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Shaw, Bernard 1940–

Bernard Shaw 1940

Television news anchor and reporter

At a Glance

Hungry for International Experience

Taking a Career Gamble

Chicken Noodle Network

From The Center of Hell

A Star Is Born

Sources

Television news anchor Bernard Shaws dispassionate manner, steady gaze, rich baritone voice, and crisply precise delivery virtually blend into the fabric of the news. As Cable News Networks (CNN) principal Washington anchor, he takes a serious approach to journalism and is widely regarded for his belief that the messenger should not get in the way of the message. Shaw has worked for two of the three national television networks, CBS and ABC, and holds the number one anchor position at a number one ranked TV news networkthe fourth networkCNN. In a career spanning three decades, he has covered some of modern historys most dramatic events: Watergate (a political scandal that centered on the infiltration of Democratic party headquarters by Republicans during the 1972 presidential campaign), the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide, the Nicaraguan Revolution, Chinas Tiananmen Square student massacre, and American involvement in the Persian Gulf War. As CNNs top anchor, Shaw is at the helm of televisions news phenomenon: a 24-hour, all-news cable network that has arisen as a challenge to the three leading networks.

Shaw is one of the rare few who has realized his childhood dreams. He grew up during the years of World War II, the emergence of television, and the days that begat the baby boom. His father was a house painter, his mother cleaned other peoples homes, and they lived on the South Side of Chicago. But far from being isolated in the wrong part of town and at the wrong end of the economic spectrum, the family brought the world into their home. In those days, Shaw told Parade Magazine, Chicago had four papers and we got all four every day. Even in his teens, Shaw had an obsessive interest in the news. My ritual on Sunday morning was to walk to a place called the Green Door bookstore near the University of Chicago, which was the closest place I could find the Sunday New York Times, Shaw told New York magazine. Fourteen years old, paper cradled in his arms, the boy would plant himself in a coffeeshop and read the paper all the way through. But Shaw was not merely a spectator. He made announcements on the school public address system, participated in radio amateur hours, and, while some teenagers of the 1950s may have been totally absorbed in the birth of rock n roll, Shaw found time to dial up newspaper and broadcast reporters and pepper them with questions about story preparation and deadline

At a Glance

Born May 22, 1940, in Chicago, IL; son of Edgar (a railroad man and house painter) and Camilia (a housekeeper; maiden name, Murphy) Shaw; married Linda Allston, 1973; children: Amar Edgar, Anil Louise. Education: Attended University of Illinois, 1963-66.

Reporter, correspondent, and news anchor. WYNR/WNUS all-news radio, Chicago, IL, reporter and anchor, 1964-66; Westinghouse Broadcasting Companys Group W, Chicago, reporter, 1966-68, White House correspondent, 1968-71; Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS-TV), reporter for Washington bureau, 1971-74, correspondent, 1974-77; American Broadcasting Companies (ABC-TV), Miami bureau chief and Latin American correspondent, 1977-79, also ABC-News senior Capitol Hill correspondent; Cable News Network (CNN), Washington DC, news anchor, 1980; one of three CNN Gulf War correspondents in Baghdad, 1991. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1959-63.

Awards: International Platform Associations Lowell Thomas Electronic Journalist Award, 1988; Award for Cable Excellence from the National Academy of Cable Programming, 1988; Emmy Award, 1989, for outstanding coverage of a single breaking news story; gold medal, 32nd annual International Film and TV Festival of New York, 1989; National Association of Black Journalists annual award, 1989; George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award, 1990; ACE Award, 1990; Bernard Shaw Endowment Fund created by University of Illinois, 1991; Eduard Rhein Foundations Cultural-H/Journalistic Award, 1991.

Member: Society of Professional Journalists (fellow), National Press Club, Sigma Delta Chi.

Addresses: Office Cable News Network, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., 111 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., 3rd Floor, Washington, D.C. 20001.

pressures. Even in his youth, Shaws tastes in television programming ran toward the news and information genre: he used to watch the television news program Meet the Press religiously, and his hero was legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow. At 16, he personally witnessed his second Democratic conventionhe had managed to engineer his way into both the 1952 and 1956 conventions. Shaw told Time: When I looked up at the anchor booths, I knew I was looking at the altar.

