Shaw, George Bernard (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)

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George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)

Melissa S. Van Vuuren
James Madison University


Angela Courtney
Indiana University

1925 Nobel Prize in Literature Presentation Speech







See also the Shaw entries in DLB 10: Modern British Dramatists, 1900–1945; DLB 57: Victorian Prose Writers After 1867; and DLB 190: British Reform Writers, 1832–1914.

SELECTED BOOKS: A Manifesto, Fabian Tracts 2 (London: Geo. Standring, 1884);

Cashel Byron’s Profession (London: Modern Press, 1886; New York: Harper, 1886); revised edition, including The Admirable Bashville (Chicago: Stone, 1901; London: Richards, 1901);

An Unsocial Socialist (London: Swan Sonnenschein, Lowery, 1887; New York: Brentano’s, 1900);

Fabian Essays in Socialism, edited, with an introduction, by Shaw (London: Fabian Society, 1889);

The Quintessence of Ibsenism (Boston: Tucker, 1891; London: Scott, 1891); enlarged edition (London: Constable, 1913; New York: Brentano’s, 1913); enlarged again as Bernard Shaw’s The Quintessence of Ibsenism and Related Writings, edited by J. W. Wisenthal (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979);

Manifesto of English Socialists, anonymous, by Shaw, William Morris, and H. M. Hyndman (London: Twentieth Century Press, 1893);

Widowers’ Houses (London: Henry, 1893; New York: Brentano’s, 1913);

The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the Ring of the Niblungs (London: Richards, 1898; Chicago & New York: Stone, 1899; revised edition, London: Richards, 1902; New York: Brentano’s, 1909);

Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant, 2 volumes (London: Richards, 1898; Chicago & New York: Stone, 1898);

Fabianism and the Empire: A Manifesto by the Fabian Society, drafted and edited by Shaw (London: Richards, 1900);

Love Among the Artists (Chicago & New York: Stone, 1900; London: Constable, 1914);

Three Plays for Puritans: The Devil’s Disciple, Caesar and Cleopatra, & Captain Brassbound’s Conversion (London: Richards, 1901; Chicago & New York: Stone, 1901);

Mrs. Warren’s Profession (London: Richards, 1902);

Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy (Westminster: Constable, 1903; New York: Brentano’s, 1904);

The Common Sense of Municipal Trading (London: Constable, 1904);

Fabianism and the Fiscal Question: An Alternative Policy (London: Fabian Society, 1904);

The Irrational Knot (London: Constable, 1905; New York: Brentano’s, 1905);

Passion, Poison, and Petrifaction; or, The Fatal Gazogene (New York: H. B. Claflin, 1905);

Dramatic Opinions and Essays, 2 volumes (New York: Brentano’s, 1906; London: Constable, 1907);

John Bull’s Other Island and Major Barbara (New York: Brentano’s, 1907); published in England as John Bull’s Other Island and Major Barbara: also How He Lied to Her Husband (London: Constable, 1907);

The Sanity of Art: An Exposure of the Current Nonsense about Artists Being Degenerate (London: New Age, 1908; New York: Tucker, 1908);

Press Cuttings (London: Constable, 1909; New York: Brentano’s, 1909);

The Doctor’s Dilemma, Getting Married, and The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet (London: Constable, 1911; New York: Brentano’s, 1911);

Common Sense about the War: Supplement to the New Statesman (London: Statesman, 1914);

Androcles and the Lion, Overruled, Pygmalion (New York: Brentano’s, 1916; London: Constable, 1916);

How to Settle the Irish Question (Dublin: Talbot Press / London: Constable, 1917);

Peace Conference Hints (London: Constable, 1919);

Heartbreak House, Great Catherine, and Playlets of the War (New York: Brentano’s, 1919; London: Constable, 1919);

Back to Methusaleh: A Metabiological Pentateuch (London: Constable, 1921; New York: Brentano’s, 1921);

Saint Joan (London: Constable, 1924; New York: Brentano’s, 1924);

Table-Talk of G. B. S.: Conversations on Things in General between George Bernard Shaw and His Biographer, by Shaw (uncredited) and Archibald Henderson (New York & London: Harper, 1925; revised edition, London: Chapman & Hall, 1925);

Translations and Tomfooleries (London: Constable, 1926; New York: Brentano’s, 1926);

The Socialism of Shaw, edited by James Fuchs (unauthorized edition, New York: Vanguard, 1926);

The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism (London: Constable, 1928; New York: Brentano’s, 1928); enlarged and republished as The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism, 2 volumes (London: Penguin, 1937);

Immaturity (London: Constable, 1930);

Bernard Shaw & Karl Marx: A Symposium, 1884–1889 (unauthorized edition, New York: Random House, 1930);

The Apple Cart (London: Constable, 1930; New York: Brentano’s, 1931);

The Works of Bernard Shaw, Collected Edition, volumes 1–30 (London: Constable, 1930–1932); republished as the Ayot St. Lawrence Edition (New York: Wise, 1930–1932); volumes 31–33 (London: Constable, 1934–1938); enlarged and republished as the Standard Edition of the Works of Bernard Shaw, 36 volumes (London: Constable, 1947–1952);

Our Theatres in the Nineties (London: Constable, 1931; New York: Wise, 1931);

Music in London, 1890–1894 (London: Constable, 1931; New York: Wise, 1931);

What I Really Wrote About the War (London: Constable, 1931; New York: Brentano’s, 1932);

Short Stories, Scraps and Shavings (London: Constable, 1932; first trade edition, London: Constable, 1934; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1934);

The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God (London: Constable, 1932; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1933);

The Future of Political Science in America (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1933); The Politicial Madhouse in America and Nearer Home (London: Constable, 1933);

Three Plays: Too True to Be Good, Village Wooing and On the Rocks (London: Constable, 1934; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1934);

The Simpleton, The Six of Calais, and The Millionairess (London: Constable, 1936); republished as The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, The Six of Calais & The Millionairess (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1936);

William Morris As I Knew Him (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1936);

Cymbeline Refinished (Edinburgh: Privately printed, 1937);

London Music in 1888–1889 As Heard by Corno di Bassetto (Later Known as Bernard Shaw), with Some Further Autobiographical Particulars (London: Constable, 1937; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1937);

Geneva: A Fancied Page of History in Three Acts (London: Constable, 1939; enlarged edition, London: Constable, 1940);

Shaw Gives Himself Away: An Autobiographical Miscellany (Newtown, Montgomeryshire: Gregynog, 1939);

In Good King Charles’s Golden Days (London: Constable, 1939);

Everybody’s Political What’s What (London: Constable, 1944; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1944);

Geneva, Cymbeline Refinished, “In Good King Charles’ Golden Days” (London: Constable, 1946; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1947);

Shaw on Vivisection, compiled and edited by G. H. Bowker for the National Antivivisection Society (London: Allen & Unwin, 1949);

Sixteen Self Sketches (London: Constable, 1949; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1949);

Buoyant Billions: A Comedy of No Manners in Prose (London: Constable, 1950);

Buoyant Billions, Farfetched Fables, & Shakes versus Shav (London: Constable, 1951; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1951);

Last Will and Testament (Flint, Mich.: Apple Tree Press, 1954);

Shaw on Music, selected by Eric Bentley, Doubleday, (New York: Applause, 1955);

My Dear Dorothea: A Practical System of Moral Education for Females, Embodied in a Letter to a Young Person of That Sex, edited by Stephen Winsten (London: Phoenix House, 1956; New York: Vanguard, 1957);

An Unfinished Novel, edited by Stanley Weintraub (London: Constable / New York: Dodd, Mead, 1958);

Shaw on Theatre, edited by E. J. West (New York: Hill & Wang, 1958; London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1960);

How to Become a Musical Critic, edited by Dan H. Laurence (London: Hart-Davis, 1960; New York: Hill & Wang, 1961);

Shaw on Shakespeare, edited by Edwin Wilson (New York: Dutton, 1961; London: Cassell, 1962);

Platform and Pulpit, edited by Laurence (New York: Hill & Wang, 1961; London: Hart-Davis, 1962);

G. B. S. on Music (New York: Penguin, 1962);

The Matter with Ireland, edited by Laurence and David H. Greene (New York: Hill & Wang, 1962; London: Hart-Davis, 1962);

The Religious Speeches of Bernard Shaw, edited by Warren Sylvester Smith (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1963);

George Bernard Shaw on Language, edited by Abraham Tauber (New York: Philosophical Library, 1963; London: Owen, 1965);

The Rationalization of Russia, edited by Harry M. Geduld (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964);

Bernard Shaw’s Ready Reckoner, edited by N. H. Leigh-Taylor (New York: Random House, 1965);

Shaw on Religion, edited by Smith (London: Constable, 1967; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1967);

Shaw, “The Chucker-Out:” A Biographical Exposition and Critique, compiled by Allan Chappelow (London: Allen & Unwin, 1969);

Shaw: An Autobiography, 1856–1898, compiled and edited by Weintraub (New York: Weybright & Talley, 1969; London, Sydney & Toronto: Reinhardt, 1970);

Shaw: An Autobiography, 1898–1950. The Playwright Years, compiled and edited by Weintraub (New York: Weybright & Talley, 1970; London, Sydney & Toronto: Reinhardt, 1970);

Passion Play: A Dramatic Fragment, 1878, edited by Jerald E. Bringle (Iowa City: University of Iowa at the Windhover Press, 1971);

The Road to Equality: Ten Unpublished Lectures and Essays, 1884–1918, edited by Louis Crompton and Hilayne Cavanaugh (Boston: Beacon, 1971);

Bernard Shaw’s Nondramatic Literary Criticism, edited by Weintraub (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972);

Practical Politics: Twentieth-Century Views on Politics and Economics, edited by Lloyd J. Hubenka (Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press, 1976);

Flyleaves, edited by Laurence and Daniel J. Leary (Austin, Tex.: W. Thomas Taylor, 1977);

The Great Composers: Reviews and Bombardments, edited, with an introduction, by Crompton (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978);

Early Texts: Play Manuscripts in Facsimile, 12 volumes, edited by Laurence and others (New York: Garland, 1981);

Shaw’s Music, 3 volumes, edited by Laurence (London: Reinhardt/Bodley Head, 1981; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1981);

Shaw on Dickens, edited by Laurence and Martin Quinn (New York: Ungar, 1985);

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885–1897 with Early Autobiographical Notebooks and Diaries, and an Abortive 1917 Diary, 2 volumes, edited by Weintraub (University Park & London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1986);

Bernard Shaw on Photography: Essays and Photographs, edited by Bill Jay and Margaret Moore (Wellingborough, U.K.: Equation, 1989; Salt Lake City: P. Smith, 1989);

Not Bloody Likely!: And Other Quotations from Bernard Shaw, edited by Bernard F. Dukore (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996);

Bernard Shaw on Cinema, edited by Dukore (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997).

