonstrated that large...

 edition of his one-act
The Shewing-up Of Blanco Posnet (1909) has a 67-page preface for the 29-page playscript.

Polemics


In a letter to Henry James
Henry James
Henry James, OM was an American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr., a clergyman, and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James....

 dated 17 January 1909, Shaw said:
"I, as a Socialist, have had to preach, as much as anyone, the enormous power of the environment. We can change it; we must change it; there is absolutely no other sense in life than the task of changing it. What is the use of writing plays, what is the use of writing anything, if there is not a will which finally moulds chaos itself into a race of gods."


Thus he viewed writing as a way to further his humanitarian and political agenda. His works were very popular because of their comedic content, but the public tended to disregard his messages and enjoy his work as pure entertainment. He was acutely aware of that. His preface to Heartbreak House (1919) attributes the rejection to the need of post-World War I audiences for frivolities, after four long years of grim privation, more than to their inborn distaste of instruction. His crusading nature led him to adopt and tenaciously hold a variety of causes, which he furthered with fierce intensity, heedless of opposition and ridicule. For example, Common Sense about the War (1914) lays out Shaw's strong objections at the onset of World War I. His stance ran counter to public sentiment and cost him dearly at the box-office, but he never compromised.

Shaw joined in the public opposition to vaccination
Vaccine controversy
A vaccine controversy is a dispute over the morality, ethics, effectiveness, or safety of vaccinations. Medical and scientific evidence surrounding vaccinations generally demonstrate that the benefits of preventing suffering and death from infectious diseases outweigh rare adverse effects of...

 against smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

, calling it "a particularly filthy piece of witchcraft", despite having nearly died from the disease when he contracted it in 1881. In the preface to Doctor's Dilemma he made it plain he regarded traditional medical treatment as dangerous quackery that should be replaced with sound public sanitation, good personal hygiene and diets devoid of meat. Shaw became a vegetarian while he was twenty-five, after hearing a lecture by H.F. Lester. In 1901, remembering the experience, he said "I was a cannibal for twenty-five years. For the rest I have been a vegetarian." As a staunch vegetarian, he was a firm anti-vivisectionist and antagonistic to cruel sports for the remainder of his life. The belief in the immorality of eating animals was one of the Fabian causes near his heart and is frequently a topic in his plays and prefaces. His position, succinctly stated, was "A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses."

As well as plays and prefaces, Shaw wrote long political treatises, such as Fabian Essays in Socialism (1889), and The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism is a book written by the famous Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. This book employs socialist and Marxist thought. It was written in 1928, and later re-released as the first Pelican Book in 1937....

(1912), a 495-page book detailing all aspects of socialistic theory as Shaw interpreted it. Excerpts of the latter were republished in 1928 as Socialism and Liberty, Late in his life he wrote another guide to political issues, Everybody's Political What's What (1944).

Correspondence and friends


Shaw corresponded with an array of people, many of them well-known. His letters to and from Mrs. Patrick Campbell were adapted for the stage by Jerome Kilty
Jerome Kilty
Jerome Kilty is an American actor and playwright. He wrote Dear Liar: A Comedy of Letters, a play that had a successful run in New York, which was based on the correspondence of famed playwright George Bernard Shaw and actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell...

 as
Dear Liar: A Comedy of Letters, as was his correspondence with the poet Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas
Lord Alfred Douglas
Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas , nicknamed Bosie, was a British author, poet and translator, better known as the intimate friend and lover of the writer Oscar Wilde...

 (the intimate friend of Oscar Wilde), into the drama
Bernard and Bosie: A Most Unlikely Friendship by Anthony Wynn
Anthony Wynn
Anthony Wynn is an American author and playwright.-Playwright:Wynn's two-act, two-actor drama Bernard and Bosie: A Most Unlikely Friendship, explores the complex relationship between playwright George Bernard Shaw and poet Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas. It is based on correspondence exchanged...

. His letters to the prominent actress, Ellen Terry
Ellen Terry
Dame Ellen Terry, GBE was an English stage actress who became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain. Among the members of her famous family is her great nephew, John Gielgud....

, to the boxer Gene Tunney
Gene Tunney
James Joseph "Gene" Tunney was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1926-1928 who defeated Jack Dempsey twice, first in 1926 and then in 1927. Tunney's successful title defense against Dempsey is one of the most famous bouts in boxing history and is known as The Long Count Fight...