On the road to the altar, Shaw wangled another opportunity to speak to a journalist about his craft. It was 1961, the beginning of an era of political tensions that resulted in such historic moves as the construction of the Berlin Wall by the East German government and the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis (a period of threatened military confrontation between the U.S. and Soviet governments following the American discovery of Soviet missile sites in Cuba). Shaw was a 21-year-old corporal in the Marines stationed in Hawaii at the time, and Walter Cronkite, his other hero, was passing through. With the tenacity of youthor perhaps that of a budding reporterthe corporal rang Cronkites room a total of 34 times. He was the most persistent guy Ive ever met in my life, Cronkite said in the Washington Post, I was going to give him five begrudging minutes and ended up talking to him for a half hour. He was just determined to be a journalist. The two have been friends ever since.

In 1963, with four years of the marines behind him, a new sense of maturity, and college money, Shaw entered the University of Illinois, choosing history as his major. His career in journalism officially began just a year later when he joined Chicagos WNUS, one of the nations first all-news radio stations. He worked there as a reporter and anchor until 1966 when Westinghouse Broadcasting Companys Group W offered him a job. He quit school, relocated to Washington, D.C., and, at 28, became a White House correspondent. In the five years with Westinghouse Shaws assignments included local and national urban affairs, and the struggles of Hispanics and Native Americans.

In 1971, Walter Cronkite helped Shaw land a job with CBS. Shaw started as a reporter for the CBS News Washington bureau and in three years became a correspondent. It was during this period that his career got a boost: he conducted an exclusive interview with then attorney general John Mitchell. It was the height of the Watergate crisis and Mitchell, who was to be convicted for his role in the affair, was a major figure in the scandal. White House correspondent Shaw had pulled off a journalistic coup.

Hungry for International Experience

After nearly ten years of reporting from Capitol Hill, Shaw was restless. He was hungry for international experience. When ABC offered him the job of Miami bureau chief and Latin American correspondent, an impressive but less visible position, he grabbed it. I pushed myself out the door, Shaw told the New York Times. The three years he spent with ABC proved especially eventful.

As Latin American correspondent from 1977 to 1979, Shaw covered the 1979 resignation and exile of Nicaraguas enigmatic president, General Anastasio Somoza, and the months of simmering civil war that enveloped it. The year before, Shaw flew to South America when assigned to investigate rumors of a bizarre massacre in the remote jungles of Guyana. The scene was Jonestown, a religious commune named after its leader, Reverend Jim Jones, and populated by transplanted American families. Shaw was one of the first reporters to file from location, and he scooped the other networks by providing the only aerial photos of the tragedy. The picture that confronted them was sickening: the decomposing bodies of 911 men, women, and children who had died by drinking poisoned punch. The reverend had led the cultists to this mass suicide-execution as a reaction to a U.S. representatives investigation of alleged mistreatment of the American citizens. Shaw commented in Parade Magazine, You know how cameramen will shoot 15 minutes of tape just to be sure they get one shot right? Well, at Jonestown, a cameraman could [only] shoot for about six seconds before turning around and retching. Thats how bad it was.

Back at the bureau Shaw told a colleague that he felt very lucky to have gotten the Jonestown story, adding, as quoted in the Washington Post, You always have luck when you hustle. And, as if to confirm this philosophy, ABC chose Shaw to file special reports during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis at the American embassy in Teheran. That led to Shaws return to Washington as ABCs senior Capitol Hill correspondent.

Taking a Career Gamble

1979 was a tumultuous year for personnel at ABC News. As a result, Shaws colleague, Washington bureau chief George Watson, left to help start CNN, a 24-hour, all-news cable network. Watson urged Shaw to follow him as the new networks principal anchor. I had been negotiating a new contract with ABC, but I was dissatisfied with the terms, so I started talking to [maverick broadcasting entrepreneur and CNN founder] Ted Turner, Shaw told New York magazine. The time period in which I was trying to decide, it seemed like agony to me. Id only been married three years and our children were very small, and I couldnt selfishly take that gamble by myself. His worries were compounded by an economy in recession with double digit inflation. Its no exaggeration, Shaw added, I walked around the dining room for two weeks, talking to myself. My wife, Linda, would wake up around one in the morning and come downstairs. So, finally we just sat down at the dining room table and she said, Okay, you should take the job, because if you dont and CNN takes off, I wont be able to live with you. Network bosses told Shaw it would ruin his career, but he disagreed. I saw it as perhaps the last frontier on television, he told the New York Times. The first all-news TV network seemed like revolutionary stuff to me.

Chicken Noodle Network

For three decades the rule of the Big Three had never been seriously challenged and, while they smugly claimed that no one else could pull together the resources to compete, Turner was telling Business Week, The Turner broadcasting group is going to be the greatest business success story of all time.