PLAY PRODUCTIONS: Widowers’ Houses, London, Royalty Theatre, 9 December 1892;

Arms and the Man, London, Avenue Theatre, 21 April 1894;

The Man of Destiny, Croydon, U.K., Grand Theatre, 1 July 1897; London, Royal Court Theatre, 4 June 1907;

Candida, Aberdeen, U.K., Her Majesty’s Theatre, 30 July 1897; London, Royal Court Theatre, 26 April 1904;

The Devil’s Disciple, Albany, N.Y., Hermanus Bleecker Hall, 4 October 1897; London, Savoy Theatre, 14 October 1907;

The Gadfly, or, The Son of the Cardinal, Bayswater, U.K., Biju Theatre, 23 or 31 March 1898;

You Never Can Tell, London, Royalty Theatre, 26 November 1899;

Captain Brassbound’s Conversion, London, Strand Theatre, 16 December 1900;

Mrs Warren’s Profession, London, New Lyric Theatre, 5 January 1902;

The Admirable Bashville; or, Constancy Unrewarded, London, Imperial Theatre, 7 June 1903;

How He Lied to Her Husband, New York, Berkeley Lyceum, 26 September 1904; London, Royal Court Theatre, 28 February 1905;

John Bull’s Other Island, London, Royal Court Theatre, 1 November 1904;

The Philanderer, London, New Stage Club, Applegate Institute, 20 February 1905; London, Royal Court Theatre, 5 February 1907;

Man and Superman. A Comedy and a Philosophy, London, Royal Court Theatre, 21 May 1905; revised to include Don Juan in Hell, interlude, act 3, Edinburgh, Lyceum, 11 June 1915; London, Regent Theatre, 23 October 1925;

Passion, Poison, and Petrifaction, or the Fatal Gazogene, London, Theatrical Garden Party Regent’s Park, London, 14 July 1905;

Major Barbara, London, Royal Court Theatre, 28 November 1905;

Caesar and Cleopatra, Berlin, Neues Theatre, 31 March 1906; New York, New Amsterdam Theatre, 30 October 1906; London, Savoy Theatre, 25 November 1907;

The Doctor’s Dilemma, London, Royal Court Theatre, 20 November 1906;

The Interlude at the Playhouse, London, Playhouse Theatre, 28 January 1907;

Don Juan in Hell, London, Royal Court Theatre, 4 June 1907;

Getting Married, London, Haymarket Theatre, 12 May 1908;

The Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet, Dublin, Abbey Theatre, 25 August 1909; London, Everyman Theatre, 14 March 1921;

Press Cuttings (A Topical Sketch Compiled from the Editorial and Correspondence Columns of the Daily Papers during the Woman’s War in 1909), Manchester, Gaiety Theatre, 27 September 1909;

Misalliance, London, Duke of York’s Theatre, 23 February 1910;

The Dark Lady of the Sonnets, London, Haymarket Theatre, 24 November 1910;

Fanny’s First Play, London, Little Theatre, 19 April 1911;

Overruled, London, Duke of York’s Theatre, 14 October 1912;

Androcles and the Lion, Berlin, Kleines Theatre, 25 November 1912; London, St. James’s Theatre, London, 1 September 1913;

Pygmalion, Vienna, Hofburg Theatre, 16 October 1913; London, His Majesty’s Theatre, 11 April 1914;

Great Catherine, A Thumbnail Sketch of Russian Royal Court Theatre Life in the XVIII Century (Whom Glory Still Adores), London, Vaudeville Theatre, 18 November 1913;

The Music-Cure: A Piece of Utter Nonsense, London, Little Theatre, 28 January 1914;

The Inca of Perusalem. An Almost Historical Comedietta, Birmingham, Repertory Theatre, 7 October 1916; London, Criterion Theatre, 16 December 1917;

Augustus Does His Bit, London, Royal Court Theatre, 21 January 1917;

Annajanska, the Wild Grand Duchess, London, London Coliseum, 21 January 1918; New York, 39th Street Theatre, 21 June 1920;

O’Flaherty, V.C.A Reminiscence of 1915, New York, 39th Street Theatre, 21 June 1920; London, Lyric Theatre, 19 December 1920;

Heartbreak House. A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes, New York, Garrick Theatre, 10 November 1920; London, Royal Court Theatre, 18 October 1921;

Back to Methuselah. A Metabiological Pentateuch, New York, Garrick Theatre, 27 February 1922; London, Royal Court Theatre, 18 February 1924;

Jitta’s Atonement, adapted from Trebitsch’s Frau Gittas Sühne, Washington, D.C., Shubert Theatre, 8 January 1923; New York, Comedy Theatre, 17 January 1923; London, Arts Theatre Club, 30 April 1930;

Saint Joan, New York, Garrick Theatre, 28 December 1923; London, New Theatre, 26 March 1924;

The Glimpse of Reality. A Tragedietta, London, Arts Theatre Club, 20 November 1927;

The Fascinating Foundling, London, Arts Theatre Club, 28 January 1928;

The Apple Cart, Warsaw, Teatr Polski, 14 June 1929; Malvern, U.K., Malvern Theatre Festival, 19 August 1929; London, Queen’s Theatre, 17 September 1929;

Too True to Be Good. A Political Extravaganza, Boston, National Theatre, 29 February 1932; New York, Guild Theatre, 4 April 1932;

On The Rocks (A Political Comedy), London, Winter Garden Theatre, 25 November 1933;

Village Wooing. A Comediettina for Two Voices in Three Conversations, Dallas, Little Theatre, 16 April 1934; Tunbridge Wells, U.K, Pump Room, 1 May 1934;

The Six of Calais. A Medieval War Story in One Act, London, Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park, 17 July 1934;

The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, New York, Guild Theatre, 18 February 1935;

The Millionairess. A Jonsonian Comedy in Four Acts, Vienna, Akademie Theatre, 4 January 1936; Melbourne, King’s Theatre, 7 March 1936;

Cymbeline Refinished (A Variation on Shakespeare’s Ending), London, Embassy Theatre, Swiss Cottage, 16 November 1937;

Geneva. A Fancied Page of History, Malvern, U.K., Festival Theatre, 1 August 1938; London, Saville Theatre, 22 November 1938;

“In Good King Charles’s Golden Days.” A True History That Never Happened, Malvern, U.K., Festival Theatre, 12 August 1939; London, Streatham Hill Theatre, 15 April 1940;

Buoyant Billions. A Comedy of No Manners, Zurich, Schauspielhaus, 21 October 1948, (German translation by Trebitsch); Malvern U.K., Festival Theatre, 13 August 1949;

Shakes versus Shav. A Puppet Play, Malvern U.K., Waldo Lanchester Marionette Theatre at Lyttleton Hall, 9 August 1949; Battersea Park, U.K., Riverside Theatre, 10 June 1951;

Farfetched Fables, London, Watergate Theatre, 6 September 1950;

Why She Would Not, New York, Shaw Society of America at the Grolier Club, 21 January 1957.

Collections: Selected Passages from the Works of Bernard Shaw, chosen by Charlotte F. Shaw (London: Constable, 1912); republished as The Wisdom of Bernard Shaw (passages from Shaw’s works), selected by Charlotte F. Shaw (New York: Brentano’s, 1913);

The Complete Plays of Bernard Shaw (London: Constable, 1931);

Prefaces (London: Constable, 1934);

Nine Plays (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1935):

Six Plays (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1941);

Selected Novels (New York: Caxton House, 1946);

Selected Plays (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1948–1957);

Plays and Players: Essays on the Theatre (London: Oxford University Press, 1952);

Selected Prose (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1952);

Selected Plays and Other Writings (New York: Rinehart, 1956);

The Illusions of Socialism, Together with Socialism: Principles and Outlook (London: Shaw Society, 1956);

Shaw’s Dramatic Criticism: 1895–1898 (selections from the author’s contributions to Saturday Review), edited by John F. Matthews (New York: Hill & Wang, 1959);

A Prose Anthology, edited by H. M. Burton (Greenwich, Conn: Fawcett, 1959);

The Theatre of Bernard Shaw edited by Alan S. Downer (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1961);

Selected Nondramatic Writings of Bernard Shaw, edited by Dan H. Laurence (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965);

Bernard Shaw: Selections of His Wit and Wisdom, compiled by Caroline Thomas Harnsberger (Chicago: Follett, 1965);

The Complete Prefaces of Bernard Shaw (London: Hamlyn, 1965);

Bernard Shaw’s Ready-Reckoner, edited by N. H. Leigh-Taylor, (New York: Random House, 1965);

Four Plays (New York: Washington Square Press, 1965);

Selected One-Act Plays (New York: Penguin, 1965);

Seven Plays With Prefaces and Notes (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1966);

Three Shorter Plays (London: Heinemann, 1968);

Bernard Shaw’s Plays, edited by Warren Sylvester Smith (New York: Norton, 1970);

The Bodley Head Bernard Shaw, 7 volumes (London, Sydney & Toronto: Reinhardt/Bodley Head, 1970–1974); republished as Collected Plays with their Prefaces (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1975);

Collected Music Criticism (New York: Vienna House, 1973);

The Portable Bernard Shaw, edited by Stanley Weintraub (New York: Penguin, 1977);

The Collected Screenplays of Bernard Shaw, edited by Bernard F. Dukore (London: Prior, 1980; Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980);

Early Texts: Play Manuscripts in Facsimile, edited by Laurence (New York: Garland, 1981);

Shaw’s Music, edited by Laurence, 3 volumes (London: Reinhardt, 1981; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1981);

Selected Plays (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1981);

Selected Short Plays (New York: Viking-Penguin, 1988);

Monologues from George Bernard Shaw, edited by Ian Michaels (Toluca Lake, Cal.: Dramaline Publications, 1988);

Unpublished Shaw, edited by Laurence and Margot Peters (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996);

Bernard Shaw: the One-volume Definitive Edition, edited by Michael Holroyd (New York: Random House, 1997);

The Cambridge Companion to George Bernard Shaw, edited by Christopher Innes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998);

George Bernard Shaw’s Plays: Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Pygmalion, Man and Superman, Major Barbara: Contexts and Criticism, edited by Sandie Byrne (New York: Norton, 2002).

