George Bernard Shaw
Irish playwright, critic, and political activist
George Bernard Shaw
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.
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The Observer's critics pick the season's highlights, from Degas to Depp, and ... - The Guardian
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21 Art: Baltic Presents the Turner Prize The contenders for this year's Turner prize – painters Karla Black and George Shaw, sculptor Martin Boyce and video artist Hilary Lloyd – display their work in Gateshead, at a non-Tate venue for the first time
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Catch My Heart - YouTube
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mindy/id457642632?i=457642662 "Bumble Bee" by Joseph Vincent Original score by George Shaw This video features the new Samsung Conquer 4G available from Sprint
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Spring High graduate reflects on his service in the U.S. Navy - Houston Chronicle
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(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cheng Yang/RELEASED) Photo: (US Navy photo by Mass Communi / HC US Navy Petty Officer George Shaw joined the service a month out of high school in 2006. The Spring High School graduate is currently
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Vikings assemble in Bemidji, lay foundation for big upset over Chicago Bears - Park Rapids Enterprise
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Veteran quarterback George Shaw was acquired from a trade with the New York Giants for a 1962 first-round draft pick. The Cleveland Browns traded Jim Prestel, Jim Marshall, Dick Grecni, Jamie Caleb, Billy Gault and Paul Dickson to the Vikings for draft
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County School Board makes changes in fundraiser policy - Philadelphia Neshoba Democrat
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Superintendent George Shaw said that at one time there were complaints that students felt compelled by their peers to purchase pompoms. "Some kids can afford those things and some can't," said Shaw. "That's life. But this young that's not something we
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City, county schools pleased with test scores - Philadelphia Neshoba Democrat
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George Shaw, superintendent of the Neshoba County Schools, said scores in his district were up in most all areas. "I'm extremely proud of our district and the progress we are making to move our students forward," he said. Dr. Terry Larabee, who took
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Oi! Come and look at Nelson collectors' art - Nelson Mail
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When they heard about Nelson art collector George Shaw's significant collection of urban art, and plans to take a segment of his forthcoming street art exhibition Oi You! to Sydney, they rushed over for a sneak preview. Mr Shaw contacted the pair
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Oi You! Street art to show in Sydney - Nelson Mail
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The organisers of the Outpost Project festival were so keen to have the works, owned by Oi You! organiser George Shaw, that they delayed their show by a month. Outpost Project is a free event that will see the island transformed into an urban landscape
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Press Release – Nelson Media Agency - (press release)
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Organiser George Shaw, the new Nelsonian who owns the collection of 23 works by the elusive Banksy that form the core of the show, has just announced the Best of World section of the show will now go on to Sydney's Cockatoo Island as part of an urban
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Plymouth to use international events to fuel economic development activity - DCA (press release)
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Featured artists, Christian Marclay and Haroon Mirza recently won the Golden Lion and Silver Lion Awards respectively at the 54th Venice Biennale, while George Shaw and Karla Black have both been nominated for this year's Turner Prize
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Marblehead to Halifax Record Shattered -
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"Tumbleweed", a J122, owned by George Shaw of the Boston Yacht Club. (8.7 Nautical Miles Remaining) 5. "Wester Till", an A&R Custom 48, owned by Fred Atkins of the Eastern Yacht Club. (26.3 Nautical Miles Remaining) 6. "Ares", a C&C 40, owned by Linda
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This week in Baltimore football history -
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1960 -- Colts quarterback George Shaw, John Unitas' former backup, was dealt to the New York Giants for a 1961 first-round draft pick. In turn, the Colts traded that pick to the San Francisco 49ers, who used it to draft eventual
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Harbor Prepares For Marblehead-to-Halifax Ocean Race -
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"Tumbleweed", a J122, owned by George Shaw of the Boston Yacht Club 4. "Ares", a C&C 40, owned by Linda Hosking of the Boston Yacht Club 5. "Saga", a J130, owned by Kris Kristiansen of the Marblehead Yacht Club 6. "Wester Till", an A&R Custom 48,
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Hoppers Crossing icon for sale - Wyndham Leader
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Mr Gatto said the train belonged to late train enthusiast George Shaw, who once owned the Hoppers Crossing business and another in Ballarat Rd, Sunshine, which also had a Red Rattler. Mr Gatto managed the two premises and, after Mr Shaw died,
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Public art for our sake - Nelson Mail
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POINT OF DIFFERENCE: Street art enthusiast George Shaw wants Nelson public art to stand out from the crowd. There could be many different interpretations for the lofty stones-on-poles sculpture down by the Maitai, and its creator Grant Palliser has
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Castle goes to Town - Daily Echo
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Now, following positive feedback from chairman George Shaw and vice-chairman Richie Maton, the Husseys have committed for a second season. And they been given the green light to assemble a squad which younger brother Stuart believes is capable of
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Penn medical school dean leaves big legacy - Philadelphia Inquirer
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Meanwhile, a stream of research stars has come to campus under Rubenstein's watch, most recently Dang and the husband-and-wife team of George Shaw and Beatrice Hahn, prominent HIV researchers at the University of Alabama. Hahn said Rubenstein had sold
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Authorities investigating NA armed robbery - The Augusta Chronicle
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George Shaw of North Augusta Public Safety. Bloodhounds were not able to track a scent, Shaw said. Two employees were inside closing the store but no one was injured. Storms that swept through the area earlier in the night knocked out surveillance
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of George Bernard Shaw
  • 1950
    He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 6 November 1950.