, and to H.G. Wells,
have also been published. Eventually the volume of his correspondence became insupportable, as can be inferred from apologetic letters written by assistants.
Shaw campaigned against the executions of the rebel leaders of the Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

, and he became a personal friend of the Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

-born IRA
Irish Republican Army (1922–1969)
The original Irish Republican Army fought a guerrilla war against British rule in Ireland in the Irish War of Independence 1919–1921. Following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921, the IRA in the 26 counties that were to become the Irish Free State split between supporters and...

 leader Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

, whom he invited to his home for dinner while Collins was negotiating the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

 with Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 in London. After Collins's assassination in 1922, Shaw sent a personal message of condolence to one of Collins's sisters. He had an enduring friendship with G. K. Chesterton
G. K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction....

, the Roman Catholic-convert British writer. Shaw also enjoyed a personal friendship with T.E. Lawrence, known most notably for his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom and his role as liaison for the Arab revolt during World War I. Lawrence even used the name "Shaw" as his nom de guerre when he joined the Royal Air Force as an aircraftman in the 1920s.

Another friend was the composer Edward Elgar
Edward Elgar
Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet OM, GCVO was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos...

, whose work Shaw revered. Though Elgar was a Conservative, they had interests, besides music, in common – for instance both opposed vivisection. Elgar dedicated one of his late works, Severn Suite, to Shaw; and Shaw exerted himself (eventually with success) to persuade the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 to commission from Elgar a third symphony, though this piece remained incomplete at Elgar's death. Shaw's correspondence with the motion picture producer Gabriel Pascal
Gabriel Pascal
Gabriel Pascal was a Hungarian film producer and director.Born 1894 in Arad, Austria-Hungary , Pascal was the first film producer to bring the plays of George Bernard Shaw successfully to the screen. His most famous production was Pygmalion, for which Pascal himself received an Academy Award...

, who was the first to bring Shaw's plays successfully to the screen and who later tried to put into motion a musical adaptation of
Pygmalion, but died before he could realize it, is published in a book titled Bernard Shaw and Gabriel Pascal.,
A stage play by Hugh Whitemore
Hugh Whitemore
Hugh Whitemore is an English playwright and screenwriter.Whitemore studied for the stage at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he is now a Member of the Council. He began his writing career in British television with both original teleplays and adaptations of classic works by Charles...

,
The Best of Friends, provides a window on the friendships of Dame Laurentia McLachlan
Laurentia McLachlan
Dame Laurentia McLachlan, OSB was born in 1866 in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland. In 1884 she joined the Benedictine Abbey at Stanbrook Abbey. In 1931 she was elected Abbess of Stanbrook...

, OSB (late Abbess of Stanbrook) with Sir Sydney Cockerell and Shaw through adaptations from their letters and writings. A television adaptation of the play, aired on PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

, starred John Gielgud
John Gielgud
Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937...

 as Cockerell, Wendy Hiller
Wendy Hiller
Dame Wendy Margaret Hiller DBE was an Academy Award-winning English film and stage actress, who enjoyed a varied acting career that spanned nearly sixty years. The writer Joel Hirschorn, in his 1984 compilation Rating the Movie Stars, described her as "a no-nonsense actress who literally took...

 as Laurentia, and Patrick McGoohan
Patrick McGoohan
Patrick Joseph McGoohan was an American-born actor, raised in Ireland and England, with an extensive stage and film career, most notably in the 1960s television series Danger Man , and The Prisoner, which he co-created...

 as Shaw. It is available on DVD.

Photography


Shaw bought his first camera in 1898 and was an active amateur photographer until his death in 1950. Before 1898 Shaw had been an early supporter of photography as a serious art form. His non-fiction writing includes many reviews of photographic exhibitions such as those by his friend Alvin Langdon Coburn
Alvin Langdon Coburn
Alvin Langdon Coburn was an early 20th century photographer who became a key figure in the development of American pictorialism...

.

The photographs document a prolific literary and political life – Shaw's friends, travels, politics, plays, films and home life. It also records his experiments with photography over 50 years and for the photographic historian provides a record of the development of the photographic and printing techniques available to the amateur photographer between 1898 and 1950.

The collection is currently the subject of a major project, Man & Cameraman which will allow online access to thousands of photos taken by Shaw.

Politics


Shaw asserted that each social class strove to serve its own ends, and that the upper and middle classes won in the struggle while the working class lost. He condemned the democratic system of his time, saying that workers, ruthlessly exploited by greedy employers, lived in abject poverty and were too ignorant and apathetic to vote intelligently.
He believed this deficiency would ultimately be corrected by the emergence of long-lived supermen with experience and intelligence enough to govern properly. He called the developmental process elective breeding but it is sometimes referred to as shavian eugenics, largely because he thought it was driven by a "Life Force" that led women — subconsciously — to select the mates most likely to give them superior children.
The outcome Shaw envisioned is dramatised in
Back to Methuselah, a monumental play depicting human development from its beginning in the Garden of Eden until the distant future.