PRODUCED SCRIPTS: Arms and the Man, adapted by Shaw, 1932;

Pygmalion, adapted by Shaw, produced by Gabriel Pascal, 1938;

Pygmalion: Screen Version (New York: Penguin, 1941);

Major Barbara, adapted by Shaw, scenario edited by Marjorie Deans, 1941; Major Barbara: A Screen Version (New York: Penguin, 1946; Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1946);

Caesar and Cleopatra, adapted by Shaw, edited by Deans, 1945; based on his play, Eagle-Lion, 1946;

Saint Joan: A Screenplay, edited by Bernard F. Dukore (Seattle & London: University of Washington Press, 1968).

One of the most influential and prolific writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, George Bernard Shaw devoted his life to the craft of writing. Though he is best known as a playwright, he also wrote many reviews, political pamphlets, and treatises. Although Shaw’s dramatic work is widely appreciated by twenty-first-century scholars and critics, many of his plays were highly controversial and banned from the London stage until years after they were written. Shaw’s political and social views often influenced the content of his plays. A vocal political activist, Shaw was convinced that socialism could cure the ills that capitalism had wrought on society. In his 8 June 1887 letter to crusading journalist William T. Stead, Shaw asserts that “polite society…lives by the robbery and murder of the poor.” For Shaw, “The denial of this is the great lie that is rotting our national life.” Shaw believed that society would benefit from the erasure of artificial boundaries imposed by race, gender, class, and creed. This belief informed Shaw’s writing throughout his life.

On 26 July 1856, George Bernard Shaw was born to George Carr Shaw and Lucinda Elizabeth Gurly Shaw in their home on Upper Synge Street in Dublin. He was the youngest of the three Shaw children and the only son. His father was part of the Protestant ascendancy that had ancestral roots in Scotland, while his mother came from landed gentry in Ireland. Prior to her marriage, his mother stood to inherit her Aunt Ellen’s fortunes, but since her family thought her marriage to George Carr Shaw imprudent, they disinherited her. While Shaw’s father was rich in lineage, he lacked monetary assets, working as a rather unsuccessful grain merchant and struggling with alcoholism for much of his adult life. Living what Shaw would later refer to as a life of “shabby genteel poverty,” the Shaw family struggled to maintain appearances appropriate to their class standing. Shaw’s mother turned to music and her vocal instructor, George Vandeleur Lee, rather than focus on her roles as wife and mother. Vandeleur Lee would be a constant presence in and influence on the lives of the Shaw family from the mid 1850s until his death in 1886. In 1866 the Shaws moved to Torca Cottage, Dalkey Hill, with Vandeleur Lee, forming a curious yet, by all reports, innocent ménage à trois. The arrangement not only facilitated Lucinda Elizabeth Shaw’s musical encounters with Vandeleur Lee but also was an economic necessity for the Shaw family.

During this time, Shaw received the little formal schooling he had. His earliest education came from a governess, Miss Caroline Hill, and then from a clerical uncle, William George Carroll. By the time he was fifteen years old, Shaw had attended several schools, including the Wesleyan Connexional School, James Frederick Halpin’s Preparatory School near Dalkey, the Central Model Boys’ School, and the Dublin English Scientific and Commercial Day School. Believing he had “learnt nothing,” Shaw abandoned his formal education in 1871 to begin employment as a clerk at Uniacke Townshend and Company, a Dublin land-agent office. He resigned his position in February 1876 and moved to London. There Shaw rejoined his mother, who had already left Ireland, following Vandeleur Lee to London in 1873. Intent on pursuing her music career, she had taken Shaw’s two sisters–Lucinda Frances and Elinor Agnes–with her, leaving Shaw and his father in Ireland to care for themselves.

In his early days in London, Shaw unsuccessfully sought employment and even studied excise in preparation for the civil-service examination, which he never saw through to completion. Living with his mother and sister, Shaw found himself forced to rely on his mother for his room and board and on his father for financial support. The ever-present Vandeleur Lee helped bail him out of his financial straits by offering him work ghostwriting music criticism. Shaw’s career as a ghostwriter did not last long; he soon abandoned it to pursue creative writing and to educate himself by reading the books in the British Museum.

Shaw began writing earnestly in 1878. To learn the craft, he set out to write at least five pages each day. Many of his early creative-writing attempts were novelistic, but Shaw, it seems, was not made to be a great novelist. None of his five novels–Cashel Byron’s Profession (1886), An Unsocial Socialist (1887), Love Among the Artists (1900), The Irrational Knot (1905), and Immaturity (1930)–was a literary success in its time. In October 1878 Shaw joined the Zetetical Society, a debating club which provided an open forum for discussions of social, philosophical, and political subjects. In the Zetetical Society, Shaw not only learned “the habits of public life & public action simultaneously with the art of public speaking,” but as he explains in a 1905 letter to his biographer Archibald Henderson, “I also became accustomed from the first to work with women & regard their presence&participation in public affairs as a matter of course.”

Shaw heard American economist Henry George give a speech in September 1881 on Land Nationalization and Single Tax, which had a dramatic impact on his political and social views. By 1883 Shaw had dedicated himself to studying and advocating socialism. To enhance his knowledge of socialism, he began to read Gabriel Devill’s French translation of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. His passion for socialism drove him to seek out like-minded intellectuals, such as the Fabian Society members. Shaw first attended a Fabian Society meeting in May 1884 and joined officially in September of that same year. Rather than pushing for social revolution, the Fabians sought to create a socialist society through gradual changes. Two weeks after he was officially elected to Fabian membership, Shaw wrote and presented his first Fabian tract, “A Manifesto.” He quickly rose through the ranks of the Fabians and was elected to the Fabian Executive Committee in January 1885. Although he had already committed most of his waking hours to lecturing about socialism and attending political meetings, in May 1885 Shaw began writing book reviews for the Pall Mall Gazette. Having received an inheritance from his father and earning income from an increased number of paid writing jobs, Shaw finally found himself financially stable.

Shaw had been interested in drama since his early twenties, but his career as a playwright did not begin until 1892. He completed what he called his three Plays Unpleasant–Widowers’ Houses (produced 1892), The Philanderer (produced 1905), and Mrs. Warren’s Profession (produced 1902)–as well as his four Plays Pleasant–Arms and the Man (produced 1894), The Man of Destiny (produced 1897), Candida (produced 1897), and You Never Can Tell (produced 1899). Additionally, he wrote The Devil’s Disciple (produced 1897) during that same time period. Many of Shaw’s early plays were not immediate stage successes. Widowers’ Houses received a total of two performances in 1892 before it closed. Shaw was as outspoken about his political and social views in his plays as he was in his Fabian speeches and tracts, attracting the attention of the Lord Chamberlain. However, not all of Shaw’s early plays were failures. When Arms and the Man opened in London in April 1894, its initial stage run lasted for fifty performances. Later that year Richard Mansfield produced the play in North America, having licensed it from Shaw for a year. By November 1894 Shaw had received £340 in royalties from both the British and the American performances of Arms and the Man.

In June 1890 Shaw began a paper on Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen for the Fabian Society. The following year he revised the paper into his essay The Quintessence of Ibsenism (1891). In an 11 May 1901 article in the Candid Friend, Shaw included himself along with Ibsen, Leo Tolstoy, German novelist and playwright Hermann Sudermann, and German playwright Gerhart Hauptmann, among “the revolted bourgeois” writers “whose passion is political and sociological.”

Widowers’ Houses, the first of Shaw’s Plays Unpleasant, was intended to be a collaboration between Shaw and William Archer in 1884. Archer had the idea for the play but acknowledged that he was not able to write the dialogue on his own, so he approached Shaw to provide the dialogue to accompany Archer’s structure. According to Archer, in a short history of the play that he published in the 14 December 1892 issue of The World, he explained that he gave Shaw an outline for each scene, and that after Shaw had labored for a month and a half, he had used all of Archer’s outline on only part of the first act. Shaw maintains he was true to the original outline–except in removing from the story a second daughter, “a mere joist in the plot,” and allowing the play to reach a logical, organic ending as opposed to one fitting a well-made play.

The play opened 9 December 1892, produced by J. T. Grein’s Independent Theatre Society, which was well known for staging European playwrights such as Ibsen. The following day the Times (London) described it as having “much in common with the audacious productions of the Scandinavian school. It is clever, but perverse–a cynical, roundabout essay on the selfish aristocrat, the grasping middle-class landlord, and the unscrupulous plebeian.” A commentary on slum landlordism, the play implicates those complicit in the exploitation of the poor at all levels of English society.

Shaw’s play was intended, as he explained in his 1893 preface, “to induce people to vote on the Progressive side.” He asserts that he cannot write “beautiful … or grand” plays because the reality in which he lives is not beautiful. He explains, “My life has been passed mostly in big modern towns, where my sense of beauty has been starved whilst my intellect has been gorged with problems like that of the slums in this play, until I have come, in a horrible sort of way, to relish them enough to make them the subjects of my essays as an artist.” Widowers’ Houses enjoyed two performances on its initial run at the Royalty Theatre, and, according to the 10 December 1892 Times (London), “the fall of the curtain was attended with some disorder.”