    More Details Hide Details His ashes, mixed with those of Charlotte, were scattered along footpaths and around the statue of Saint Joan in their garden. Shaw published a collected edition of his plays in 1934, comprising forty-two works. He wrote a further twelve in the remaining sixteen years of his life, mostly one-act pieces. Including eight earlier plays that he chose to omit from his published works, the total is sixty-two. 1890s;Full-length plays Adaptation Short play Shaw's first three full-length plays dealt with social issues. He later grouped them as "Plays Unpleasant". Widower's Houses (1892) concerns the landlords of slum properties, and introduces the first of Shaw's New Women—a recurring feature of later plays. The Philanderer (1893) develops the theme of the New Woman, draws on Ibsen, and has elements of Shaw's personal relationships, the character of Julia being based on Jenny Patterson. In a 2003 study Judith Evans describes Mrs Warren's Profession (1893) as "undoubtedly the most challenging" of the three Plays Unpleasant, taking Mrs Warren's profession—prostitute and, later, brothel-owner—as a metaphor for a prostituted society.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details A second American organisation, founded in 1951 as "The Bernard Shaw Society", remains active as of 2016. More recent societies have been established in Japan and India. Besides his collected music criticism, Shaw has left a varied musical legacy, not all of it of his choosing. Despite his dislike of having his work adapted for the musical theatre ("my plays set themselves to a verbal music of their own") two of his plays were turned into musical comedies: Arms and the Man was the basis of The Chocolate Soldier in 1908, with music by Oscar Straus, and Pygmalion was adapted in 1956 as My Fair Lady with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. Although he had a high regard for Elgar, Shaw turned down the composer's request for an opera libretto, but played a major part in persuading the BBC to commission Elgar's Third Symphony, and was the dedicatee of The Severn Suite (1930).
  • 1946
    A 1946 Life magazine article observed that Shaw had "always tended to look at people more as a biologist than as an artist".
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    He declined, believing that an author's merit could only be determined by the posthumous verdict of history. 1946 saw the publication, as The Crime of Imprisonment, of the preface Shaw had written 20 years previously to a study of prison conditions.
    More Details Hide Details It was widely praised; a reviewer in The American Journal of Public Health considered it essential reading for any student of the American criminal justice system. Shaw continued to write into his nineties. His last plays were Buoyant Billions (1947), his final full-length work; Farfetched Fables (1948) a set of six short plays revisiting several of his earlier themes such as evolution; a comic play for puppets, Shakes versus Shav (1949), a ten-minute piece in which Shakespeare and Shaw trade insults; and Why She Would Not (1950), which Shaw described as "a little comedy", written in one week shortly before his ninety-fourth birthday. During his later years, Shaw enjoyed tending the gardens at Shaw's Corner. He died at the age of ninety-four of renal failure precipitated by injuries incurred when falling while pruning a tree.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details In the same year the government asked Shaw informally whether he would accept the Order of Merit.
  • 1945
    After Hitler's suicide in May 1945, Shaw approved of the formal condolences offered by the Irish Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, at the German embassy in Dublin.
    More Details Hide Details Shaw disapproved of the postwar trials of the defeated German leaders, as an act of self-righteousness: "We are all potential criminals". Pascal was given a third opportunity to film Shaw's work with Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). It cost three times its original budget and was rated "the biggest financial failure in the history of British cinema". The film was poorly received by British critics, although American reviews were friendlier. Shaw thought its lavishness nullified the drama, and he considered the film "a poor imitation of Cecil B. de Mille".
  • 1944
    Shaw's final political treatise, Everybody's Political What's What, was published in 1944.
    More Details Hide Details Holroyd describes this as "a rambling narrative... that repeats ideas he had given better elsewhere and then repeats itself". The book sold well—85,000 copies by the end of the year.
  • 1943
    In 1943, the worst of the London bombing over, the Shaws moved back to Whitehall Court, where medical help for Charlotte was more easily arranged.
    More Details Hide Details Her condition deteriorated and she died in September.
  • 1940
    The London blitz of 1940–41 led the Shaws, both in their mid-eighties, to live full-time at Ayot St Lawrence.
    More Details Hide Details Even there they were not immune from enemy air raids, and stayed on occasion with Nancy Astor at her country house, Cliveden.
