George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw (July 26, 1856-November 2, 1950) was an Irish playwright and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 1925.
George Bernard Shaw
Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London during the 1870s to embark on his literary career. He wrote five novels, all of which were rejected, before finding his first success as a music critic on the Star newspaper. In the meantime he had become involved in politics, and served as a local councillor in the St Pancras district of London for several years from 1897. He was a noted socialist who took a leading role in the Fabian Society.
In 1895, he became the drama critic of the Saturday Review, and this was the first step in his progress towards a lifetime's work as a dramatist. In 1898, he married an Irish heiress, Charlotte Payne-Townshend. His first successful play, Candida, was produced in the same year. He followed this up with a series of classic comedy-dramas, including The Devil's Disciple (1897), Arms and the Man (1898), Mrs Warren's Profession (1898), Captain Brassbound's Conversion (1900), Man and Superman (1902), Caesar and Cleopatra (1901), Major Barbara (1905), Androcles and the Lion (1912), and Pygmalion (1913). After World War I, on which he took a controversial stance, he produced more serious dramas, including Heartbreak House (1919) and Saint Joan (1923). An interesting characteristic of Shaw's published plays is the lengthy prefaces that accompany them. In those essays, Shaw wrote more about his usually controversial opinions on the issues touched by the plays than about the plays themselves. Some prefaces are much longer than the actual play.
Shaw's correspondence with Mrs. Patrick Campbell was adapted for the stage by Jerome Kilty as DEAR LIAR: A Comedy of Letters. His letters to another prominent actress, Ellen Terry, have also been published and dramatised.
By the time of his death, Shaw was not only a household name in the British Isles, but a world figure. His ironic wit endowed the language with the adjective "Shavian", to refer to such clever observations as "England and America are two countries divided by a common language." http://www.worldandi.com/newhome/public/2003/may/bkpub.asp
Despite the fact that he was a democratic socialist, in the 1930s Shaw approved of the dictatorship of Stalin and even made some ambiguous statements that could be interpreted as being pro-Hitler. In 1945 in his preface to his play Geneva Shaw claimed that the majority of the victims of the Nazi extermination camps had in fact died of 'overcrowding'. However, he also stated that Hitler had become a 'mad messiah' over time: Shaw contrasted this with the situation in the Soviet Union where, according to Shaw 'Stalin.... made good by doing things better and much more promptly than parliaments'. Shaw also made numerous anti-semitic comments at this time, although the extent to which he was merely being ironic or provocative is unclear. His (un-ironic) pro-Stalin bias is undeniable, however, although it is rarely commented on in discussions of his work. Perhaps the best way of looking at Shaw's political position is that he remained in many ways an Edwardian who attempted to apply the lessons of pre-World War I politics to a totalitarian age.
Concerned about the inconsistency of English spelling, he willed a portion of his wealth to fund the creation of a new phonetic alphabet for the English language, known as the Shavian alphabet.
Shaw is the only person ever to have won both a Nobel Prize (Literature in 1925; refused) and an Academy Award (Best Screenplay for Pygmalion in 1938). The Irish National Gallery also received a substancial benefactions.
Whilst we have prisons it matters little which of us occupy the cells.
Novels & essay collections
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