The following year Shaw wrote the second Unpleasant Play, The Philanderer, a satirical three-act play in which he targets interests he championed–antivivisection, women’s rights, and progressive movements in general. It was not be produced until 1905, when an amateur group called the New Stage Club performed the play at the Applegate Institution. Central to the plot is the Ibsen Club, a progressive institution that allows neither manly men nor womanly women as members. Through this artificial construct of the Ibsen Club, Shaw posits the concept that there is no difference between the mental and emotional being of men and women, but rather it is the expectations and demands of society that make the sexes act differently. Like Widowers’ Houses, The Philanderer was intended as a critique of the capitalist system that Shaw found thoroughly corrupt–both in an economic and in a moral sense.

While still unable to attain permission from the Lord Chamberlain to stage The Philanderer, Shaw began work on one of his most famous plays and the third to be included in Plays Unpleasant, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, a realistic exploration of prostitution and a critique of the capitalist system that allows it to prosper. In this play, prostitution is a career choice, not an exploitative male-dominated industry that Mrs. Warren was forced into by poverty and despair. Mrs. Warren is a career woman who chose her line of business, as Shaw explains in his preface, because “prostitution is caused, not by female depravity and male licentiousness, but simply by underpaying, undervaluing, and overworking women so shamefully that the poorest of them are forced to resort to prostitution to keep body and soul together.” He not only continues to argue that individuals be held responsible but also implicates cities, churches, and capitalism in general. In his preface, Shaw asserts “that starvation, overwork, dirt, and disease are as anti-social as prostitution–that they are the vices and crimes of a nation, and not merely its misfortunes,” boldly defending not only his play but also his politics. Deemed unsuitable for the stage by the Lord Chamberlain, this play did not reach the stage until 1902, eight years after it was written. Much like Widowers ’ Houses, Mrs. Warren’s Profession at once condemns the capitalist society that allows exploitation of a class or type of people, and it exposes the hypocrisy behind individual complicity with capitalism’s institutionalized crimes. Rather than condemn Mrs. Warren for engaging in the prostitution industry, Shaw blames his audiences for their complacency with regard to a system that creates this type of immorality.

Written in March of 1894 and performed in April of the same year, Arms and the Man, subtitled An Anti-Romantic Comedy, is the first of Shaw’s Pleasant Plays. Martin Meisel explains that Shaw’s desire was to substitute the perceived romance of the military with a more pragmatic view of both war and romance, and that “his method was to confront the conventional attitudes and actions with this common-sense point of view, and to make his drama out of their conflict.” Moving away from his pragmatic attack on social problems, Shaw targeted the Romantic idealism that interferes with social progressivism through its distinct inability to understand reality, leading to moral dissolution in society. The play was well received, and at the premiere, according to the Times (London) of 23 April 1894, “In response to a call for the author, Mr. Bernard Shaw came forward and addressed a few words to the house in the same cynical spirit as his play.”

Written in 1894, Candida, another study of the romantic versus the pragmatic, represents a new approach for Shaw in his adherence to the classical unities of time, place, and action. The play is set entirely in the “Study and General Sitting-room, St. Dominic’s Vicarage,” and the action takes place in the morning, afternoon, and evening of the same day. Produced privately in 1897 by the Independent Theatre Company at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, the play did not see the London stage until 1900, when the Stage Society produced it at the Strand Theatre. Parallels exist between Candida and Ibsen’s Doll’s House, but with roles reversed. In Candida James Morell’s success is owed to his wife–her emotional and mental support, her pragmatic approach to life, and her faith and belief in her husband’s work. Shaw’s play honors marriage, and his political diatribes, which are loosely veiled in his earlier plays, are rare in Candida. It proved extremely popular on the stage.

Shaw followed Candida with The Man of Destiny, written in 1895 but not performed until 1897 in Croydon, where it ran for three performances. Taking place on 12 May 1796, this play is a battle of wits between the twenty-seven-year-old Napoleon and a female spy after his victory at Lodi. All of the action takes place in an Italian inn between Lodi and Milan. Characteristic of Shaw, the extensive setting description reads like a novel, and Napoleon is characterized comically, described as not unintelligent, able to comprehend that “a cannon ball, if it strikes a man, will kill him … He is imaginative without illusions, and creative without religion, loyalty, patriotism or any of the common ideals” (607–608). Almost Wildean in its banter, the play consists completely of the witty contest between physically mismatched mental equals.

Shaw began working on You Never Can Tell in July of 1895, abandoned the effort, and returned to it in December of that year, completing it in May of 1896. The Stage Society premiered the play at the Royalty Theatre on 26 November 1899. A well-timed, well-constructed comedy, the play acknowledges the standard expectations of a comedy and then inverts, shuffles, or destroys them. The central theme of the play is relationships: between mother and children, father and children, siblings, parents, friends, and lovers.

In 1898 Shaw began to have problems with swelling and pain in his left foot. Doctors diagnosed the problem as a bone infection in May of that year. Shaw, in an 11 May 1898 letter to actress Janet Achurch, reveals that the doctor, who “wants to cure me of my vegetarian follies,” claims that he is “in critical condition” and suffering from “undernourishment.” Shaw attributed his failing health to “overwork” and admitted that he may “have been overdoing the superhuman.” Although his recovery took years, he soon had someone to care for him on a regular basis.

Prior to his illness in 1898, Shaw had begun a relationship with Irish heiress Charlotte Payne-Townshend. The two had been introduced in January 1896 by mutual friends Beatrice and Sidney Webb. Shortly after Shaw’s health declined, the two married on 1 June 1898 in the Registry Office, Covent Garden, ending Shaw’s forty-two years of confirmed bachelorhood and providing him financial security. Shaw’s passion for politics and writing was equaled by Charlotte’s passion for travel, and they were frequently away from London. Even so, in their first year of marriage, he wrote The Perfect Wagnerite and Caesar and Cleopatra. Their marriage seems never consummated, though they shared a companionable and relatively happy life together. Throughout his marriage Shaw developed romances with other women, but Charlotte remained devoted to him until her death in 1943.

After his marriage Shaw worked incessantly, to the point of feeling “nearly dead with work.” In one of his many letters to actress Ellen Terry, Shaw reveals that in July 1900 “with the Vestry, the Fabian, the printers (American & English) and a thousand other things, I am working like mad sixteen hours a day.” Although he had been writing for years, Shaw had yet to make his mark on the London stage.

In 1901 Shaw published Three Plays for Puritans, the first of which was The Devil’s Disciple. Written in 1896, its first performance was in Albany, New York, followed shortly by an engagement at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York City beginning 1 October 1897, where it was a success. Meisel describes Dion Boucicault’s Arrah-na-Pogue as a typical Irish melodrama, with a “rebel and garrison situation” and suggests that The Devil’s Disciple evidences Shaw’s “transfer of the Irish sub-genre as a whole to America.” The 27 September Times (London) said of the play that it was “full of that mordant satire with which we are familiar in Mr. Shaw’s work and full, too, of that sense of insincerity, of mere posing which mars so much of it“; yet, overall it “offends less” than much of Shaw’s work.

The second of the Puritan plays is Caesar and Cleopatra, which according to Meisel “was his first full-scale historical drama, and the elements of spectacle and costume have a much greater part in the play than is apparent merely in the reading.” The play was written in 1898 and performed in Chicago by students at the Anna Morgan Studios for Art and Expression in 1901. It was performed in German in Berlin in 1906 and in English in New York later in that same year. Shaw’s construction is in the Shakespearean five-act pattern. He draws Caesar as an ordinary man; in comparison to the public man of power in William Shakespeare’s play, Shaw’s Caesar is the precursor to the man he becomes in Shakespeare, much like the young Napoleon of A Man of Destiny. Cleopatra is a younger and uncertain queen, whom Caesar takes under his wing and teaches her how a queen ought to behave. In his “Notes to Caesar and Cleopatra,” Shaw describes Cleopatra as “childish” and explains that he was not compelled “to believe that Cleopatra was well educated.” Similarly, Caesar, to Shaw, while a great man on the battlefield, is even greater as a private man.

The third Puritan play is Captain Brassbound’s Conversion, written in 1899 and performed by the Stage Society in 1900. This is Shaw’s last play in the nineteenth century, written specifically for Terry, who was unimpressed. Set in Morocco, the play is difficult to read because Shaw has written several roles with American, Scots, and Cockney dialectal pronunciations. The 17 September 1907 Times (London) lauds the play for including “no self-sacrificing young men, no sanctimonious young women, and not even a middle-aged villain who comes to a bad end in order to point a good moral.”

Louis Crompton suggests that as Shaw moved into the twentieth century, he introduced a new type of play, and “Each new play of this genre–the only appropriate name for which is ‘philosophic comedy’–begins as a Molieresque satire on a liberal reformer and then develops into a full-fledged Platonic dialogue.” Man and Superman was written in 1901 and subtitled A Comedy and a Philosophy. At its core, the play is about the constant battle between the sexes, one that, according to Shaw, women will always win. Even a superman is no match for the unyielding drive of a woman seeking a husband and family. Times (London), 24 May 1905, acknowledges the difficult philosophy of the play, suggesting that it “may be cordially commended to the attention of all playgoers who do not leave their brains along with their wraps in the cloak-room.”

In 1904 Shaw broached the Irish question with John Bull’s Other Island, in which Irishman Larry Doyle reluctantly returns to Ireland with his English business partner Tom Broadbent when they come into ownership of land in Larry’s birthplace. Shaw advocates Irish home rule, characterizes the Irish as a pragmatic people and the English as decidedly blind to reality, and points to the church as being complicit in the plight of the Irish at the hands of the English as well as their own.