  • 1939
    Following the outbreak of war on 3 September 1939 and the rapid conquest of Poland, Shaw was accused of defeatism when, in a New Statesman article, he declared the war over and demanded a peace conference.
    More Details Hide Details Nevertheless, when he became convinced that a negotiated peace was impossible, he publicly urged the neutral United States to join the fight.
  • 1938
    In an article in the American magazine Liberty, in September 1938, Shaw included the statement: "There are many people in the world who ought to be liquidated".
    More Details Hide Details Many commentators assumed that such comments were intended as a joke, although in the worst possible taste. Otherwise, Life magazine concluded, "this silliness can be classed with his more innocent bad guesses". Shaw's fiction-writing was largely confined to the five unsuccessful novels written in the period 1879–1885. Immaturity (1879) is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of mid-Victorian England, Shaw's "own David Copperfield" according to Weintraub. The Irrational Knot (1880) is a critique of conventional marriage, in which Weintraub finds the characterisations lifeless, "hardly more than animated theories". Shaw was pleased with his third novel, Love Among the Artists (1881), feeling that it marked a turning point in his development as a thinker, although he had no more success with it than with its predecessors. Cashel Byron's Profession (1882) is, says Weintraub, an indictment of society which anticipates Shaw's first full-length play, Mrs Warren's Profession. Shaw later explained that he had intended An Unsocial Socialist as the first section of a monumental depiction of the downfall of capitalism. Gareth Griffith, in a study of Shaw's political thought, sees the novel as an interesting record of conditions, both in society at large and in the nascent socialist movement of the 1880s.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Shaw was determined that Hollywood should have nothing to do with the film, but was powerless to prevent it from winning two Academy Awards ("Oscars"); he described his award for "best-written screenplay" as an insult, coming from such a source. He became, and at 2016 remains, the only person to have been awarded a Nobel Prize and an Oscar. In a 1993 study of the Oscars, Anthony Holden observes that Pygmalion was soon spoken of as having "lifted movie-making from illiteracy to literacy". Shaw's final plays of the 1930s were Cymbeline Refinished (1936), Geneva (1936) and In Good King Charles's Golden Days (1939). The first, a fantasy reworking of Shakespeare, made little impression, but the second, a satire on European dictators, attracted more notice, much of it unfavourable. In particular, Shaw's parody of Hitler as "Herr Battler" was considered mild, almost sympathetic. The third play, an historical conversation piece first seen at Malvern, ran briefly in London in May 1940. James Agate commented that the play contained nothing to which even the most conservative audiences could take exception, and though it was long and lacking in dramatic action only "witless and idle" theatregoers would object. After their first runs none of the three plays were seen again in the West End during Shaw's lifetime.
  • 1933
    A New York Times report dated 10 December 1933 quoted a recent Fabian Society lecture in which Shaw had praised Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin: "They are trying to get something done, and are adopting methods by which it is possible to get something done".
    More Details Hide Details As late as the Second World War, in Everybody's Political What's What, Shaw blamed the Allies' "abuse" of their 1918 victory for the rise of Hitler, and hoped that, after defeat, the Führer would escape retribution "to enjoy a comfortable retirement in Ireland or some other neutral country". These sentiments, according to the Irish philosopher-poet Thomas Duddy, "rendered much of the Shavian outlook passé and contemptible". "Creative evolution", Shaw's version of the new science of eugenics, became an increasing theme in his political writing after 1900. He introduced his theories in The Revolutionist's Handbook (1903), an appendix to Man and Superman, and developed them further during the 1920s in Back to Methuselah.
    In March 1933 they arrived at San Francisco, to begin Shaw's first visit to the US.
    More Details Hide Details He had earlier refused to go to "that awful country, that uncivilized place", "unfit to govern itself... illiberal, superstitious, crude, violent, anarchic and arbitrary". He visited Hollywood, with which he was unimpressed, and New York, where he lectured to a capacity audience in the Metropolitan Opera House. Harried by the intrusive attentions of the press, Shaw was glad when his ship sailed from New York harbour. New Zealand, which he and Charlotte visited the following year, struck him as "the best country I've been in"; he urged its people to be more confident and loosen their dependence on trade with Britain. He used the weeks at sea to complete two plays—The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles and The Six of Calais—and begin work on a third, The Millionairess.
  • 1932
    Shaw met an enthusiastic welcome in South Africa in 1932, despite his strong remarks about the racial divisions of the country.
    More Details Hide Details In December 1932 the couple embarked on a round-the-world cruise.
  • 1931
    Shaw's first play of the decade was Too True to be Good, written in 1931 and premiered in Boston in February 1932.
    More Details Hide Details The reception was unenthusiastic. Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times commenting that Shaw had "yielded to the impulse to write without having a subject", judged the play a "rambling and indifferently tedious conversation". The correspondent of The New York Herald Tribune said that most of the play was "discourse, unbelievably long lectures" and that although the audience enjoyed the play it was bewildered by it. During the decade Shaw travelled widely and frequently. Most of his journeys were with Charlotte; she enjoyed voyages on ocean liners, and he found peace to write during the long spells at sea.