The so-called Chicken Noodle Network began broadcasting from its Atlanta headquarters on June 1, 1980. Using new satellite technology for live transmission, CNNs staff of three hundred fresh faces drew on ceaseless energy to get the news out as it was happening, at any hour of the day or night. The cable networks viewership rose and its presence began to be felt. But it wasnt until 1987 that it achieved a contenders rank. That status seemed to become official when Shaws became the fourth chairjoining those of CBS, NBC, and ABCin a nationally televised interview with then U.S. president Ronald Reagan, held in the Oval Office on the eve of the summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. That event served to introduce CNN and Shaw to millions of non-cable viewers. Another nationally televised event only a few months later ingrained Shaws face and style into viewers minds. But not all liked what they saw.

In April of 1988 Shaw moderated the second presidential debate from Los Angeles. In his role, he seemed rough with the debate audience, warning them that he would tell them to keep quiet only once. And, in general, he was his usual serious self. But it was his opening questions to the two candidates that caused a stir. George Bush was asked if he wouldnt be worried about the country under President Dan Quayles leadership in the event Bush died before inauguration. Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was asked if he would still be against the death penalty if someone raped and murdered his wife Kitty Dukakis. Ive heard the questions called ghoulish and tasteless, Shaw told the Washington Post, I spent more than a day and a half working on those two questions. They were not asked with trivia in mind. Its difficult to accuse Shaw of being trivial. I hope I didnt seem severe, he added, I took the job seriously.

The next couple of years drew Shaw into international news. He covered the 1988 Reagan-Gorbachev Moscow Summit; President Bushs first visit to Eastern Europe, and his participation in the 1989 Economic Summit in Paris; Japanese Emperor Hirohitos funeral; and the 40th-anniversary North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Brussels. In May of 1989, Shaw received his biggest story yet: he provided 30 hours of continuous live coverage, worldwide, on the historic student demonstrations in Beijing, China. He was one of only two American anchors in Tiananmen Square when the Chinese governments tanks rolled in and crushed the pro-democracy movement.

From The Center of Hell

Although Shaw initially expressed doubts about the probability of war between the United States and Iraq, four months later he admitted in Gentlemens Quarterly that this had been a prediction grounded in hope. In January of 1991, he was in Baghdad to interview Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein when history took a turn. On the 16th, just one day after the aborted interview, Shaw found himself strandedalong with CNN colleagues, Peter Arnett and John Hollimanin the enemy capital as the allied bombing attack launched the Gulf War. Shaw was one of the first reporters to announce to the world that the United States and its allies had gone to war, and CNN went on to provide continuous coverage for the conflicts duration. Even after every major newspaper had pulled out, after the Big Threes phonelines were cut, and after CNN lost its picture transmission, the network was able to make live reports from Baghdad via its secure phoneline. While the night sky was screaming with gunfire and air-raid warnings, the CNN trio crawled around the floor of their hotel room and delivered some of the most spellbinding audio reporting since Edward R. Murrows harrowing World War II accounts of the Nazi bombing of London. By the time we stopped broadcasting to get some sleep, Shaw told Parade Magazine, I was so tired I was making no sense whatsoever. I was no sooner in bed and asleep when the bombing started again, and I stumbled down the hall in my pajamas to the suite where we broadcast and went back to work. The experience unnerved the characteristically composed anchor. He announced: Clearly Ive never been there, but it feels like we are in the center of hell.

CNNs coverage was being cited by top Pentagon officials at press conferences while being eagerly viewed by Iraqi officials. CBS and NBC humbled themselves by asking the cable networks reporters for interviews. Television coverage of the war belonged to CNN because it provided an uninterrupted flow of raw information. This process empowered the public: the viewer became the news editor. Weve been training for this story 24 hours a day for ten years, CNNs executive vice-president Ed Turner (no relation to Ted Turner) told the Chicago Tribune. Live wartime coverage from the center of enemy camp is unprecedented.

A Star Is Born

Bernie Shaw came back to the U.S. a star. But the kudos and popular attention seemed unprofessional and embarrassing to him. He was happy to be reunited with his family and had more private thoughts on his mind. I came back from Baghdad a changed man, he told the Los Angeles Times. I looked death in the eyes. No human gets many chances to do that twice.

The journey from the South Side of Chicago to Baghdad was a long one, but Shaw never wavered, and that could have been easy in the beginning. The 1950s had no black Murrows as role models for a poor, young black boy with dreams of broadcast journalism. But I didnt see Ed Murrow as white, Shaw told the New York Times, I saw him as a journalist. Shaw knew that it was certainly possible that hed encounter racism along the way, but he says he has never been a knowing victim of it in his career.