Shaw first encountered Harley Granville Barker, who brought his plays to the attention of England’s audiences and critics, in the summer of 1900. Shaw was impressed by Barker’s performance in Hauptmann’s Friedensfest and began to collaborate with him on theatrical performances. By 1904 Barker had developed a plan to promote “uncommercial drama” in London. At the time the twenty-five-year-old actor was employed as the director of J. H. Leigh’s Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square. Since Barker now had a theater, Shaw had an outlet for his plays. Barker began by producing six matinee performances of Shaw’s Candida and, finding the play largely successful, joined with the Leigh’s manager, John Eugene Vedrenne, to produce a continuing series of plays that would begin that October. Under Barker and Vedrenne’s management, between 1904 and 1907 the Royal Court Theatre hosted productions of Shaw’s plays, including How He Lied to Her Husband; John Bull’s Other Island; Man and Superman; Passion, Passion, Poison, and Petrifaction: or The Fatal Gazogene; Major Barbara; The Doctor’s Dilemma; The Man of Destiny, and Don Juan in Hell. Shaw’s collaboration with Barker and Vedrenne marked the beginning of his widespread popularity in England.

In the midst of his theatrical rise, Shaw continued to lecture for the Fabians and promote various social causes, including women’s rights. Shaw prided himself on his progressive social stances and was as outspoken in lectures and interviews about women’s rights as he was about socialism, vegetarianism, and jaegerism (which included the belief that fabrics made from animal fiber promoted health, accounting for Shaw’s peculiar dress). Believing women’s attire to be both restrictive and unpractical, Shaw, in a March 1905 interview with suffragist Maud Churton Braby, declared that “a woman [should] dress as much as possible like a woman, just as a man dresses like a man.” Shaw, however, was not advocating for traditional women’s attire, such as corsets and “curtain-like” dresses, but since “A woman is a biped, built like a man; let her dress like a man,” like his trousers-wearing women from the Ibsen Club in The Philanderer. A year later, in another interview with Churton Braby, Shaw similarly advocated for women’s suffrage. In his own extreme language, he asserted that “Women should have a revolution–they should shoot, kill, maim, destroy–until they are given a vote.” He believed women were as qualified to vote as men and thus should not be denied the right to vote. Equal treatment for women was one passion that Shaw and Charlotte shared as she would dedicate much of her own life to advocating for women’s causes.

Shaw soon put another emancipated, though conflicted, woman on the stage. Major Barbara, written and performed in 1905, opened not only to the prime minister but also to several Salvation Army commissioners in the audience. In this play, the Undershaft family confronts financial reality and, reminiscent of Widowers’ Houses, comes to terms with the source of the family wealth. Barbara, a major in the Salvation Army, is opposed to her father’s munitions industry. Characterized by distinctly different personal philosophies, Barbara and her father agree to go to see the other’s place of work, thus setting up the moral debate of the play.

During her father’s visit to the shelter, Barbara learns that the Salvation Army accepts financial support from wealthy manufacturers who benefit from the vices of those that the shelter serves. Disillusioned, Barbara quietly rids herself of her Salvation Army badge. In contrast, her father’s factory supports an ideal society, with libraries, schools, nursing homes, and best of all, no poverty–but at a price. Barbara is convinced to save souls at the factory–since there is no poverty, hunger, or crime, residents here frequently neglect their souls. Shaw shatters the illusions of the successful piety of the Salvation Army with its inability to treat the causes of social problems, instead treating only the glaring symptoms, in contrast with the idyllic society created by an amoral military industrial partnership.

Shaw followed Major Barbara with The Doctor’s Dilemma, which opened at the Court Theatre in November of 1906. In this play, an artist of questionable morals, Subedit, is at the mercy of a tribunal of doctors who must decide if his life is worth saving in a time when medical supplies are low. Inadvertently mistreated, the artist’s condition deteriorates sooner than expected, and he delights in the consternation of the panel of doctors as they witness the decline that leads to his death. In 1909 The Showing-Up of Blanco Posnet, a courtroom drama in which a horse thief must defend himself, opened at the Abbey in Dublin. Not only had Blanco Posnet stolen the horse in question, but he had uncharacteristically given it to a woman who needed it as she tried unsuccessfully to save her dying child. The mother is unable to identify him, and he is set free with a newfound religious zeal that has replaced his former felonious energies. Misalliance followed in 1910, in which a plotless weekend in the country is interrupted by a visible deus ex machina–a crash landing of a small plane at the Tarleton home. Ultimately, the pilot and passenger break up an engagement as the pilot diverts the romantic interest of Tarleton’s daughter and her former fiancé finds comfort and escape with the passenger, a Polish acrobat, and the plane.

Fanny’s First Play opened at the Little Theatre in 1911, directed anonymously by Shaw. This was the first Shaw play to enjoy a long run, more than six hundred performances. After its initial success this satire on critics and criticism was rarely staged. For the opening night, Shaw hid the fact that he wrote the play, a parallel of the plot itself. Framed with a prologue and epilogue, Fanny’s father, Count O’Dowda, stages a private performance for important critics of a play eventually revealed to have been written by Fanny. Her play is about two London families, co-owners of an underwear business, whose children endure a failed engagement. Shaw’s play includes critics who are based on real-life models from contemporary London, as well as characters who parody standard Shaw characters. Rich with references to the theater of the early twentieth century, the epilogue of the play blurs the identity of Shaw with Fanny as the critics yell “Shaw” when Fanny appears after the performance of her play.

Pygmalion was first produced in Vienna (in German) in 1913, and the following year it was produced in England at His Majesty’s Theatre. Phonetician Henry Higgins agrees to take on the challenging Cockney accent of Eliza Doolittle and bets his colleague Colonel Pickering that within months he will have her speaking like a high-class lady. She is a challenge to him, and once he teaches her the manners and trappings of society, Higgins, lacking manners of his own, treats her simply as a finished experiment. The ending, nevertheless, has been open to interpretation in spite of the clarity with which Shaw drew their parting, and sentimentality has over the years invaded the play, distorting it in movies and musicals, with requisite happily paired hero and heroine.

In the midst of rehearsing Pygmalion, Shaw fell “violently and exquisitely in love” with actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who was cast as Eliza Doolittle. Their romance, however, drew to a close when Stella married the newly divorced George Cornwallis-West in April 1914. Despite its abrupt end, his relationship with Stella was not without literary influence. As Dan Laurence suggests in Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters 1911–1925, Shaw’s 1912 play Overruled included characters “bearing marked likenesses to Stella, Charlotte, and himself.” In spite of his infatuation with Stella and Charlotte’s ire toward him, the Shaws would settle back into the routines of married life, moving past the illicit romance.

As the discord in the Shaw household owing to his marital infidelities subsided, the discord that had been spreading across Europe came to a head. While the British public rallied around cries of patriotism and nationalism against the German enemy, Shaw stood decisively against the war. In September 1914, when fifty-four of his fellow writers signed a declaration of patriotism, Shaw declined to add his signature to the list. In November of that year The Statesman published Shaw’s thirty-six-thousand-word treatise that outlined his views of and arguments against war. In a 21 October 1914 letter to Statesman editor Clifford Sharp, Shaw described his treatise, Common Sense about the War, as presenting “Socialism with something like an intelligible and distinctive foreign policy.” Shaw’s arguments in his treatise caused an uproar throughout British society and received a fair amount of attention abroad. A year later, in October 1915, the Germans quoted Shaw in anti-British propaganda they were distributing to rally Moroccans and Algerians against the French. To counter their propaganda, Shaw was asked to write a statement showing his support for Britain and opposition of Germany. His compliance to the request, however, did little to improve his diminished popularity. As fellow author Henry Arthur Jones wrote to him on 1 November 1915, Shaw had, in essence, “kicked and defamed his mother [England] when she was on a sickbed.” Shaw’s “mischievous treason,” while temporarily damaging, did not scar his public image.

Both performances of Shaw’s plays and the amount Shaw wrote decreased significantly during the war. Between 1914 and 1918, Shaw completed several playlets as well as three plays–Augustus Does His Bit (produced 1917); Annajanska, the Wild Grand Duchess (produced 1918); and Heartbreak House (produced 1920). His plays, however, were conspicuously absent from the stages of the popular West End theaters in London. After the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, Shaw began to regain his popularity with the general public, and his plays once again made their way onto the English stage, with Arms and the Man leading the way. It had been five years since one of Shaw’s plays had been produced in the West End theater district.

In 1916 and 1917 Shaw wrote Heartbreak House, subtitled “A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes,” and renamed “Scatterbrain House” in a Times (London) review from 19 October 1921. Faulted for its insincere treatment of love, it is redeemed because “any play by Mr. Shaw cannot but afford much entertainment and some profitable reflection, and there is plenty of both in Heartbreak House.” Influenced by Chekhov, the play is a commentary on the war, pointing to the English ruling class as irresponsible and ineffective, allowing the metaphorical ship that is England to drift aimlessly. Shaw borrows from the techniques used by the symbolists in this play, from the house that looks like a ship, to the linguistic shifts in conversation from verse to prose, to the implied futures for the characters as the play ends. This play also represents a thematic and structural shift for Shaw. Still remaining a socialist concerned with problems that plague society, Shaw realized that in spite of potential political changes, man must also be implicated in societal ills. Structurally, Shaw moved away from the underlying well-made-play structure toward a more experimental approach.

In 1923 Shaw wrote Saint Joan about the newly canonized (in 1920) Joan of Arc–a young French maid who, during the fifteenth century, had visions, insisted that God help her save the French and in Shaw’s version presents the paradoxical conflict between the Church law and the law of the land. Shaw’s work had been evolving from the pragmatic social dramas advocating socialism to more mystic approach involving the Life Force. He believed that visionaries such as Joan of Arc and Jesus Christ brought new ideas to humankind that continued growth and development of the Life Force. Joan is a mystic revolutionary who valued her causes more than her life. Reviewed in Times (London), 27 March 1924, the play was faulted for “Shavianisms,” such as linguistic anachronisms, the occasional long speech, and his lifelong penchant for politicizing even his historical works with contemporary problems, but the play was otherwise lauded as “one of Mr. Shaw’s finest achievements.”