    Having turned down several chances to visit, in 1931 he joined a party led by Nancy Astor.
    More Details Hide Details The carefully managed trip culminated in a lengthy meeting with Stalin, whom Shaw later described as "a Georgian gentleman" with no malice in him. At a dinner given in his honour, Shaw told the gathering: "I have seen all the 'terrors' and I was terribly pleased by them". In March 1933 Shaw was a co-signatory to a letter in The Manchester Guardian protesting at the continuing misrepresentation of Soviet achievements: "No lie is too fantastic, no slander is too stale... for employment by the more reckless elements of the British press." Shaw's admiration for Mussolini and Stalin demonstrated his growing belief that dictatorship was the only viable political arrangement. When the Nazi Party came to power in Germany in January 1933, Shaw described Hitler as "a very remarkable man, a very able man", and professed himself proud to be the only writer in England who was "scrupulously polite and just to Hitler". His principal admiration was for Stalin, whose regime he championed uncritically throughout the decade. Shaw saw the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact as a triumph for Stalin who, he said, now had Hitler under his thumb.
  • 1928
    Shaw returned to the theatre with what he called "a political extravaganza", The Apple Cart, written in late 1928.
    More Details Hide Details It was, in Ervine's view, unexpectedly popular, taking a conservative, monarchist, anti-democratic line that appealed to contemporary audiences. The premiere was in Warsaw in June 1928, and the first British production was two months later, at Sir Barry Jackson's inaugural Malvern Festival. The other eminent creative artist most closely associated with the festival was Sir Edward Elgar, with whom Shaw enjoyed a deep friendship and mutual regard. He described The Apple Cart to Elgar as "a scandalous Aristophanic burlesque of democratic politics, with a brief but shocking sex interlude". During the 1920s Shaw began to lose faith in the idea that society could be changed through Fabian gradualism, and became increasingly fascinated with dictatorial methods. In 1922 he had welcomed Mussolini's accession to power in Italy, observing that amid the "indiscipline and muddle and Parliamentary deadlock", Mussolini was "the right kind of tyrant". Shaw was prepared to tolerate certain dictatorial excesses; Weintraub in his ODNB biographical sketch comments that Shaw's "flirtation with authoritarian inter-war regimes" took a long time to fade, and Beatrice Webb thought he was "obsessed" about Mussolini.
  • 1925
    With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
    More Details Hide Details Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic. Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society and became its most prominent pamphleteer. Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes that included Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra. Shaw's expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success. In 1938 he provided the screenplay for a filmed version of Pygmalion, for which he received an Academy Award. His appetite for politics and controversy remained undiminished; by the late 1920s he had largely renounced Fabian gradualism and often wrote and spoke favourably of dictatorships of the right and left—he expressed admiration for both Mussolini and Stalin.
  • 1924
    After Saint Joan, it was five years before Shaw wrote a play. From 1924, Shaw spent four years writing what he described as his "magnum opus", a political treatise entitled The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism.
    More Details Hide Details The book was published in 1928 and sold well. At the end of the decade Shaw produced his final Fabian tract, a commentary on the League of Nations. He described the League as "a school for the new international statesmanship as against the old Foreign Office diplomacy", but thought that it had not yet become the "Federation of the World".
  • 1923
    He wrote Saint Joan in the middle months of 1923, and the play was premiered on Broadway in December.
    More Details Hide Details It was enthusiastically received there, and at its London premiere the following March. In Weintraub's phrase, "even the Nobel prize committee could no longer ignore Shaw after Saint Joan". The citation for the literature prize for 1925 praised his work as " marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty". He accepted the award, but rejected the monetary prize that went with it, on the grounds that "My readers and my audiences provide me with more than sufficient money for my needs".
  • 1920
    This mood was short-lived. In 1920 Joan of Arc was proclaimed a saint by Pope Benedict XV; Shaw had long found Joan an interesting historical character, and his view of her veered between "half-witted genius" and someone of "exceptional sanity".
    More Details Hide Details He had considered writing a play about her in 1913, and the canonisation prompted him to return to the subject.
  • 1918
    Shaw's largest-scale theatrical work was Back to Methuselah, written in 1918–20 and staged in 1922.
    More Details Hide Details Weintraub describes it as "Shaw's attempt to fend off 'the bottomless pit of an utterly discouraging pessimism'". This cycle of five interrelated plays depicts evolution, and the effects of longevity, from the Garden of Eden to the year 31,920 AD. Critics found the five plays strikingly uneven in quality and invention. The original run was brief, and the work has been revived infrequently. Shaw felt he had exhausted his remaining creative powers in the huge span of this "Metabiological Pentateuch". He was now sixty-seven, and expected to write no more plays.