Widely regarded as the nations most powerful black television journalist, Shaw has maintained his professional philosophy: a reporter must never get in the way of a story. As he told Essence magazine, I never wanted to sit in this chair until I felt in my mind and heart that I had the necessary experience to anchor.

Sources

Business Week, June 1980.

Chicago Tribune, January 20, 1991.

Essence, November 1990.

Gentlemens Quarterly, May 1991.

Los Angeles Times, April 11, 1991.

New York, February 1991.

New York Times, February 2, 1988; March 20, 1988.

Parade Magazine, June 23, 1991.

Time, February 22, 1988.

Washington Post, June 22, 1991.

Iva Sipal

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George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

The British playwright, critic, and pamphleteer George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) produced more than 52 plays and playlets, three volumes of music and drama criticism, and one major volume of socialist commentary.

George Bernard Shaw's theater extended to his personal life. He considered himself a cultural miracle, and a partisan conflict among his readers and playgoers provoked a massive body of literature for and against him and his work. Much recent criticism concludes that he ranks as the greatest English dramatist since William Shakespeare.

Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, on July 16, 1856. At an early age he was tutored in classics by an uncle, and when he was 10 years old, he entered the Wesleyan Connexional School in Dublin. There his academic performance was largely a failure. Shaw later described his own education: "I cannot learn anything that does not interest me. My memory is not indiscriminate, it rejects and selects; and its selections are not academic." Part of his nonacademic training was handled by his mother, a music teacher and a mezzo-soprano; Shaw studied music and art at the same time. He became a Dublin office boy in 1871 at a monthly salary equivalent to $4.50. Success in business threatened him: "I made good," he wrote, "in spite of myself and found, to my dismay, that Business, instead of expelling me as the worthless imposter I was, was fastening upon me with no intention of letting me go….In March, 1876, I broke loose." Resigning a cashier's position, Shaw joined his mother and two sisters in London, where they conducted a music school. Shaw had started writing, at the age of 16, criticism and reviews for Irish newspapers and magazines; in 4 years only one piece was accepted. Shaw lived in London for the 9 years after 1876 supported by his parents and continued to write criticism. He also entertained in London society as a singer.

Shaw as a Novelist

Between 1876 and 1885 Shaw wrote five novels. Immaturity, the first, remained unpublished, and the other four, after a series of rejections from London publishers, appeared in radical periodicals. To-Day published An Unsocial Socialist in 1884; it was designed as part of a massive projected work that would cover the entire social reform movement in England. Cashel Byron's Profession (1882) also appeared in To-Day; juvenile, nonsensical, at times hilarious, it was produced in 1901 as the drama The Admirable Bashville; or, Constancy Unrewarded. The IrrationalKnot, a portrayal of modern marriage that Shaw asserted anticipated Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, appeared in another radical periodical, Our Corner, as did Love among the Artists (1887-1888).

Political Activities and Writings

At the age of 23 Shaw had joined a socialist discussion group, of which Sydney Webb was a member, and he joined the Fabian Society in 1884. Fabian Essays (1887), edited by Shaw, emphasized the importance of economics and class structure; for him, economics was "the basis of society." In 1882 Shaw's conversion to socialism began when he heard Henry George, the American author of Progress and Poverty, address a London meeting. George's message "changed the whole current of my life." His reading of Karl Marx's Das Kapital in the same year "made a man of me." For 27 years Shaw served on the Fabian Society's executive committee. In his role as an active polemicist he later published Common Sense about the War on Nov. 14, 1914, a criticism of the British government and its policies. The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism (1928) supplied a complete summary of his political position. It remains a major volume of socialist commentary. For 6 years Shaw held office on a municipal level in a London suburb.

Shaw's other careers continued. Between 1888 and 1894 he wrote for newspapers and periodicals as a highly successful music critic. At the end of this period, he began writing on a regular basis for Frank Harris's Saturday Review; as a critic, he introduced Ibsen and the "new" drama to the British public. Shaw's Quintessence of Ibsenism appeared in 1890, The Sanity of Art in 1895, and The Perfect Wagnerite in 1898. All of them indicate the formation of his esthetics. He married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, an Irish heiress and fellow socialist, in 1898. She died in 1943.