In 1882, influenced by Henry George
Henry George
Henry George was an American writer, politician and political economist, who was the most influential proponent of the land value tax, also known as the "single tax" on land...

's views on land nationalization, Shaw concluded that private ownership of land and its exploitation for personal profit was a form of theft, and advocated equitable distribution of land and natural resources
Natural Resources
Natural Resources is a soul album released by Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1970 on the Gordy label. The album is significant for the Vietnam War ballad "I Should Be Proud" and the slow jam, "Love Guess Who"...

 and their control by governments intent on promoting the commonwealth. Shaw believed that income for individuals should come solely from the sale of their own labour and that poverty could be eliminated by giving equal pay to everyone. These concepts led Shaw to apply for membership of the Social Democratic Federation
Social Democratic Federation
The Social Democratic Federation was established as Britain's first organised socialist political party by H. M. Hyndman, and had its first meeting on June 7, 1881. Those joining the SDF included William Morris, George Lansbury and Eleanor Marx. However, Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx's long-term...

 (SDF), led by H. M. Hyndman who introduced him to the works of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

. Shaw never joined the SDF, which favoured forcible reforms. Instead, in 1884, he joined the newly formed Fabian Society
Fabian Society
The Fabian Society is a British socialist movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World...

, which accorded with his belief that reform should be gradual and induced by peaceful means rather than by outright revolution.
Shaw was an active Fabian. He wrote many of their pamphlets, lectured tirelessly on behalf of their causes and provided money to set up The New Age
The New Age
The New Age was a British literary magazine, noted for its wide influence under the editorship of A. R. Orage from 1907 to 1922. It began life in 1894 as a publication of the Christian Socialist movement; but in 1907 as a radical weekly edited by Joseph Clayton, it was struggling...

, an independent socialist journal. As a Fabian, he participated in the formation of the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

.
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism is a book written by the famous Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. This book employs socialist and Marxist thought. It was written in 1928, and later re-released as the first Pelican Book in 1937....

provides a clear statement of his socialistic views. As evinced in plays like Major Barbara and Pygmalion, class struggle is a motif in much of Shaw's writing.

Oscar Wilde was the sole literary signatory of Shaw's petition for a pardon of the anarchists arrested (and later executed) after the Haymarket massacre
Haymarket affair
The Haymarket affair was a demonstration and unrest that took place on Tuesday May 4, 1886, at the Haymarket Square in Chicago. It began as a rally in support of striking workers. An unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police as they dispersed the public meeting...

 in Chicago in 1886.

Shaw opposed the execution of Sir Roger Casement in 1916. He wrote a letter "as an Irishman" to The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, which they rejected, but it was subsequently printed by both the Manchester Guardian on 22 July 1916, and by the New York American on 13 August 1916.

In a newsreel
Newsreel
A newsreel was a form of short documentary film prevalent in the first half of the 20th century, regularly released in a public presentation place and containing filmed news stories and items of topical interest. It was a source of news, current affairs and entertainment for millions of moviegoers...

 interview released on 5 March 1931, dealing with alternatives to the imprisonment of criminals, Shaw says

Shaw, however, often used satiric irony in order to mock those who took eugenics to inhumane extremes and commentators have sometimes failed to take this into account. Similarly, in the 18th century, Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

 had made his modest proposal
A Modest Proposal
A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick, commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, is a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in...

 that babies of the poor could be used as food.

Shaw was not necessarilly better informed about actual conditions in other countries than other people were at the time, and tended to believe the best of people who professed similar principes to those he held himself. This led to him taking some positions that now seem grotesque.

After visiting the USSR in the 1930s where he met Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, Shaw became a supporter of the Stalinist USSR.
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 On 11 October 1931 he broadcast a lecture on American national radio telling his audience that any 'skilled workman...of suitable age and good character' would be welcomed and given work in the Soviet Union. Tim Tzouliadis asserts that hundreds of Americans responded to his suggestion and left for the USSR.

Shaw continued this support for Soviet communism in the preface to his play On the Rocks (1933) writing:
Yet, Shaw also maintained that the killing should be humane. In the preface to On the Rocks, Shaw includes a criticism of the pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s conducted by the State Political Directorate
State Political Directorate
The State Political Directorate was the secret police of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Soviet Union from 1922 until 1934...