  • 1917
    In April 1917 he joined the national consensus in welcoming America's entry into the war: "a first class moral asset to the common cause against junkerism".
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    Despite his errant reputation, Shaw's propagandist skills were recognised by the British authorities, and early in 1917 he was invited by Field Marshal Haig to visit the Western Front battlefields.
    More Details Hide Details Shaw's 10,000-word report, which emphasised the human aspects of the soldier's life, was well received, and he became less of a lone voice.
    Augustus Does His Bit, a genial farce, was granted a licence; it opened at the Royal Court in January 1917.
    More Details Hide Details Shaw had long supported the principle of Irish Home Rule within the British Empire (which he thought should become the British Commonwealth). He did not support separatism, believing that ties with England were essential. In April 1916 he wrote scathingly in The New York Times about militant Irish nationalism: "In point of learning nothing and forgetting nothing these fellow-patriots of mine leave the Bourbons nowhere." Total independence, he asserted, was impractical; alliance with a bigger power (preferably England) was essential. The Dublin Easter Rising later that month took him by surprise. After its suppression by British forces, he expressed horror at the summary execution of the rebel leaders, but continued to believe in some form of Anglo-Irish union. In How to Settle the Irish Question (1917), he envisaged a federal arrangement, with national and imperial parliaments. Holroyd records that by this time the separatist party Sinn Féin was in the ascendency, and Shaw's and other moderate schemes were forgotten.
  • 1914
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Such a view was anathema in an atmosphere of fervent patriotism, and offended many of Shaw's friends; Ervine records that "his appearance at any public function caused the instant departure of many of those present."
  • 1912
    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.
    More Details Hide Details He became a founding director, publicist, and in due course a contributor, mostly anonymously. He was soon at odds with the magazine's editor, Clifford Sharp, who by 1916 was rejecting his contributions—"the only paper in the world that refuses to print anything by me", according to Shaw.
  • 1908
    Wells resigned from the society in September 1908; Shaw remained a member, but left the executive in April 1911.
    More Details Hide Details He later wondered whether the Old Gang should have given way to Wells some years earlier: "God only knows whether the Society had not better have done it". Although less active—he blamed his advancing years—Shaw remained a Fabian.
  • 1906
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Wells's ideas for reform—particularly his proposals for closer cooperation with the Independent Labour Party—placed him at odds with the society's "Old Gang", led by Shaw. According to Cole, Wells "had minimal capacity for putting ideas across in public meetings against Shaw's trained and practised virtuosity". In Shaw's view, "the Old Gang did not extinguish Mr Wells, he annihilated himself".
  • 1904
    Nevertheless, in 1904 he stood in the London County Council elections.
    More Details Hide Details After an eccentric campaign, which Holroyd characterises as "making absolutely certain of not getting in", he was duly defeated. It was Shaw's final foray into electoral politics. Nationally, the 1906 general election produced a huge Liberal majority and an intake of 29 Labour members. Shaw viewed this outcome with scepticism; he had a low opinion of the new prime minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and saw the Labour members as inconsequential: "I apologise to the Universe for my connection with such a body".
  • 1903
    In 1903 Shaw joined in a controversy about vaccination against smallpox.
    More Details Hide Details He called vaccination "a peculiarly filthy piece of witchcraft"; in his view immunisation campaigns were a cheap and inadequate substitute for a decent programme of housing for the poor, which would, he declared, be the means of eradicating smallpox and other infectious diseases. Less contentiously, Shaw was keenly interested in transport; Laurence observed in 1992 a need for a published study of Shaw's interest in "bicycling, motorbikes, automobiles, and planes, climaxing in his joining the Interplanetary Society in his nineties." Shaw published articles on travel, took photographs of his journeys, and submitted notes to the Royal Automobile Club. Shaw strove throughout his adult life to be referred to as "Bernard Shaw" rather than "George Bernard Shaw", but confused matters by continuing to use his full initials—G.B.S.—as a by-line, and often signed himself "G.Bernard Shaw". He left instructions in his will that his executor (the Public Trustee) was to license publication of his works only under the name Bernard Shaw. Shaw scholars including Ervine, Judith Evans, Holroyd, Laurence and Weintraub, and many publishers have respected Shaw's preference, although the Cambridge University Press was among the exceptions with its 1988 Cambridge Companion to George Bernard Shaw.
    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".
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  • 1900
    As the new century began, Shaw became increasingly disillusioned by the limited impact of the Fabians on national politics. Thus, although a nominated Fabian delegate, he did not attend the London conference at the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street in February 1900, that created the Labour Representation Committee—precursor of the modern Labour Party.
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  • 1899
    In 1899, when the Boer War began, Shaw wished the Fabians to take a neutral stance on what he deemed, like Home Rule, to be a "non-Socialist" issue.