The Plays

Shaw wrote drama between 1892 and 1947, when he completed Buoyant Billions at the age of 91. Widowers' Houses, his first play, was produced in 1892 at London's Royalty Theater. He identified this and the other early plays as "unpleasant." Widowers' Houses was about slum land-lordship. Preoccupied by the "new" woman, Shaw wrote The Philanderers in 1893. Also written in the same year but not produced until 1902 because of British censorship, Mrs. Warren's Profession revealed, he wrote, "the economic basis of modern commercial prostitution." Shaw's first stage successes, Arms and the Man and Candida, both of them "pleasant" plays, were produced in 1894. You Never Can Tell, first produced in 1896 and not often revived, is Shaw's most underrated comedy. The Vedrenne-Barker productions at the Royal Court Theater in London of Shaw, Shakespeare, and Euripides between 1904 and 1907 established Shaw's permanent reputation; 11 of his plays received 701 performances.

Shaw began as a dramatist writing against the mechanical habits of domestic comedy and against the Victorian romanticizing of Shakespeare and drama in general. He wrote that "melodramatic stage illusion is not an illusion of real life, but an illusion of the embodiment of our romantic imaginings."

Shaw's miraculous period began with Man and Superman (1901-1903). It was miraculous even for him; in a late play, Too True to Be Good (1932), one of the characters speaks for him: "My gift is divine: it is not limited by my petty personal convictions. Lucidity is one of the most precious of gifts: the gift of the teacher: the gift of explanation. I can explain anything to anybody; and I love doing it."

Major Barbara (1905) is a drama of ideas, largely about poverty and capitalism; like most of Shaw's drama, Major Barbara poses questions and finally contains messages or arguments. Androcles and the Lion (1911) discusses religion. John Bull's Other Island (1904), which is the least known of his major plays, concerns political relations between England and Ireland. Heartbreak House analyzes the domestic effects of World War I; written between 1913 and 1916, it was first produced in 1920. Most of the plays after Arms and the Man carry long prefaces that are often not directly related to the drama itself. Shaw systematically explored such topics as marriage, parenthood, education, and poverty in the prefaces.

Shaw's popular success was coupled with a growing critical success. Heartbreak House, Back to Methuselah (1921; he called it his "metabiological pentateuch"), Androcles and the Lion, and Saint Joan (1923) are considered his best plays. They were all written between the ages of 57 and 67.

Shaw Explaining Shaw

The plays of Shaw express, as did his life, a complex range of impulses, ambitions, and beliefs. Reflecting on his life and his work, he explained at 70: "If I am to be entirely communicative on this subject, I must add that the mere rawness which soon rubs off was complicated by a deeper strangeness which has made me all my life a sojourner on this planet rather than a native of it. Whether it be that I was born mad or a little too sane, my kingdom was not of this world: I was at home only in the realm of my imagination, and at ease only with the mighty dead. Therefore I had to become an actor, and create for myself a fantastic personality fit and apt for dealing with men, and adaptable to the various parts I had to play as an author, journalist, orator, politician, committee man, man of the world, and so forth. In all this I succeeded later on only too well."

Shaw was awarded the 1925 Nobel Prize for literature. At the patriarchal age of 94, he died in his home at Ayot St. Lawrence, England, on Nov. 2, 1950.

Further Reading

The literature on Shaw is extensive. Shaw wrote numerous letters, some of which are in Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters, 1874-1897, edited and with an introduction by Dan H. Laurence (1965), the first of a projected multivolume collection of his correspondence. Not particularly revealing of Shaw's private life is the Autobiography, edited by Stanley Weintraub (2 vols., 1969-1970), an assemblage of Shaw's personal writings on a host of topics over a half century.

The standard biography of Shaw is Archibald Henderson, Bernard Shaw: Playboy and Prophet (1932). William Irvine, The Universe of G.B.S. (1949), is one of many attempts at a definitive critical biography. Stanley Weintraub, Journey to Heartbreak: The Crucible Years of Bernard Shaw, 1914-1918 (1971), is a fascinating biographical study of Shaw during World War I. Two good introductions to Shaw and his work are G. K. Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw (1909), and Eric Bentley, Bernard Shaw (1947; 2d ed., 1967). Recently there has been a critical reassessment of Shaw. The most important works are Richard M. Ohmann, Shaw: The Style and the Man (1962), and Martin Meisel, Shaw and the Nineteenth-century Theater (1963). □

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Shaw, George Bernard

George Bernard Shaw

Born: July 26, 1856
Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 2, 1950
Ayot St. Lawrence, England

Irish playwright and critic

British playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw produced more than fifty plays and three volumes of music and drama criticism. Many critics consider him the greatest English dramatist since William Shakespeare (15641616).

