George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

Playwright + Critic + Political Activist

George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. He was also an essayist, novelist and short story writer. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable.… Read More

related links

News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about George Bernard Shaw.


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of George Bernard Shaw.


1856 Birth Born on July 26, 1856.
1862 5 Years Old In 1862 Lee and the Shaws agreed to share a large house, No. 1 Hatch Street, in a better part of Dublin, and also a country cottage on Dalkey Hill, overlooking Killiney Bay. … Read More
1865 8 Years Old Between 1865 and 1871 Shaw attended four schools, all of which he hated. … Read More


1871 14 Years Old In October 1871 he left school to become a junior clerk in a Dublin firm of land agents, where he worked hard, and quickly rose to become head cashier.
1876 19 Years Old 1 More Event
During this period he was known as "George Shaw"; after 1876 he dropped the "George" and styled himself "Bernard Shaw". … Read More


1878 - 1883 5 More Events
1884 27 Years Old 1 More Event
After reading a tract, Why Are The Many Poor?, issued by the recently formed Fabian Society, Shaw went to the society's next advertised meeting, on 16 May 1884. … Read More
1885 28 Years Old 1 More Event
He joined the society's executive committee in January 1885, and later that year recruited Webb and also Annie Besant, a fine orator.
1886 29 Years Old 1 More Event
When in 1886–87 the Fabians debated whether to embrace anarchism, as advocated by Charlotte Wilson, Besant and others, Shaw joined the majority in rejecting this approach.


1887 - 1889 2 More Events
In 1890 Shaw produced Tract No. 13, What Socialism Is, a revision of an earlier tract in which Charlotte Wilson had defined socialism in anarchistic terms. … Read More
1891 34 Years Old …  He championed Ibsen's plays when many theatregoers regarded them as outrageous, and his 1891 book Quintessence of Ibsenism remained a classic throughout the 20th century. … Read More
1892 35 Years Old Back in London, Shaw produced what Margaret Cole, in her Fabian history, terms a "grand philippic" against the minority Liberal administration that had taken power in 1892. … Read More
1895 38 Years Old He was eventually persuaded to support the proposal, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) opened in the summer of 1895. … Read More


1897 40 Years Old In 1897 he was persuaded to fill an uncontested vacancy for a "vestryman" (parish councillor) in London's St Pancras district. … Read More
In 1898, as a result of overwork, Shaw's health broke down. … Read More
1899 - 1900 2 More Events
1903 46 Years Old 1 More Event
By 1903, when his term as borough councillor expired, he had lost his earlier enthusiasm, writing: "After six years of Borough Councilling I am convinced that the borough councils should be abolished".
1904 47 Years Old Nevertheless, in 1904 he stood in the London County Council elections. … Read More
1906 49 Years Old In the years after the 1906 election, Shaw felt that the Fabians needed fresh leadership, and saw this in the form of his fellow-writer H. G. Wells, who had joined the society in February 1903. … Read More


1908 51 Years Old Wells resigned from the society in September 1908; Shaw remained a member, but left the executive in April 1911. … Read More
1912 55 Years Old In 1912 Shaw invested £1,000 for a one-fifth share in the Webbs' new publishing venture, a socialist weekly magazine called The New Statesman, which appeared in April 1913. … Read More
1914 57 Years Old After the First World War began in August 1914, Shaw produced his tract Common Sense About the War, which argued that the warring nations were equally culpable. … Read More


…  Augustus Does His Bit, a genial farce, was granted a licence; it opened at the Royal Court in January 1917. … Read More
1918 - 1928 6 More Events
1931 74 Years Old 1 More Event
…  Having turned down several chances to visit, in 1931 he joined a party led by Nancy Astor. … Read More
1932 75 Years Old Shaw met an enthusiastic welcome in South Africa in 1932, despite his strong remarks about the racial divisions of the country. … Read More
1933 76 Years Old 1 More Event
In March 1933 they arrived at San Francisco, to begin Shaw's first visit to the US. … Read More
1938 81 Years Old 1 More Event
Despite his contempt for Hollywood and its aesthetic values, Shaw was enthusiastic about cinema, and in the middle of the decade wrote screenplays for prospective film versions of Pygmalion and Saint Joan. The latter was never made, but Shaw entrusted the rights to the former to the unknown Gabriel Pascal, who produced it at Pinewood Studios in 1938. … Read More
1939 - 1945 5 More Events
In 1946, the year of Shaw's ninetieth birthday, he accepted the freedom of Dublin and became the first honorary freeman of the borough of St Pancras, London. … Read More
…  The Shaw Society of America began in June 1950; it foundered in the 1970s but its journal, adopted by Penn State University Press, continued to be published as Shaw: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies until 2004. … Read More
Original Authors of this text are noted on
Text is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.