    More Details Hide Details Others, including the future Labour prime minister Ramsay MacDonald, wanted unequivocal opposition, and resigned from the society when it followed Shaw. In the Fabians' war manifesto, Fabianism and the Empire (1900), Shaw declared that "until the Federation of the World becomes an accomplished fact we must accept the most responsible Imperial federations available as a substitute for it".
  • 1898
    In the early weeks of the marriage Shaw was much occupied writing his Marxist analysis of Wagner's Ring cycle, published as The Perfect Wagnerite late in 1898.
    More Details Hide Details In 1906 the Shaws found a country home in Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire; they renamed the house "Shaw's Corner", and lived there for the rest of their lives. They retained a London flat in the Adelphi and later at Whitehall Court. During the first decade of the twentieth century, Shaw secured a firm reputation as a playwright. In 1904 J. E. Vedrenne and Harley Granville-Barker established a company at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square, Chelsea to present modern drama. Over the next five years they staged fourteen of Shaw's plays. The first, John Bull's Other Island, a comedy about an Englishman in Ireland, attracted leading politicians and was seen by Edward VII, who laughed so much that he broke his chair. The play was withheld from Dublin's Abbey Theatre, for fear of the affront it might provoke, although it was shown at the city's Royal Theatre in November 1907. Shaw later wrote that William Butler Yeats, who had requested the play, "got rather more than he bargained for... It was uncongenial to the whole spirit of the neo-Gaelic movement, which is bent on creating a new Ireland after its own ideal, whereas my play is a very uncompromising presentment of the real old Ireland." Nonetheless, Shaw and Yeats were close friends; Yeats and Lady Gregory tried unsuccessfully to persuade Shaw to take up the vacant co-directorship of the Abbey Theatre after J. M. Synge's death in 1909.
    The ceremony took place on 1 June 1898, in the register office in Covent Garden.
    More Details Hide Details The bride and bridegroom were both aged forty-one. In the view of the biographer and critic St John Ervine, "their life together was entirely felicitous". There were no children of the marriage, which it is generally believed was never consummated; whether this was wholly at Charlotte's wish, as Shaw liked to suggest, is less widely credited.
    In 1898, as a result of overwork, Shaw's health broke down.
    More Details Hide Details He was nursed by Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a rich Anglo-Irish woman whom he had met through the Webbs. The previous year she had proposed that she and Shaw should marry. He had declined, but when she insisted on nursing him in a house in the country, Shaw, concerned that this might cause scandal, agreed to their marriage.
  • 1897
    In 1897 he was persuaded to fill an uncontested vacancy for a "vestryman" (parish councillor) in London's St Pancras district.
    More Details Hide Details At least initially, Shaw took to his municipal responsibilities seriously; when London government was reformed in 1899 and the St Pancras vestry became the Metropolitan Borough of St Pancras, he was elected to the newly formed borough council.
  • 1895
    He was eventually persuaded to support the proposal, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) opened in the summer of 1895.
    More Details Hide Details By the later 1890s Shaw's political activities lessened as he concentrated on making his name as a dramatist.
  • 1892
    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.
    More Details Hide Details To Your Tents, O Israel excoriated the government for ignoring social issues and concentrating solely on Irish Home Rule, a matter Shaw declared of no relevance to socialism. In 1894 the Fabian Society received a substantial bequest from a sympathiser, Henry Hunt Hutchinson—Holroyd mentions £10,000. Webb, who chaired the board of trustees appointed to supervise the legacy, proposed to use most of it to found a school of economics and politics. Shaw demurred; he thought such a venture was contrary to the specified purpose of the legacy.
  • 1891
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Of contemporary dramatists writing for the West End stage he rated Oscar Wilde above the rest: " our only thorough playwright. He plays with everything: with wit, with philosophy, with drama, with actors and audience, with the whole theatre". Shaw's collected criticisms were published as Our Theatres in the Nineties in 1932. Shaw maintained a provocative and frequently self-contradictory attitude to Shakespeare (whose name he insisted on spelling "Shakespear"). Many found him difficult to take seriously on the subject; Duff Cooper observed that by attacking Shakespeare, "it is Shaw who appears a ridiculous pigmy shaking his fist at a mountain." Shaw was, nevertheless, a knowledgeable Shakespearian, and in an article in which he wrote, "With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespear when I measure my mind against his," he also said, "But I am bound to add that I pity the man who cannot enjoy Shakespear. He has outlasted thousands of abler thinkers, and will outlast a thousand more". Shaw had two regular targets for his more extreme comments about Shakespeare: undiscriminating "Bardolaters", and actors and directors who presented insensitively cut texts in over-elaborate productions. He was continually drawn back to Shakespeare, and wrote three plays with Shakespearean themes: The Dark Lady of the Sonnets, Cymbeline Refinished and Shakes versus Shav. In a 2001 analysis of Shaw's Shakespearian criticisms, Robert Pierce concludes that Shaw, who was no academic, saw Shakespeare's plays—like all theatre—from an author's practical point of view: "Shaw helps us to get away from the Romantics' picture of Shakespeare as a titanic genius, one whose art cannot be analyzed or connected with the mundane considerations of theatrical conditions and profit and loss, or with a specific staging and cast of actors."