Early years

George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, on July 26, 1856, the son of George Carr Shaw and Lucinda Elizabeth Gurly. His father was the co-owner of a corn mill and had a drinking problem. Shaw was tutored in classics by an uncle, and when he was ten years old, he entered the Wesleyan Connexional School in Dublin. Shaw hated school but loved reading and writing. He also learned a great deal about music and art from his mother, a music teacher and singer.

Shaw took a job as an office boy in 1871 at a monthly salary equal to $4.50. He resigned in 1876 to join his mother and two sisters in London, England, where they ran a music school. At the age of sixteen Shaw had started writing criticism and reviews for Irish newspapers and magazines; in four years only one piece was accepted. Shaw continued to write criticism while supported by his mother; he also entertained the London society as a singer.

Different kinds of writing

Between 1876 and 1885 Shaw wrote five novels. Immaturity, the first, remained unpublished for fifty years, and the other four appeared in various magazines. An Unsocial Socialist (1884) was designed as part of a massive projected history of the entire social reform movement in England. Cashel Byron's Profession (1882) was produced in 1901 as the drama The Admirable Bashville; or, Constancy Unrewarded. The Irrational Knot was a description of modern marriage that was similar to Henrik Ibsen's (18281906) A Doll's House. It appeared in a magazine called Our Corner, as did Love Among the Artists (188788).

In 1879 Shaw had joined a socialist (one who believes in a society in which the means of production are owned by the people) discussion group, and he joined the socialist Fabian Society in 1884. Fabian Essays (1887), edited by Shaw, discussed the importance of economics (the study of the production, distribution, and use of goods and services) and class structure. In 1882 two events completed Shaw's conversion to socialism: he heard a speech by Henry George, the American author of Progress and Poverty, and he read Karl Marx's (18181883) Das Kapital. In 1914 Shaw published Common Sense about the War, a criticism of the British government. The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism, published in 1928, remains a major volume of socialist thought.

Between 1888 and 1894 Shaw wrote for newspapers and magazines as a music critic. At the end of this period, he began writing regularly for the Saturday Review; as a critic, he helped introduce Ibsen to the British public. Shaw's Quintessence of Ibsenism appeared in 1890, The Sanity of Art in 1895, and The Perfect Wagnerite in 1898. He married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a fellow socialist, in 1898. She died in 1943.

Shaw's plays

Widowers' Houses, Shaw's first play, was produced in 1892. He identified this and his other early plays as "unpleasant." Shaw's first stage successes, Arms and the Man and Candida, were produced in 1894. You Never Can Tell, first produced in 1896 and not often performed, is Shaw's most underrated (not highly valued) comedy. The productions at the Royal Court Theater in London of the works of Shaw, Shakespeare, and Euripides (484406 b.c.e.) between 1904 and 1907 increased Shaw's popularity; eleven of his plays received 701 performances.

Major Barbara (1905) is a drama of ideas, largely about poverty and capitalism (a system in which prices, production, and distribution of goods are determined by competition in a free market); like most of Shaw's drama, the play poses questions and finally contains messages or arguments. Androcles and the Lion (1911) discusses religion. Heartbreak House deals with the effects of World War I (191418; a war fought between the German-led Central Powers and the Allies: England, the United States, Italy, and other nations) on England; written between 1913 and 1916, it was first produced in 1920. Shaw's plays explored such topics as marriage, parenthood, and education. Most of his plays after Arms and the Man begin with long essays that are often not directly related to the drama itself.

Shaw's popular success was coupled with growing critical respect. Heartbreak House, Back to Methuselah (1921), Androcles and the Lion, and Saint Joan (1923) are considered his best plays. Shaw was awarded the 1925 Nobel Prize for literature. He continued writing drama until 1947, when he completed Buoyant Billions at the age of ninety-one. He died in his home at Ayot St. Lawrence, England, on November 2, 1950.

For More Information

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

McCabe, Joseph. George Bernard Shaw: A Critical Study. New York: Haskell House Publishers, 1974.

Ohmann, Richard M. Shaw: The Style and the Man. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1962.

Peters, Sally. Bernard Shaw: The Ascent of the Superman. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.