Although his works were almost as well known as his political and social views, Shaw did not have center-stage in the minds of his countrymen. As Dan H. Laurence points out in Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters [volume 4] 1926–1950 (1988), Shaw “alone among British dramatists of the past three centuries … attained international supremacy in the theatre, and was probably the most famous person in the world.” So in 1926, when Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 1925 by the Swedish Academy, no one was surprised–except for Shaw and the British. Shaw was the first British writer since Rudyard Kipling in 1907 to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. At seventy years of age, Shaw had attained global recognition for his work.

Becoming a Nobel laureate and achieving global fame did not mark the end of Shaw’s career, but rather Shaw continued on in his roles as writer and advocate for socialist causes, writing some of his major political works in his last years. In 1927 Shaw wrote The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism. The Intelligent Woman’s Guide, which would be published the following year, not only conveyed Shaw’s socialist views but also promoted equality between the genders. It was successful in both the United States and Great Britain.

Despite his socialist views Shaw believed in powerful leaders. In the late 1920s, Shaw made several controversial comments in support of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who had been rejected by socialists at the beginning of World War I. In the 1930s Shaw expressed admiration for totalitarian leaders Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Although he later condemned Hitler’s racism, Shaw maintained an admiration of Stalin, as he believed Stalin shared views with the Fabian socialists.

In the midst of his political commentary, Shaw traveled extensively with his wife, especially between 1931 and 1936. As Shaw once told publisher Otto Kyllmann in 1933, “My wife has taken it into her head that she must go round the world before she dies; and I shall have to go with her.” Having already traveled to the Mediterranean, the Holy Land, Venice, Paris, London, Russia, and South Africa in 1931, in December 1932 the Shaws embarked an a cruise around the world on the Empress of Britain.

During their travels, Shaw wrote to completion Too True to Be Good (produced 1932), The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God (published 1932), On the Rocks (produced 1933), Village Wooing (produced 1934), The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles (produced 1935), The Millionairess (produced 1936), Cymbeline Refinished (produced 1937), and Geneva (produced 1938). At the various port cities in which they stopped, the Shaws were greeted by the foreign press and hordes of adoring fans. Foreign dignitaries and heads of state also took notice of Shaw’s presence in their countries. In the midst of his travels, Shaw met with Stalin in Moscow in July 1931; Mahatma Gandhi during a brief stop back in London in November 1931; and, in February 1933, Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen as well as Japanese prime minister Admiral Makoto. Of all the people he met and cultures he encountered, Shaw commented in an interview with Ritchie Calder of the Daily Herald on 20 April 1933 that he had “found the civilised peoples unhappy and anxious and, wherever they are uncivilised, they are happy and carefree.”

Old age, however, eventually caught up with the Shaws. In the early 1940s Charlotte’s mental and physical health declined. On 12 September 1943 Charlotte Shaw died at the age of 86. Shaw had several years left to live following Charlotte’s death, and in typical Shavian fashion, he continued writing until his own death in 1950. In his last years Shaw completed another of his major political works, Everybody’s Political What’s What? (1944), which he began writing during Charlotte’s illness. Even in his nineties neither Shaw’s play writing nor his letter writing decreased. Between 1947 and 1950 he completed six more plays: Buoyant Billions (produced 1948), Shakes Versus Shav (produced 1949), Far-fetched Fables (produced 1950), and Why She Would Not (produced 1957). While he continued writing his many correspondents, Shaw noticed that his abilities had greatly decreased and that he was no longer able to write letters by hand. In a 1948 letter to the Very Reverend William Ralph Inge, dean of St. Paul’s, Shaw comments, “I have to type my letters because I write like a child making pothooks and hangers, very slowly.” In the early morning hours of 1 November 1950 Shaw fell into a coma. The next day the Great Genius, as Charlotte once affectionately called him, passed on. After his funeral Shaw’s ashes were mixed with Charlotte’s, and they were both sprinkled throughout their Ayot St. Lawrence garden.

In The New York Times, 18 June 1898, Shaw’s Plays–Unpleasant and Pleasant was derisively reviewed as “fluent” and “showy.” Yet, his plays exhibit evidence that “if he had the poet’s gift he might easily become a real dramatist.” Two years later, in the 3 May 1900 Times (London), Shaw’s reputation had quickly become that of a renaissance man, albeit occasionally overzealous: “successively, or even simultaneously, he has been novelist, kerb-stone orator, art critic, musical critic, dramatic critic, publicist, vestryman, and playwright.” His fault: “Mr. Shaw remains ineffectual because he has too much intellect.” These perceptions remained with Shaw throughout his career, but he was a long-lived and influential force in the literary and political worlds. Shaw speaks through his works, and evenhandedly laughs not only at the foibles of his world but also at himself. In spite of the early perception that he had “too much intellect” and lacked the “poet’s gift,” Shaw left, according to William D. Chase in his foreword to Shaw’s will, “one of the largest estates amassed in the profession of literature.” Shaw found inspiration all around him–in his life, in his social milieu, and in his dramatic predecessors from Shakespeare to Ibsen. The driving force that moved English drama into the twentieth century, George Bernard Shaw continues to influence audiences through modern productions of his works and the writings of twenty-first century dramatists.


Letters from George Bernard Shaw to Miss Alma Murray (Mrs. Alfred Forman) (London: Privately printed, 1927);

Ellen Terry and Bernard Shaw: A Correspondence, edited by Christopher St. John (New York: Putnam; London: Constable, 1931);

More Letters from George Bernard Shaw to Miss Alma Murray (Mrs. Alfred Forman) (London: Privately printed, 1932);

Florence Farr, Bernard Shaw, W. B. Yeats, edited by Clifford Bax (Dublin: Cuala Press, 1941; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1942; London: Home & Van Thal, 1946);

Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell: A Correspondence, edited by Alan Dent (London: Gollancz, 1952; New York: Knopf, 1952);

Advice to a Young Critic and Other Letters, edited by E. J. West (New York: Crown, 1955); republished as Advice to a Young Critic: Letters 1894–1928 (London: Owen, 1956);

In a Great Tradition: Tribute to Dame Laurentia McLachlan, edited by the Nuns of Stanbrook (New York: Harper, 1956)–includes letters from Shaw;

Bernard Shaw’s Letters to Granville Barker, edited by C. B. Purdom (New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1957; London: Phoenix House, 1957);

To a Young Actress: the Letters of Bernard Shaw to Molly Tompkins, edited by Peter Tompkins (New York: Potter, 1960; London: Constable, 1961);

Collected Letters, 1856–1950, 4 volumes, edited by Dan H. Laurence (London: Reinhardt, 1965–1988);

Bernard Shaw’s and Alfred Douglas: A Correspondence, edited by Mary Hyde (London: Murray, 1982; New Haven: Ticknor & Fields, 1982);

The Playwright and the Pirate. Bernard Shaw and Frank Harris, a correspondence 1898–1930, edited by Stanley Weintraub (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1982);

Agitations: Letters to the Press 1875–1950, edited by Laurence and James Rambeau (New York: Ungar, 1985);

Bernard Shaw’s Letters to Siegfried Trebitsch, edited by Samuel A. Weiss (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1986);

Dear Mr. Shaw: Selections From Bernard Shaw’s Postbag, edited by Vivian Elliot (London: Bloomsbury, 1988);

Eileen O’Casey, Cheerio, Titan: The Friendship between George Bernard Shaw and Eileen and Sean 0’Casey (New York: Scribners, 1989);

Letters from Margaret: Correspondence between Bernard Shaw and Margaret Wheeler, 1944–1950, edited by Rebecca Swift (London: Chatto & Windus, 1992);

Shaw, Lady Gregory and the Abbey: A Correspondence and a Record, edited by Laurence and Nicholas Grene (Gerrards Cross, U.K.: Colin Smythe, 1993);

Theatrics: Selected Correspondence of Bernard Shaw, edited by Laurence (Toronto & London: University of Toronto Press, 1995);

Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells, edited by J. Percy Smith, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995);

Bernard Shaw and Gabriel Pascal, edited by Bernard F. Dukore (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996);

Shaw on Theatre: a Half Century of Advices (Lewisburg, Pa.: Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library, Bucknell University, The Press of Apple Tree Alley, 1998);

Correspondence with Bernard and Charlotte Shaw, T. E. Lawrence (Fordingbridge: Castle Hill, 2000).

Bernard Shaw and the Webbs, edited by Alex C. Michalos and Deborah C. Poff (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002);

Bernard Shaw and Barry Jackson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002);

Bernard Shaw and Nancy Astor (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005).


Shaw: Interviews and Recollections, edited by A. M. Gibbs (Basingstoke, U.K.: Macmillan, 1990; Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1990).


Dan H. Laurence, Bernard Shaw: A Bibliography, 2 volumes (London: Oxford University Press, 1982);

J. P. Wearing, ed., G. B. Shaw: An Annotated Bibliography of Writings about Him, 3 volumes (De Kalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1986–1987);

Margery Morgan, File on Shaw (Portsmouth, N.H.: Methuen Drama, Michelin House, 1987);

Stanley Weintraub, Bernard Shaw: A Guide to Research (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992);

Laurence and Fred D. Crawford, Bibliographical Shaw, (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000).