  • 1890
    Among the cast of the London production was Florence Farr, with whom Shaw had a romantic relationship between 1890 and 1894, much resented by Jenny Patterson. The success of Arms and the Man was not immediately replicated. Candida, which presented a young woman making a conventional romantic choice for unconventional reasons, received a single performance in South Shields in 1895; in 1897 a playlet about Napoleon called The Man of Destiny had a single staging at Croydon.
    More Details Hide Details In the 1890s Shaw's plays were better known in print than on the West End stage; his biggest success of the decade was in New York in 1897, when Richard Mansfield's production of the historical melodrama The Devil's Disciple earned the author more than £2,000 in royalties. In January 1893, as a Fabian delegate, Shaw attended the Bradford conference which led to the foundation of the Independent Labour Party. He was sceptical about the new party, and scorned the likelihood that it could switch the allegiance of the working class from sport to politics. He persuaded the conference to adopt resolutions abolishing indirect taxation, and taxing unearned income "to extinction".
    In May 1890 he moved back to The World, where he wrote a weekly column as "G.B.S." for more than four years.
    More Details Hide Details In the 2016 version of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Robert Anderson writes, "Shaw's collected writings on music stand alone in their mastery of English and compulsive readability." Shaw ceased to be a salaried music critic in August 1894, but published occasional articles on the subject throughout his career, his last in 1950. From 1895 to 1898, Shaw was the theatre critic for The Saturday Review, edited by his friend Frank Harris. As at The World, he used the by-line "G.B.S.". He campaigned against the artificial conventions and hypocrisies of the Victorian theatre and called for plays of real ideas and true characters. By this time he had embarked in earnest on a career as a playwright: "I had rashly taken up the case; and rather than let it collapse I manufactured the evidence". After using the plot of the aborted 1884 collaboration with Archer to complete Widowers' Houses (it was staged twice in London, in December 1892), Shaw continued writing plays. At first he made slow progress; The Philanderer, written in 1893 but not published until 1898, had to wait until 1905 for a stage production. Similarly, Mrs Warren's Profession (1893) was written five years before publication and nine years before reaching the stage.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details In Shaw's new version, readers were assured that "socialism can be brought about in a perfectly constitutional manner by democratic institutions". The mid 1880s marked a turning point in Shaw's life, both personally and professionally: he lost his virginity, had two novels published, and began a career as a critic. He had been celibate until his twenty-ninth birthday, when his shyness was overcome by Jane (Jenny) Patterson, a widow some years his senior. Their affair continued, not always smoothly, for eight years. Shaw's sex life has caused much speculation and debate among his biographers, but there is a consensus that the relationship with Patterson was one of his few non-platonic romantic liaisons. The published novels, neither commercially successful, were his two final efforts in this genre: Cashel Byron's Profession written in 1882–83, and An Unsocial Socialist, begun and finished in 1883. The latter was published as a serial in ToDay magazine in 1884, although it did not appear in book form until 1887. Cashel Byron appeared in magazine and book form in 1886.
  • 1889
    Its profile was raised in 1889 with the publication of Fabian Essays in Socialism, edited by Shaw who also provided two of the essays.
    More Details Hide Details The second of these, "Transition", details the case for gradualism and permeation, asserting that "the necessity for cautious and gradual change must be obvious to everyone".
  • 1887
    After a rally in Trafalgar Square addressed by Besant was violently broken up by the authorities on 13 November 1887 ("Bloody Sunday"), Shaw became convinced of the folly of attempting to challenge police power.
    More Details Hide Details Thereafter he largely accepted the principle of "permeation" as advocated by Webb: the notion whereby socialism could best be achieved by infiltration of people and ideas into existing political parties. Throughout the 1880s the Fabian Society remained small, its message of moderation frequently unheard among more strident voices.
  • 1886
    When Archer resigned as art critic of The World in 1886 he secured the succession for Shaw.
    More Details Hide Details The two figures in the contemporary art world whose views Shaw most admired were William Morris and John Ruskin, and he sought to follow their precepts in his criticisms. Their emphasis on morality appealed to Shaw, who rejected the idea of art for art's sake, and insisted that all great art must be didactic. Of Shaw's various reviewing activities in the 1880s and 1890s it was as a music critic that he was best known. After serving as deputy in 1888, he became musical critic of The Star in February 1889, writing under the pen-name Corno di Bassetto.
    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.
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  • 1885
    From 1885 to 1889 Shaw attended the fortnightly meetings of the British Economic Association; it was, Holroyd observes, "the closest Shaw had ever come to university education."
    More Details Hide Details This experience changed his political ideas; he moved away from Marxism and became an apostle of gradualism.
