George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

Playwright


Biography


George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland on July 26 1856. He was the youngest child of three and he was tutored in his early years by his clerical uncle. However, his mother also educated him in the arts, taking Shaw to museums, galleries, and libraries. She moved to London after leaving George’s father and, in 1876, Shaw followed with the ambition of becoming a writer.

However, Shaw did not achieve immediate success and his first attempts at writing novels were panned by the publishers he approached. He relied on his mother’s financial support while he wiled away the hours in the British Museum reading room working. While Shaw continued to struggle professionally, his interest in politics was growing and he became heavily involved in the socialist group, The Fabian Society.

Finally, in 1885, Shaw got some work writing book, theater, and music reviews and by 1895 he had been appointed as the theatre critics for the Saturday Review. Working in this world, Shaw turned his hand to writing plays and finally became a published writer. His first plays were published in two volumes (interestingly titled Plays Unpleasant and Plays Pleasant) and, although full of the wit and social criticism that we recognize him for today, they are not his best remembered plays.

By the end of the nineteenth-century, Shaw found his stride and in 1903 he wrote Man and Superman. The third act of this play, “Don Juan in Hell”, became so popular that it was subsequently staged as its own, spin-off play. Theatrical hits including Major Barbara (1905), Pygmalion (1912), Saint Joan (1923) all followed and established Shaw as one of the greatest playwrights of his generation. In 1925, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Famously, Shaw’s play Pygmalion was adapted for the screen in the 1938 film of the same name (for which Shaw won an Oscar for the screenplay) and then for the stage in the musical My Fair Lady in 1956 with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in the lead roles. Harrison reprised his role as Henry Higgins in the 1964 film alongside Audrey Hepburn.

Shaw reached the grand old age of 94, still writing to the end.


Shows by George Bernard Shaw

Title
Synopsis

Androcles is a slave who is abused by his master, Pantalone. Androcles is trying to help two young lovers , Isabella and Lelio. In order to make sure that his niece will not run off with her boyfriend, Pantalone hires the Cap... read more

Arms and the Man takes place during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian war. Raina Petkoff, a wealthy young woman with a taste for melodrama, is engaged to Sergius Saranoff, a dashing major in the Bulgarian army. On the night of her fia... read more

One of George Bernard Shaw’s lesser known works, Candida examines marriage and the relationship between husband and wife in the late Victorian era. It centers around Candida Morell, a beautiful and charming woman who is marri... read more

George Bernard Shaw’s The Dark Lady of the Sonnets is a fun, one act play that reimagines William Shakespeare’s and Queen Elizabeth’s first meeting. Written as an appeal to create a National Theatre in England, the short play... read more

Set during the American Revolutionary War, The Devil’s Disciple follows Richard ‘Dick’ Dudgeon, the rakish reprobate of the play’s title who finds himself an unlikely hero. In Websterbridge, New Hampshire, Richard’s wild ways... read more


How He Lied to Her Husband is a thinly veiled farce of George Bernard Shaw’s wildly successful play Candida. The play is an amusing tale that involves the blurred lines of infidelity, budding romance, and the fear of being ca... read more

Major Barbara explores the conflict between charity and wealth through the lens of the Undershaft family. Barbara, a daughter in the family, is a major in the Salvation Army. Her father, Andrew, is a wealthy munitions manuf... read more

Man and Superman is a massive drama full of both light comedy and deep philosophy, based on Nietzsche's theory of the Abermensch, or superman. Acts I, II, and IV play as romantic comedy with a bite. Ann Whitefield relentle... read more

A Minister’s Wife is a new chamber musical, based on George Bernard Shaw’s play, Candida. It is set in London at the end of the 19th century and hones in on the marriage of the Reverend James Morell and his wife, Candida. How... read more

Misalliance takes place at the estate of John Tarleton one summer afternoon. Tarleton, his wife and children, and various guests gather for a garden party. Tarleton's daughter, Hypatia, is engaged to Bentley Summerhays, but... read more

Young Vivie Warren has lived in England all of her life. She has a very good education, paid for by her mother's work. She barely knows her mother, much less what her mother does for a living. When Mrs. Warren comes to vis... read more

One rainy, London night, phonetics professor Henry Higgins takes in a flower girl named Eliza Doolittle in an effort to win a bet with Colonel Pickering, an expert in Indian dialects. He bets Pickering that he can teach Eliza... read more

Shaw's play is a fictionalized version of the historical life of Joan of Arc. Young Joan, a French farmgirl, hears the voices of saints telling her to raise an army to fight the English. When the war starts to go the way of... read more

What Every Woman Knows centers around the emotional development of John Shand, a humorless young Scotsman whose meteoric political success is due entirely to his wife. However, John fails to recognize the influence and intell... read more

Overview

Nationality
Irish
Born
7/26/1856
Died
11/2/1850
Show Categories
Play, Musical
Genres
Drama, Fairy Tale/Fantasy, Comedy, Satire, Farce, Dark Comedy, Historical/Biographical

Clips