Archibald Henderson, George Bernard Shaw. His Life and Works (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1911; Cincinnati: Stewart & Kidd, 1911);

Frank Harris, Bernard Shaw. An Unauthorized Biography Based on First-hand Information, with a Postscript by Mr. Shaw, edited by Shaw (London: Gollancz, 1931; New York: Simon & Schuster, 1931);

Henderson, Bernard Shaw, Playboy and Prophet (New York: Appleton, 1932);

Hesketh Pearson, Bernard Shaw. His Life and Personality (London: Collins, 1942); republished as Bernard Shaw. A Full-Length Portrait (New York: Harper, 1942; revised edition, London: Methuen, 1951; New York: Atheneum, 1963);

Blanche Patch, Thirty Years with G.B.S. (London: Gollancz, 1951; New York: Dodd, Mead, 1951);

R. F. Rattray, Bernard Shaw. A Chronicle (New York: Roy, 1951);

St. John Ervine, Bernard Shaw. His Life, Work and Friends (London: Constable, 1956; New York: Morrow, 1956);

Henderson, George Bernard Shaw. Man of the Century (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1956);

Stephen Winsten, Jesting Apostle, the Life of Bernard Shaw (London: Hutchinson, 1956);

Henry George Farmer, Bernard Shaw’s Sister and Her Friends (Leiden, U.K.: Brill, 1959);

Allan Chappelow, Shaw the Villager and Human Being. A Biographical Symposium (London: Skilton, 1961);

Stanley Weintraub, Private Shaw and Public Shaw. A Dual Biography of Lawrence of Arabia and Bernard Shaw (New York: Braziller, 1963; London: Cape, 1963);

B. C. Rosset, Shaw of Dublin. The Formative Years (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1964);

J. Percy Smith, The Unrepentant Pilgrim. A Study of the Development of Bernard Shaw (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965);

John O’Donovan, Shaw and the Charlatan Genius (Dublin: Dolmen, 1965);

J. R. Minney. Recollections of George Bernard Shaw (Englewood, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969);

Weintraub, Journey to Heartbreak. The Crucible Years of Bernard Shaw, 1914–1918 (New York: Weybright & Talley, 1971); republished as Bernard Shaw 1914–1918: Journey to Heartbreak (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973);

Nathaniel Harris, The Shaws. The Family of Bernard Shaw (London: Dent, 1977);

Margot Peters, Bernard Shaw and the Actresses (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1980);

Michael Holroyd, Bernard Shaw, 1856–1950, 5 volumes (London: Chatto & Windus, 1988–1992).


Anthony S. Abbott, Shaw and Christianity (New York: Seabury Press, 1965);

Elsie B. Adams, Bernard Shaw and the Aesthetes (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1971);

Sidney P. Albert, “Bernard Shaw: The Artist as Philosopher,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 14 (1956): 419–438;

Albert, “‘In More Ways Than One’: Major Barbara’s Debt to Gilbert Murray,” Educational Theatre Journal, 20 (1968): 123–140;

Albert, “More Shaw Advice to the Players of Major Barbara,” Theatre Survey, 11 (1970): 66–85;

Albert, “The Price of Salvation: Moral Economics in Major Barbara,” Modern Drama, 14 (1971): 307–323;

Albert, “Shaw’s Advice to the Players of Major Barbara,” Theatre Survey, 10 (1969): 1–17;

Awam Amkpa, “Drama and the Languages of Postcolonial Desire: Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion,” Irish University Review: A Journal of Irish Studies, 29 (Autumn-Winter 1999): 294–304;

W. H. Auden, “The Fabian Figaro,” in George Bernard Shaw: A Critical Survey, edited by Louis Kronenberger (Cleveland: World, 1953), pp. 153–157;

Julius Bab, Bernard Shaw (Berlin: Fischer, 1926);

Stuart E. Baker, Bernard Shaw’s Remarkable Religion: a Faith that Fits the Facts (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002);

Alan P. Barr, Victorian Stage Pulpiteer: Bernard Shaw’s Crusade (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1973);

Eric Bentley, Bernard Shaw, 1856–1950 (New York: New Directions, 1957);

Bentley, “The Making of a Dramatist (1892–1903),” foreword to Plays, by Shaw (New York: New American Library, 1960);

Gordon N. Bergquist, The Pen and the Sword: War and Peace in the Prose and Plays of Bernard Shaw (Salzburg, Austria: Institut fur Englische Sprache und Literatur, 1977);

Albert Bermel, “A Shavian Whodunit: The Mysterious Mr. Warren,” Independent Shavian, 38 (2000): 6–15;

Charles A. Berst, Bernard Shaw and the Art of Drama (Champaign & Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973);

Berst, ed., “Bernard Shaw Scholarship of the Past 25 Years, and Future Priorities: A Transcript of the 1975 MLA Conference of Scholars on Shaw,” Shaw Review, 19 (May 1976): 56–72;

Berst, ed., Shaw and Religion (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1981);

John A. Bertolini, The Playwrighting Self of Bernard Shaw (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991);

Earle Dean Bevan, Concordance to the Plays and Prefaces of Bernard Shaw, 10 volumes (Detroit: Gale Research, 1971);

Harold Bloom, ed., George Bernard Shaw (Broomall, Pa.: Chelsea House, 2000);

Patrick Braybrook, The Subtlety of George Bernard Shaw (New York: Haskell House, 1973);

Hans-Peter Breuer, “Form and Feeling: George Bernard Shaw as Music Critic,” Journal of Irish Literature, 11 (September 1982): 74–102;

Ian Britain, “Bernard Shaw, Ibsen, and the Ethics of English Socialism,” Victorian Studies, 21 (Spring 1978): 381–401;

Britain, “A Transplanted Doll’s House: Ibsenism, Feminism and Socialism in Late-Victorian and Edwardian England,” in Transformations in Modern European Drama, edited by Ian Donaldson (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities, 1983), pp. 14–54;

Ivor Brown, Shaw in His Time (London: Nelson, 1965);

Ronald Bryden and Denis Johnston, Shaw and his Contemporaries: Theatre Essays (Oakville, Ont. & Niagara Falls, N.Y.: Mosaic Press; Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont: Academy of the Shaw Festival, 2002);

Charles A. Carpenter, Bernard Shaw and the Art of Destroying Ideals: The Early Plays (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969);

Pat M. Carr, Bernard Shaw (New York: Ungar, 1976);

Christopher Caudwell, “George Bernard Shaw: A Study of the Bourgeois Superman,” in Five Approaches of Literary Criticism, edited by Wilbur S. Scott (New York: Collier, 1962);

Allan Chappelow, Shaw–“The Chucker-Out” (London: Allen & Unwin, 1969);

Wendi Chen, The Reception of George Bernard Shaw in China, 1918–1996 (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2002);

G. K. Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw (London: John Lane, 1909);

L. W. Conolly and Ellen Pearson, eds., Bernard Shaw on Stage: Papers from the 1989 International Shaw Conference (Guelph, Ont.: University of Guelph Press, 1991);

Donald P. Costello, The Serpent’s Eye: Shaw and the Cinema (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 1960);

Gordon Couchman, This Our Caesar. A Study of Bernard Shaw’sCaesar and Cleopatra” (The Hague: Mouton, 1973);

Fred D. Crawford, “Bernard Shaw’s Theory of Literary Art,” Journal of General Education, 34 (Spring 1982): 20–34;

Louis Crompton, Introduction to his The Road to Equality: Ten Unpublished Lectures and Essays ,1884–1918 (Boston: Beacon, 1971);

Crompton, Shaw the Dramatist (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1969);

Jane Ann Crum, “Stanley Kauffmann on the Unknown Shaw,” in Conversations with Stanley Kauffmann, edited by Bert Cardullo (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003), pp. 120–133;

Tracy C. Davis, George Bernard Shaw and the Socialist Theatre (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994);

Daniel Dervin, Bernard Shaw: A Psychological Study (Lewis burg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1975);

Richard Farr Dietrich, Bernard Shaw’s Novels: Portraits of the Artist as Man and Superman (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1996);

Dietrich, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Superman: A Study of Shaw’s Novels (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1969);

Bernard F. Dukore, Bernard Shaw, Director (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1971);

Dukore, Bernard Shaw, Playwright: Aspects of Shavian Drama (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1973);

Dukore, Shaw’s Theater (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2000);

Dukore, ed., Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man.” A Composite Production Book (Carbondale & Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982);

Joshua Essaka, Pygmalion and Galatea: the History of a Narrative in English Literature (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2001);

Judith Evans, The Politics and Plays of Bernard Shaw (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2003);

T. F. Evans, Shaw: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976);

Evans, ed., Shaw and Politics (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991);

Harold Fromm, Bernard Shaw and the Theater in the Nineties: A Study of Shaw’s Dramatic Criticism (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1967);

Edmund Fuller, George Bernard Shaw: Critic of Western Morale (New York: Scribners, 1950);

William B. Furlong, Shaw and Chesterton: The Metaphysical Jesters (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1970);

Peter Gahan, Shaw Shadows: Rereading the Texts of Bernard Shaw (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2004);

J. Ellen Gainor, Shaw’s Daughters: Dramatic and Narrative Constructions of Gender (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991);

Arthur Ganz, George Bernard Shaw (New York: Grove, 1983);

Keith Garebian, George Bernard Shaw and Christopher Newton: Explorations of the Shavian Theatre (Oakville, Ont. & Niagara Falls, N.Y: Mosaic, 1993);

John Gassner, “Bernard Shaw and the Making of the Modern Mind,” College English, 23 (April 1962): 517–525;

A. M. Gibbs, A Bernard Shaw Chronology (New York: Palgrave, 2001);

Gibbs, Shaw (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1969);

Gibbs, Shaw: Interviews and Recollections (Basingstoke, U.K.: Macmillan, 1990);

Gibbs, ed., Bernard Shaw: Man and Superman and Saint Joan: A Casebook (London: Macmillan, 1992);

Michael Goldberg, “The Dickens Debate: G. B. S. vs. G. K. C,” Shaw Review, 20 (September 1977): 135–147;

David J. Gordon, Bernard Shaw and the Comic Sublime (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990);

Benny Green, Shaw’s Champions: G.B.S. and Prizefighting from Cashel Byron to Gene Tunney (London: Elm Tree Books, 1978);

Norbert Greiner, “Shaw’s Aesthetics and Socialist Realism,” Shaw Review, 22 (January 1979): 33–45;

Nicholas Grene, Bernard Shaw: A Critical View (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984);

Gareth Griffith, Socialism and Superior Brains: The Political Thought of Bernard Shaw (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1993);

Martha Hadsel, “The Uncommon-Common Metaphor in Shaw’s Dramatic Criticism,” Shaw Review, 23 (September 1980): 119–129;

Phyllis Hartnoll, Who’s Who in Shaw (New York: Taplinger, 1975);

Calvin T. Higgs, “Shaw’s Use of Vergil’s Aeneid in Arms and the Man,” Shaw Review, 19 (1976): 2–16;

Eldon C. Hill, George Bernard Shaw (Boston: Twayne, 1978);