 (OGPU). He compares their logic to that of other societies throughout human history, and writes:
The preface concludes:
In an open letter to the Manchester Guardian in 1933, he dismissed stories—which were later determined to be largely substantiated—of a Soviet famine
Holodomor
The Holodomor was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "terror-famine in Ukraine" and "famine-genocide in Ukraine", millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of...

 as slanderous, and contrasts them with the hardships then current in the West during the Great Depression:
In the preface to On The Rocks he wrote:
He wrote a defence of Lysenkoism
Lysenkoism
Lysenkoism, or Lysenko-Michurinism, also denotes the biological inheritance principle which Trofim Lysenko subscribed to and which derive from theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics, a body of biological inheritance theory which departs from Mendelism and that Lysenko named...

 in a letter to Labour Monthly, in which he asserted that an "acquired characteristic" could be heritable, writing of Lysenko
Trofim Lysenko
Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was a Soviet agronomist of Ukrainian origin, who was director of Soviet biology under Joseph Stalin. Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of the hybridization theories of Russian horticulturist Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, and adopted them into a powerful...

: "Following up Michurin's agricultural experiments he found that it is possible to extend the area of soil cultivation by breeding strains of wheat that flourish in a sub-Arctic climate, and transmit this acquired characteristic to its seed." He added:

Despite Shaw's scepticism about the creation of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

, he was supportive of Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

's stance on the Second World War, including his policy of refusing to fall in line with the Allies' demand towards neutral countries on refusing to provide asylum to Axis refugees during the war. According to Shaw "The voice of the Irish gentleman and Spanish grandee was a welcome relief from the chorus of retaliatory rancor and self-righteousness then deafening us".

Eugenics


Shaw delivered speeches on and the theory of eugenics
Eugenics
Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance,...

 and he became a noted figure in the movement in England.

Shaw's play Man and Superman
Man and Superman
Man and Superman is a four-act drama, written by George Bernard Shaw in 1903. The series was written in response to calls for Shaw to write a play based on the Don Juan theme. Man and Superman opened at The Royal Court Theatre in London on 23 May 1905, but with the omission of the 3rd Act...

 (1903) has been said to be "invested with eugenic doctrines" and "an ironic reworking" of Nietzsche's concept of Übermensch
Übermensch
The Übermensch is a concept in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche posited the Übermensch as a goal for humanity to set for itself in his 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra ....

. The main character in the play, John Tanner, is the author of "The Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion", which Shaw published along with his play. The Revolutionist's Handbook includes chapters on "Good Breeding" and "Property and Marriage". In the "Property and Marriage" section Tanner writes:
"To cut humanity up into small cliques, and effectively limit the selection of the individual to his own clique, is to postpone the Superman for eons, if not for ever. Not only should every person be nourished and trained as a possible parent, but there should be no possibility of such an obstacle to natural selection as the objection of a countess to a navvy or of a duke to a charwoman. Equality is essential to good breeding; and equality, as all economists know, is incompatible with property."
In this Shaw was managing to synthesize eugenics with socialism, his best-loved political doctrine. This was a popular concept at the time.

When, in 1910, Shaw wrote that natural attraction rather than wealth or social class should govern selection of marriage partners, the concept of eugenics did not have the negative connotations it later acquired after having been adopted by the National Socialists
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 of Germany. Shaw sometimes treated the topic in a light-hearted way, pointing out that if eugenics had been thought about some generations previously, he himself may not have been born, so depriving humanity of his great contributions. He seems to have maintained his opinion throughout his life.

As with many of the topics which Shaw addressed, but particularly so in his examination of the "social purity" movement, he used irony, misdirection and satire to make his point. At a meeting of the Eugenics Education Society of 3 March 1910 he suggested the need to use a "lethal chamber" to solve their problem. Shaw said: "We should find ourselves committed to killing a great many people whom we now leave living, and to leave living a great many people whom we at present kill. We should have to get rid of all ideas about capital punishment ..." Shaw also called for the development of a "deadly" but "humane" gas for the purpose of killing, many at a time, those unfit to live. Some noticed that this was an example of Shaw satirically employing the reductio ad absurdum
Reductio ad absurdum
In logic, proof by contradiction is a form of proof that establishes the truth or validity of a proposition by showing that the proposition's being false would imply a contradiction...

argument against the eugenicists' wilder aspirations: The Globe
The Globe (London newspaper)
The Globe was a British London newspaper founded in 1803 and merged with the Pall Mall Gazette in 1921....

and The Evening News  recognised it as a skit on the dreams of the eugenicists, though many others in the press took his words out of their satirical context. Dan Stone of Liverpool University writes: "Either the press believed Shaw to be serious, and vilified him, or recognised the tongue-in-cheek nature of his lecture".