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Shaw, George Bernard

George Bernard Shaw, 1856–1950, Irish playwright and critic. He revolutionized the Victorian stage, then dominated by artificial melodramas, by presenting vigorous dramas of ideas. The lengthy prefaces to Shaw's plays reveal his mastery of English prose. In 1925 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Early Life and Career

Born in Dublin, Shaw was the son of an unsuccessful merchant; his mother was a singer who eventually left her husband to teach singing in London. Shaw left school at 14 to work in an estate agent's office. In 1876 he went to London and for nine years was largely supported by his parents. He wrote five novels, several of them published in small socialist magazines. Shaw was himself an ardent socialist, a member of the Fabian Society, and a popular public speaker on behalf of socialism.

Work as a journalist led to his becoming a music critic for the Star in 1888 and for the World in 1890; his enthusiasm for Wagner proved infectious to his readers. As drama critic for the Saturday Review after 1895, he won readers to Ibsen; he had already written The Quintessence of Ibsenism (1891). In 1898 Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a wealthy, wellborn Irishwoman. By this time his plays were beginning to be produced.

Plays

Although Shaw's plays focus on ideas and issues, they are vital and absorbing, enlivened by memorable characterizations, a brilliant command of language, and dazzling wit. His early plays were published as Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (2 vol., 1898). The "unpleasant" plays were Widower's Houses (1892), on slum landlordism; The Philanderer (written 1893, produced 1905); and Mrs. Warren's Profession (written 1893, produced 1902), a jibe at the Victorian attitude toward prostitution. The "pleasant" plays were Arms and the Man (1894), satirizing romantic attitudes toward love and war; Candida (1893); and You Never Can Tell (written 1895).

In 1897 The Devil's Disciple, a play on the American Revolution, was produced with great success in New York City. It was published in the volume Three Plays for Puritans (1901) along with Caesar and Cleopatra (1899), notable for its realistic, humorous portraits of historical figures, and Captain Brassbound's Conversion (1900).

During the early 20th cent. Shaw wrote his greatest and most popular plays: Man and Superman (1903), in which an idealistic, cerebral man succumbs to marriage (the play contains an explicit articulation of a major Shavian theme—that man is the spiritual creator, whereas woman is the biological "life force" that must always triumph over him); Major Barbara (1905), which postulates that poverty is the cause of all evil; Androcles and the Lion (1912; a short play), a charming satire of Christianity; and Pygmalion (1913), which satirizes the English class system through the story of a cockney girl's transformation into a lady at the hands of a speech professor. The latter has proved to be Shaw's most successful work—as a play, as a motion picture, and as the basis for the musical and film My Fair Lady (1956; 1964).

Of Shaw's later plays, Saint Joan (1923) is the most memorable; it argues that Joan of Arc, a harbinger of Protestantism and nationalism, had to be killed because the world was not yet ready for her. In 1920 Shaw, much criticized for his antiwar stance, wrote Heartbreak House, a play that exposed the spiritual bankruptcy of the generation responsible for World War I.

Among Shaw's other plays are John Bull's Other Island (1904), The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), Fanny's First Play (1911), Back to Methuselah (1922), The Apple Cart (1928), Too True to Be Good (1932), The Millionairess (1936), In Good King Charles's Golden Days (1939), and Buoyant Billions (1949). Perhaps his most popular nonfiction work is The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928).

Bibliography

See his collected plays with their prefaces, ed. by D. H. Laurence (7 vol., 1970–75); his letters, particularly those to Ellen Terry (1931), Mrs. Patrick Campbell (1952), Granville-Barker (1957), and Molly Tompkins (1960); his collected letters, ed. by D. H. Laurence (4 vol., 1965–88); his complete musical criticism, ed. by D. H. Laurence (3 vol., 1981); and his autobiography, reconstructed by S. Weintraub (2 vol., 1969–70).

See also biographies by A. Henderson (3 vol., 1911–56), F. Harris (1931), H. Pearson (1942 and 1950), and M. Holroyd (4 vol. 1988–93, abr. ed. 1998); studies by E. R. Bentley (2d ed. 1967), L. Crompton (1969), M. M. Morgan (1972), M. Valency (1973), E. Bentley (1985), H. Bloom (1987), and S. Weintraub (1996); bibliography by D. H. Laurence (2 vol., 1983).