Michael Holroyd, ed., The Genius of Shaw: A Symposium (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1979);

Frances Hughes, “Noel Coward and Shaw: An Aide-Memoir,” Shavian: The Journal of the Shaw Society, 9 (Winter: 2002–2003): 16–18;

Leon Hugo, Bernard Shaw: Playwright and Preacher (London: Methuen, 1971);

Hugo, Bernard Shaw s The Black Girl in Search of God: the Story behind the Story (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2003);

Hugo, Edwardian Shaw: the Writer and his Age (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999);

James Hulse, “Shaw: Socialist Maverick,” in his Revolutionists in London: A Study of Five Unorthodox Socialists (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 111–137;

Paul A. Hummert, Bernard Shaw’s Marxian Romance (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973);

Christopher Innes, ed., The Cambridge Companion to George Bernard Shaw (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998);

William Irvine, “Shaw’s Quintessence of Ibsenism,” South Atlantic Quarterly, 46 (April 1947): 252–262;

Holbrook Jackson, Bernard Shaw, 2nd edition (Freeport, N.Y: Books for Libraries, 1970);

Jack Kalmar, “Shaw on Art,” Modern Drama, 2 (September 1959): 147–159;

R. J. Kaufman, ed., G. B. Shaw: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1965);

Julian B. Kaye, Bernard Shaw and the Nineteenth-Century Tradition (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958);

Louis Kronenberger, The Thread of Laughter (New York: Hill & Wang, 1952);

Lawrence Langner, G.B.S. and the Lunatic (New York: Atheneum, 1963);

Gale Kjelshus Larson, Shaw and History (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999);

Larson and Mary Ann K. Crawford, eds, Shaw. The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1981–)–Special Issue on Shaw’s Brave New World (2003);

Dan H. Laurence, Shaw: An Exhibit (Austin: University of Texas Humanities Research Center, 1977);

Laurence, Shaw, Books and Libraries (Austin: University of Texas, Humanities Research Center, 1976);

Daniel Leary, “Heartbreak House: A Dramatic Epic,” Independent Shavian, 37 (1999): 3–13;

Lagretta Tallent Lenker, Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare and Shaw (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001);

Paul H. Lorenz, “The Shavian Gospel as Revealed in The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God,” Publications of the Mississippi Philological Association (2001): 15–25;

Sonja Lorichs, The Unwomanly Woman in Bernard Shaw’s Drama and Her Social and Political Background (Stockholm: Uppsala, 1973);

Jerry Lutz, Pitchman’s Melody, Shaw about “Shakespear’ (Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1974);

Desmond MacCarthy, Shaw: The Plays (London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1951; Newton Abbot, U.K.: David & Charles, 1973);

Norman MacKenzie and Jeanne MacKenzie, The Fabians (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1977);

Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson, Theatrical Companion to Shaw (London: Rockliff, 1954);

Keith May, Ibsen and Shaw (New York: St. Martin’s Press 1985);

Fred Mayne, The Wit and Satire of Bernard Shaw (London: Arnold, 1967);

Martin Meisel, “The Real Shaw,” Victorian Studies: A Journal of the Humanities, Arts and Sciences, 41 (Winter 1998): 265–276;

Meisel, Shaw and the Nineteenth-Century Theater (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963);

John A. Mills, Language and Laughter: Comic Dialectic in the Plays of Bernard Shaw (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1969);

Margery M. Morgan, The Shavian Playground: An Exploration of the Art of George Bernard Shaw (London: Methuen, 1972);

Harry Morrison, The Socialism of Bernard Shaw (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1989);

Arthur H. Nethercot, Men and Supermen: The Shavian Portrait Gallery (New York: Blom, 1966);

Richard Nickson, “The Art of Shavian Political Drama,” Independent Shavian, 39 (2001): 51–58;

Nickson, “The Lure of Stalinism: Bernard Shaw and Company,” Independent Shavian, 40 (2002), 31–43;

John O’Donovan, Bernard Shaw (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1983);

Richard M. Ohmann, Shaw: The Style and The Man (Middleton, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1962);

Harold E. Pagliaro, Relations between the Sexes in the Plays of George Bernard Shaw (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2004);

Sally Peters, Bernard Shaw: Ascent of the Superman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996);

Michel W. Pharand, Bernard Shaw and the French (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2000);

Pharand, Dionysian Shaw (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004);

Jill M. Phillips, George Bernard Shaw: A Review of the Literature (New York: Gordon Press, 1976);

Martin Quinn, “Dickens as Shavian Metaphor,” Shaw Review, 18 (1975): 44–56;

Valli Rao, “Vivie Warren in the Blakean World of Experience,” Shaw Review, 22 (1979): 123–134;

Jean Reynolds, Pygmalion’s Wordplay: The Postmodern Shaw (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1999);

Norman Rosenblood, ed., Shaw: Seven Critical Essays (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971);

B. C. Rosset, Shaw of Dublin. The Formative Years (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1964);

Susan Rusinko and Weintraub, Shaw and Other Matters: A Festschrift for Stanley Weintraub on the Occasion of his Forty-second Anniversary at the Pennsylvania State University (Selinsgrove, Pa.: Susquehanna University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1998);

Ann Saddlemyer, “John Bull’s Other Island: ‘Seething in the Brain,’” Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 25 (1999): 219–240;

William Searle, The Saint and the Skeptics: Joan of Arc in the Work of Mark Twain, Anatole France and Bernard Shaw (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1976);

Shaw Review (University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press), special issues: Shaw/Shakespeare (1971), Shaw/Shelley (1972), Shaw and Science Fiction (1973), Shaw and Woman (1974), Shaw around the World (1977), Shaw and Dickens (1977), and Shaw and Myth (1978);

Arnold Silver, Bernard Shaw: The Darker Side (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1982);

Herbert Skimpole, Bernard Shaw: The Man and His Work (London: Allen & Unwin, 1982);

Barbara Small, “Shaw on Standard Stage Speech,” Shaw Review, 22 (1979): 106–113;

J. Percy Smith, The Unrepentant Pilgrim. A Study of the Development of Bernard Shaw (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965);

Warren S. Smith, The Bishop of Everywhere: Bernard Shaw and the Life Force (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1982);

Mark H. Sterner, Shaw’s Devil’s Disciple: The Subversion of Melodrama/The Melodrama of Subversion, Modern Drama, 42 (Fall 1999): 338–345;

Alfred Turco, “Ibsen, Wagner, and Shaw’s Changing View of ‘Idealism,’” Shaw Review, 17 (May 1974): 78–85;

Turco, Shaw’s Moral Vision: The Self and Salvation (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1976);

Turco, “Shaw’s Pragmatist Ethic: A New Look at The Quintessence of Ibsenism,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language: A Journal of the Humanities, 17 (Winter 1976): 855–879;

Tramble T. Turner, “George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950),” in Irish Playwrights, 1880–1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook, edited by Bernice Schrank and William W. Demastes (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997);

Maurice Valency, The Cart and the Trumpet: The Plays of George Bernard Shaw (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973);

Vincent Wall, Bernard Shaw: Pygmalion to Many Players (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1973);

Gary Wiener, Readings on Pygmalion (San Diego: Green-haven, 2002);

Rodelle Weintraub, ed., Fabian Feminist (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977);

Rodelle Weintraub and Stanley Weintraub, eds., Shaw. The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies, continuing the Shaw Review (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1981–); special issues: Shaw and Religion, 1 (1981); Shaw Plays in Performance, 3 (1983); Shaw Abroad, 5 (1985); The Neglected Plays, 7 (1987);

Stanley Weintraub, “Bernard Shaw,” in Anglo-Irish Literature: A Review of Research, edited by Richard J. Finneran (New York: Modern Language Association, 1976), pp. 167–215;

Weintraub, “Bernard Shaw,” in Recent Research on Anglo-Irish Writers–A Supplement to Anglo-Irish Literature: A Review of Research, edited by Finneran (New York: Modern Language Association, 1983), pp. 67–84;

Weintraub, “Bernard Shaw’s Other Irelands: 1915–1919,” English Literature in Transition, 42 (1999): 433–442;

Weintraub, “Shaw’s Lear,” [Heartbreak House], Ariel, 1 (1970): 59–68;

Weintraub, Shaw’s People: Victoria to Churchill (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996);

Weintraub, The Unexpected Shaw: Biographical Approaches to Shaw and His Work (New York: Ungar, 1982);

Weintraub, ed., Bernard Shaw on the London Art Scene, 1885–1950 (University Park & London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989);

Robert F. Whitman, “Born Again: A Review of Recent Shaw Scholarship,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language: A Journal of the Humanities, 20 (Spring 1978): 267–301;

Whitman, “The Passion of Dick Dudgeon,” Shaw Review, 21 (1978): 60–71;

Whitman, Shaw and the Play of Ideas (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977);

Colin Wilson, Bernard Shaw: A Reassessment (London: Hutchinson, 1969);

Edmund Wilson, The Triple Thinkers (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963);

Stephen Winsten, Days with Bernard Shaw (New York: Vanguard, 1949);

J. L. Wisenthal, The Marriage of Contraries: Bernard Shaw’s Middle Plays (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974);

Wisenthal, “Shaw and Ibsen,” in his Shaw and Ibsen: Bernard Shaw’s The Quintessence of Ibsenism and Related Writings (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979);

Wisenthal, Shaw’s Sense of History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988);

Milton T. Wolf, Shaw and Science Fiction (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997);

Homer E. Woodbridge, George Bernard Shaw: Creative Artist (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1963);

Samuel A. Yorks, The Evolution of Bernard Shaw (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1981).


The major repositories of Shaw correspondence and manuscripts are the Shaw Archive at the British Library, London; and the Hanley Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. Other important collections are at the National Library of Ireland, the New York Public Library (Berg Collection), the University of North Carolina (Henderson Collection), Cornell University (Burgunder Collection), Bucknell University (Butler Collection), and the Houghton Library of Harvard University. The libraries of Boston University, Yale University, and Hofstra University have significant holdings as well.

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Shaw, George Bernard (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)

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