Religion


In his will, Shaw stated that his "religious convictions and scientific views cannot at present be more specifically defined than as those of a believer in creative revolution." He requested that no one should imply that he accepted the beliefs of any specific religious organization, and that no memorial to him should "take the form of a cross or any other instrument of torture or symbol of blood sacrifice."

Legacy



In his old age, Shaw was a household name both in Britain and Ireland, and was famed throughout the world. His ironic wit endowed English with the adjective "Shavian", used to characterize observations such as: "My way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest joke in the world." Concerned about the vagaries of English spelling, Shaw willed a portion of his wealth (probated at £367,233 13s) to fund the creation of a new phonemic
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

 alphabet for the English language. However, the money available was insufficient to support the project, so it was neglected for a time. This changed when his estate began earning significant royalties from the rights to Pygmalion after My Fair Lady—the musical adapted from Pygmalion by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe—became a hit. However, the Public Trustee
Public trustee
The public trustee is an office established pursuant to national statute, to act as a trustee, usually where a sum is required to be deposited as security by legislation, where courts remove another trustee, or for estates where either no executor is named by will or the testator elects to name...

 found the intended trust to be invalid because its intent was to serve a private interest instead of a charitable purpose, and as a non-charitable purpose trust, it could not be enforced because it failed to satisfy the beneficiary principle. In the end an out-of-court settlement granted only £8600 for promoting the new alphabet, which is now called the Shavian alphabet
Shavian alphabet
The Shavian alphabet is an alphabet conceived as a way to provide simple, phonetic orthography for the English language to replace the difficulties of the conventional spelling. It was posthumously funded by and named after Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw...

. The National Gallery of Ireland
National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland houses the Irish national collection of Irish and European art. It is located in the centre of Dublin with one entrance on Merrion Square, beside Leinster House, and another on Clare Street. It was founded in 1854 and opened its doors ten years later...

, RADA
Rada
Rada is the term for "council" or "assembly"borrowed by Polish from the Low Franconian "Rad" and later passed into the Czech, Ukrainian, and Belarusian languages....

 and the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 all received substantial bequests.

Shaw's home, now called Shaw's Corner
Shaw's Corner
Shaw's Corner was the primary residence of the renowned Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw; now a historic National Trust property open to the public. Inside the house, the rooms remain much as Shaw left them, and the garden and Shaw's writing hut can also be visited...

, in the small village of Ayot St Lawrence
Ayot St Lawrence
Ayot St Lawrence is a small village and civil parish in Hertfordshire, between Harpenden and Welwyn. There are several other Ayots in the area, including Ayot Green and Ayot St Peter....

, Hertfordshire is a National Trust
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 property, open to the public. The Shaw Theatre
Shaw Theatre
The Shaw Theatre is a theatre in Somers Town, in the London Borough of Camden. It is located near the Euston Road, beside the British Library and St Pancras Chambers , equidistant from King's Cross station and Euston station....

, Euston Road
Euston Road
Euston Road is an important thoroughfare in central London, England, and forms part of the A501. It is part of the New Road from Paddington to Islington, and was opened as part of the New Road in 1756...

, London, opened in 1971, was named in his honour. Near its entrance, opposite the new British Library
British Library
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and is the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is a major research library, holding over 150 million items from every country in the world, in virtually all known languages and in many formats,...

, a contemporary statue of Saint Joan commemorates Shaw as author of that play.

The Shaw Festival
Shaw Festival
The Shaw Festival is a major Canadian theatre festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, the second largest repertory theatre company in North America...

, an annual theater festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a Canadian town located in Southern Ontario where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario in the Niagara Region of the southern part of the province of Ontario. It is located across the Niagara river from Youngstown, New York, USA...

, Ontario, Canada began as an eight week run of
Don Juan in Hell (as the long third act dream sequence of Man And Superman is called when staged alone) and Candida
Candida (play)
Candida, a comedy by playwright George Bernard Shaw, was first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife Candida and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Candida's affections. The play questions Victorian notions...

 in 1962, and has grown into an annual festival with over 800 performances a year, dedicated to producing the works of Shaw and his contemporaries. The portrait of George Bernard Shaw located at Niagara-on-the-Lake was commissioned by hotelier Si Wai Lai and sculpted by Dr. Elizabeth Bradford Holbrook
Elizabeth Bradford Holbrook
Elizabeth Bradford Holbrook, CM, O.Ont was a Canadian portrait sculptor, medal designer and liturgical artist...