    He joined the society's executive committee in January 1885, and later that year recruited Webb and also Annie Besant, a fine orator.
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  • 1884
    In 1884 and 1885, through the influence of Archer, Shaw was engaged to write book and music criticism for London papers.
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details He became a member in September, and before the year's end had provided the society with its first manifesto, published as Fabian Tract No. 2.
  • 1883
    He began attending meetings of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), where he discovered the writings of Karl Marx, and thereafter spent much of 1883 reading Das Kapital.
    More Details Hide Details He was not impressed by the SDF's founder, H. M. Hyndman, whom he found autocratic, ill-tempered and lacking leadership qualities. Shaw doubted the ability of the SDF to harness the working classes into an effective radical movement and did not join it—he preferred, he said, to work with his intellectual equals.
  • 1882
    On 5 September 1882 Shaw attended a meeting at the Memorial Hall, Farringdon, addressed by the political economist Henry George.
    More Details Hide Details Shaw then read George's book Progress and Poverty, which awakened his interest in economics.
  • 1880
    In 1880 Shaw began attending meetings of the Zetetical Society, whose objective was to "search for truth in all matters affecting the interests of the human race".
    More Details Hide Details Here he met Sidney Webb, a junior civil servant who, like Shaw, was busy educating himself. Despite difference of style and temperament, the two quickly recognised qualities in each other and developed a lifelong friendship. Shaw later reflected: "You knew everything that I didn't know and I knew everything you didn't know... We had everything to learn from one another and brains enough to do it". Shaw's next attempt at drama was a one-act playlet in French, Un Petit Drame, written in 1884 but not published in his lifetime. In the same year the critic William Archer suggested a collaboration, with a plot by Archer and dialogue by Shaw. The project foundered, but Shaw returned to the draft as the basis of Widowers' Houses in 1892, and the connection with Archer proved of immense value to Shaw's career.
  • 1879
    He was employed briefly by the Edison Telephone Company in 1879–80, and as in Dublin achieved rapid promotion.
    More Details Hide Details Nonetheless, when the Edison firm merged with the rival Bell Telephone Company, Shaw chose not to seek a place in the new organisation. Thereafter he pursued a full-time career as an author. For the next four years Shaw made a negligible income from writing, and was subsidised by his mother. In 1881, for the sake of economy, and increasingly as a matter of principle, he became a vegetarian. He grew a beard to hide a facial scar left by smallpox. In rapid succession he wrote two more novels: The Irrational Knot (1880) and Love Among the Artists (1881), but neither found a publisher; each was serialised a few years later in the socialist magazine Our Corner.
  • 1878
    His first attempt at drama, begun in 1878, was a blank-verse satirical piece on a religious theme.
    More Details Hide Details It was abandoned unfinished, as was his first try at a novel. His first completed novel, Immaturity (1879) was too grim to appeal to publishers and did not appear until the 1930s.
  • 1876
    Early in 1876 Shaw learned from his mother that Agnes was dying of tuberculosis.
    More Details Hide Details He resigned from the land agents, and in March travelled to England to join his mother and Lucy at Agnes's funeral. He never again lived in Ireland, and did not visit it for twenty-nine years. Initially, Shaw refused to seek clerical employment in London. His mother allowed him to live free of charge in her house in South Kensington, but he nevertheless needed an income. He had abandoned a teenage ambition to become a painter, and had no thought yet of writing for a living, but Lee found a little work for him, ghost-writing a musical column printed under Lee's name in a satirical weekly, The Hornet. Lee's relations with Bessie deteriorated after their move to London. Shaw maintained contact with Lee, who found him work as a rehearsal pianist and occasional singer. Eventually Shaw was driven to applying for office jobs. In the interim he secured a reader's pass for the British Museum Reading Room (the forerunner of the British Library) and spent most weekdays there, reading and writing.
    During this period he was known as "George Shaw"; after 1876 he dropped the "George" and styled himself "Bernard Shaw".
    More Details Hide Details In June 1873 Lee left Dublin for London, and never returned. A fortnight later Bessie followed him; the two girls joined her. Shaw's explanation of why his mother followed Lee was that without the latter's financial contribution the joint household had to be broken up. Left in Dublin with his father, Shaw compensated for the absence of music in the house by teaching himself to play the piano.
  • 1871
    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.
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  • 1865
    Between 1865 and 1871 Shaw attended four schools, all of which he hated.
    More Details Hide Details His experiences as a schoolboy left him disillusioned with formal education: "Schools and schoolmasters", he later wrote, were "prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them disturbing and chaperoning their parents."
  • 1862
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Shaw, a sensitive boy, found the less salubrious parts of Dublin shocking and distressing, and he was happier at the cottage. Lee's students often gave him books, which the young Shaw read avidly; thus, as well as gaining a thorough musical knowledge of choral and operatic works, he became familiar with a wide spectrum of literature.
  • 1856
    Born on July 26, 1856.
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