, CM (1913–2009).

He is also remembered as one of the pivotal founders of the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

, whose library is now called the British Library of Political and Economic Science
British Library of Political and Economic Science
The British Library of Political and Economic Science is the main library of theLondon School of Economics and Political Science, and the world's largest political and social sciences library .-Description:...

. The Fabian Window
Fabian Window
The founders of the Fabian Society are depicted in the famous stained-glass Fabian Windowdesigned by George Bernard Shaw. The window was stolen in 1978 and reappeared at Sotheby's in 2005...

, designed by Shaw, hangs in the Shaw Library
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 in the main building of the LSE.

Novels

  • Immaturity
  • Cashel Byron's Profession
    Cashel Byron's Profession
    Cashel Byron's Profession is George Bernard Shaw's fourth novel. The novel was written in 1882 and after rejection by several publishers it was published in serialized form in a socialist magazine. The novel was later published as a book in England and the United States...

  • An Unsocial Socialist
  • The Irrational Knot
  • Love Among the Artists

Drama



  • Plays Unpleasant (published 1898)
    • Widowers' Houses
      Widowers' Houses
      Widowers' Houses was the first play by Nobel Prize in literature winner George Bernard Shaw to be staged. It premièred on 9 December 1892 at the Royalty Theatre, under the auspices of the Independent Theatre Society — a subscription club, formed to escape the Lord Chamberlain's Office...

      (1892)
    • The Philanderer
      The Philanderer
      The Philanderer is a play by George Bernard Shaw.It was written in 1893 but the strict British Censorship laws at the time meant that it was not produced on stage until 1902....

      (1898)
    • Mrs Warren's Profession (1893)
  • Plays Pleasant (published 1898):
    • Arms and the Man
      Arms and the Man
      Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw, whose title comes from the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid in Latin:"Arma virumque cano" ....

      (1894)
    • Candida
      Candida (play)
      Candida, a comedy by playwright George Bernard Shaw, was first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife Candida and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Candida's affections. The play questions Victorian notions...

      (1894)
    • The Man of Destiny
      The Man of Destiny
      The Man of Destiny is an 1897 play by George Bernard Shaw. It was published as a part of Plays Pleasant, which also included Arms and the Man, Candida and You Never Can Tell. Shaw titled the volume Plays Pleasant in order to contrast it with his first book of plays, Plays Unpleasant....

      (1895)
    • You Never Can Tell (1897)
  • Three Plays for Puritans
    Three Plays for Puritans
    Three Plays for Puritans is a collection of plays by George Bernard Shaw published in 1901.It consists of The Devil's Disciple , Caesar and Cleopatra and Captain Brassbound's Conversion , with a long preface by Shaw in three parts in which he expounds many of his thoughts on drama.The title later...

    (published 1901)
    • The Devil's Disciple
      The Devil's Disciple
      The Devil's Disciple is an 1897 play written by Irish dramatist, George Bernard Shaw. The play is Shaw's eighth, and after Richard Mansfield's original 1897 American production it was his first financial success, which helped to affirm his career as a playwright...

      (1897)
    • Caesar and Cleopatra
      Caesar and Cleopatra (play)
      Caesar and Cleopatra, a play written in 1898 by George Bernard Shaw, was first staged in 1901 and first published with Captain Brassbound's Conversion and The Devil's Disciple in his 1901 collection, Three Plays for Puritans. It was first performed at Newcastle-on-Tyne on March 15, 1899...

      (1898)
    • Captain Brassbound's Conversion
      Captain Brassbound's Conversion
      Captain Brassbound's Conversion is a play by G. Bernard Shaw. It was published in Shaw's 1901 collection Three Plays for Puritans . The first American production of the play starred Ellen Terry in 1907....

      (1899)
  • The Admirable Bashville (1901)
  • Man and Superman
    Man and Superman
    Man and Superman is a four-act drama, written by George Bernard Shaw in 1903. The series was written in response to calls for Shaw to write a play based on the Don Juan theme. Man and Superman opened at The Royal Court Theatre in London on 23 May 1905, but with the omission of the 3rd Act...

    (1902–03)
  • John Bull's Other Island
    John Bull's Other Island
    John Bull's Other Island is a comedy about Ireland, written by G. Bernard Shaw in 1904. Shaw himself was born in Dublin, yet this is the only play of his where he thematically returned to his homeland....

    (1904)
  • How He Lied to Her Husband (1904)
  • Major Barbara (1905)
  • The Doctor's Dilemma (1906)
  • Getting Married
    Getting Married
    Getting Married is a play by George Bernard Shaw. First performed in 1908, it features a cast of family members who gather together for a marriage. The play analyses and satirises the status of marriage in Shaw's day, with a particular focus on the necessity of liberalising divorce laws.- External...

    (1908)
  • The Glimpse of Reality (1909)
  • The Fascinating Foundling (1909)
  • Press Cuttings (1909)
  • Misalliance
    Misalliance
    Misalliance is a play written in 1909–1910 by George Bernard Shaw.Misalliance takes place entirely on a single Saturday afternoon in the conservatory of a large country house in Hindhead, Surrey in Edwardian era England. It is a continuation of some of the ideas on marriage that he expressed in...

    (1910)
  • Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress (1917)
  • The Dark Lady of the Sonnets
    The Dark Lady of the Sonnets
    The Dark Lady of the Sonnets is a 1910 short play by George Bernard Shaw on William Shakespeare and the "Dark Lady" character in his sonnets.-External links:*...

    (1910)

  • Fanny's First Play
    Fanny's First Play
    Fanny's First Play is a 1911 play by G. Bernard Shaw. It was written anonymously, then later discovered to be the work of George Bernard Shaw and produced by the Shubert family. It opened at the Adelphi Theatre at Westminster in London on April 19, 1911 and ran for 622 performances , and second...

    (1911)
  • Overruled (1912)
  • Androcles and the Lion
    Androcles and the Lion (play)
    Androcles and the Lion is a 1912 play written by George Bernard Shaw.Androcles and the Lion is Shaw's retelling of the tale of Androcles, a slave who is saved by the requited mercy of a lion. In the play, Shaw portrays Androcles to be one of the many Christians being led to the Colosseum for torture...

    (1912)
  • Pygmalion
    Pygmalion (play)
    Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts is a play by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of...

    (1912–13)
  • The Great Catherine (1913)
  • The Inca of Perusalem (1915)
  • O'Flaherty VC (1915)
  • Augustus Does His Bit (1916)
  • Heartbreak House
    Heartbreak House
    Heartbreak House is a play written by George Bernard Shaw, first published in 1919 and first played at the Garrick Theatre in 1920. According to A. C. Ward, the work argues that "cultured, leisured Europe" was drifting toward destruction, and that "Those in a position to guide Europe to safety...

    (1919)
  • Back to Methuselah
    Back to Methuselah
    Back to Methuselah , by George Bernard Shaw consists of a preface and a series of five plays: In the Beginning: B.C. 4004 , The Gospel of the Brothers Barnabas: Present Day, The Thing Happens: A.D. 2170, Tragedy of an Elderly Gentleman: A.D. 3000, and As Far as Thought Can Reach: A.D...

    (1921)
    • In the Beginning
    • The Gospel of the Brothers Barnabas
    • The Thing Happens
    • Tragedy of an Elderly Gentleman
    • As Far as Thought Can Reach
  • Saint Joan
    Saint Joan (play)
    Saint Joan is a play by George Bernard Shaw, based on the life and trial of Joan of Arc. Published not long after the canonization of Joan of Arc by the Roman Catholic Church, the play dramatises what is known of her life based on the substantial records of her trial. Shaw studied the transcripts...

    (1923)
  • The Apple Cart
    The Apple Cart
    The Apple Cart: A Political Extravaganza is a 1928 play by George Bernard Shaw. It is satirical comedy about several political philosophies which are expounded by the characters, often in lengthy monologue...

    (1929)
  • Too True To Be Good (1931)
  • On the Rocks (1933)
  • The Six of Calais (1934)
  • The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles (1934)
  • The Shewing Up of Blanco Posnet (1909)
  • The Millionairess (1936)
  • Geneva (1938)
  • In Good King Charles's Golden Days
    In Good King Charles's Golden Days
    In Good King Charles's Golden Days is a play by George Bernard Shaw, subtitled A True History that Never Happened.It was written in 1938-39 as an "educational history film" for film director Gabriel Pascal in the aftermath of Pygmalions cinema triumph...

    (1939)
  • Buoyant Billions (1947)
  • Shakes versus Shav
    Shakes versus Shav
    Shakes versus Shav is a puppet play written by George Bernard Shaw. It was Shaw's penultimate dramatic work. The play runs for 20 minutes in performance....

    (1949)


Essays

  • Quintessence of Ibsenism
    Quintessence of Ibsenism
    The Quintessence of Ibsenism is an essay written in 1891 by George Bernard Shaw, providing an extended analysis of the works of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and of Ibsen's critical reception in England...

    (1891)
  • The Perfect Wagnerite, Commentary on the Ring (1898)
  • Maxims for Revolutionists (1903)
  • Preface to Major Barbara (1905)
  • "On Going to Church" (1905)
  • How to Write a Popular Play (1909)
  • Treatise on Parents and Children (1910)
  • Common Sense about the War (1914)
  • The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism
    The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism
    The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism is a book written by the famous Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. This book employs socialist and Marxist thought. It was written in 1928, and later re-released as the first Pelican Book in 1937....

    (1928)
  • Major Critical Essays (1930). Quintessence of Ibsenism
    Quintessence of Ibsenism
    The Quintessence of Ibsenism is an essay written in 1891 by George Bernard Shaw, providing an extended analysis of the works of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and of Ibsen's critical reception in England...

    (1891), The Perfect Wagnerite (1898) and The Sanity of Art in one volume.
  • Essays in Fabian Socialism (1931). Revised and reprinted in the Standard Edition, 1932.
  • Pen Portraits and Reviews (1931). Revised and reprinted in the Standard Edition, 1932.
  • Doctors' Delusions, Crude Criminology, Sham Education (1931). Revised and reprinted in the Standard Edition, 1932.
  • Short Stories, Scraps and Shavings (1932). Revised and reprinted in the Standard Edition, 1934.
  • Our Theatres in the Nineties (1932). Collected drama criticism.
  • Dictators – Let Us Have More of Them (1938)
  • Everybody's Political What's What? (1944)
  • Sixteen Self Sketches (1949)
  • The Selected Prose of Bernard Shaw (1952). Selected and with Introduction by Diarmuid Russell. One thousand pages of essays, criticism, extracts from novels, etc. Contains The Perfect Wagnerite and The Quintessence of Ibsenism complete, including prefaces. Also contains Shaw's biographical prefaces to Immaturity and London Music in 1888–1889. Thematically organised and finely introduced. Excellent introduction to the scope of Shaw's prose.
  • Shaw on Shakespeare: An Anthology of Bernard Shaw's Writings (1961)
  • Shaw: An Autobiography (1970). Selected and edited by Stanley Weintraub. 2 vols.
  • What Shaw Really Wrote about the War (2006). Edited by J. L. Wisenthal and Daniel O'Leary.

Musical Criticism

  • Music in London 1890–94. Criticism Contributed Week by Week to the World. 3 vols, 1932.
  • London Music in 1888–89 as Heard by Corno di Bassetto (later known as Bernard Shaw) with Some Further Autobiographical Particulars, 1937. Contains important, some 30 pages long, preface by Shaw.
  • Collected Music Criticism. New York: Vienna House, 1973. 4 vols. Reprints the two titles above.
  • How to Become a Musical Critic. Rupert Hart-Davis, 1960. Edited and with Introduction by Dan H. Laurence. Previously uncollected pieces on music written between 1883 and 1950.
  • Shaw's Music: The Complete Musical Criticism Of Bernard Shaw. The Bodley Head, Paperback, 1989. 3 vols. Second Revised Edition. Edited by Dan H. Laurence. Definitive edition.
    • Vol. 1: 1876–1890. Editor's Introduction and Notes, including one to the Second Edition.
    • Vol. 2: 1890–1893.
    • Vol. 3: 1893–1950. General Index to all volumes.
      • Note. First published in hardback in 1981. The Second Revised Edition was published only in paperback and it differs from the earlier one by only four short pieces [Dan H. Laurence, 'Editor's Note to the Second Edition'].
  • Shaw on Music. Applause, 2000. Edited by Eric Bentley. Fine, thematically organised selection, mostly from Shaw's professional criticism (1889–1894).
  • The Perfect Wagnerite (1898). Dover edition, 1967. Reprint of the Fourth Edition (1923). Contains the prefaces to the first three editions.

Debate

  • Shaw v. Chesterton, a debate between George Bernard Shaw and G. K. Chesterton (2000) Third Way Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-9535077-7-7. E-text
  • Do We Agree, a debate between G. B. Shaw and G. K. Chesterton with Hilaire Belloc
    Hilaire Belloc
    Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc was an Anglo-French writer and historian who became a naturalised British subject in 1902. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, satirist, man of letters and political activist...

     as chairman (1928)

External links