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SHAW, George Bernard

SHAW, George Bernard [1856–1950]. Irish dramatist and critic. Born in DUBLIN. Educated at Wesley Connexional School. He moved to London in 1876, where he wrote five novels that had little success, was a music, art, and drama critic, and an early member of the Fabian Society. He found the contemporary English theatre trivial and remote from serious issues, and admired the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen's treatment of social problems; his first play, Widowers' Houses (1893), was an indictment of the profits made by slum landlords. Shaw began a long career as a playwright, controversial about specific issues and challenging the basic assumptions of his contemporaries, which sometimes brought conflict with theatrical censorship. Although polemical, his plays established him as the leading dramatist of his time by their humour, lively dialogue, and strong characterization. Shaw believed that, in order to survive, the human race must become more rational and better organized. He developed a philosophy of Creative Evolution, requiring cooperation with the Life Force, and against the mechanistic theory of Darwin he urged the power of human choice. His ideas on this subject appear in Man and Superman (1903), which emphasizes his belief in the creative strength of women, and Back to Methuselah (1921). Other plays are Caesar and Cleopatra (1898, the film 1945), The Devil's Disciple (1905), Major Barbara (1905, the film 1941), Pygmalion (1913, the film 1938), Heartbreak House (1919), Saint Joan (1923, the film 1956), and The Apple Cart (1929).

Shaw and language

In Pygmalion, the phonetician Henry Higgins teaches a COCKNEY girl to speak with an upper-class accent and adopt some social graces, then introduces her to smart society. Despite dramatic exaggeration, the play makes the point that in the stratified society of England powerful judgements of worth and suitability attached to accent and usage. Shaw's knowledge of phonetics and views on literacy led him to demand a rational system of spelling which would follow the sounds of English and reduce time wasted by traditional orthography. Having campaigned for SPELLING REFORM, he left a bequest for the establishment of a suitable new alphabet reflecting ‘pronunciation to resemble that recorded of His Majesty our late King George V and sometimes described as Northern English’. A system was devised into which the play Androcles and the Lion (1912) was transcribed (published in 1962), but the project has had no further success.

Innovations

In his own work, Shaw adopted three innovations: (1) Some simplified spellings of the North American type, such as cigaret, program, vigor. (2) Omission of the APOSTROPHE in contractions, as in didnt. (3) Spacing between letters for emphasis (m u s t). He complained that dialect speech could not be shown in writing without a phonetic system, but none the less used non-standard spelling for the purpose, as in: ‘Aw knaow. Me an maw few shillins is not good enaff for you. Youre an earl's grandorter, you are. Nathink less than a anderd pahnd for you’ (from Major Barbara) [maw my, grandorter grand-daughter, nathink nothing, anderd pahnd hundred pounds]. Shaw was impatient of insistence on formal grammar and believed that a form of Pidgin English could become a world medium of communication.

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Shaw, George Bernard

Shaw, George Bernard (b Dublin, 1856; d Ayot St Lawrence, 1950). Irish playwright, essayist, and music critic. Wrote mus. criticism—arguably the most brilliant in the language—for London periodicals, the Star and the World, from 1888 to 1894 having earlier (from c.1876) ‘ghosted’ for music critic of The Hornet. Adopted pseudonym ‘Corno di Bassetto’, until 1890. Early champion of Wagner's mus. and one of first to put political interpretation on The Ring (in The Perfect Wagnerite, 1898). Criticisms reprinted in London Music 1888–9, Music in London 1890–94 (3 vols.), How to become a Musical Critic (ed. Laurence 1960), and Shaw's Music (ed. Laurence, 1981). Friend of Elgar, whose Severn Suite is ded. to Shaw. His play Arms and the Man was basis of operetta The Chocolate Soldier (Der tapfere Soldat, 1908) by O. Straus, and his Pygmalion became Loewe's musical My Fair Lady (1956). Composers of music for films based on Shaw plays incl. Honegger (Pygmalion, 1938), Walton (Major Barbara, 1941), Auric (Caesar and Cleopatra, 1945), and Richard Rodney Bennett (The Devil's Disciple, 1959).

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Shaw, George Bernard

Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950). Dramatist. Ambitious to write, Shaw left Dublin and his childhood's genteel poverty to join his mother and sisters in London (1876), where he spent hours voraciously in the British Museum's reading room and embraced socialism. His novels rejected, he eventually found steady work as literary, music (‘Corno di Bassetto’), and theatre critic. Now orator, polemicist, and force behind the Fabian Society, he began to write his own plays, influenced by Ibsen and trying to move the English stage away from affectations to a new gravitas: Widowers' Houses (1892), considering slum landlordism, and Mrs Warren's Profession, on organized prostitution, were radical, unromantic, and offensive to many. Prolific, passionate, and witty, he is now regarded as the most significant playwright of the 20th-cent. English-speaking world (Nobel prize for literature, 1925); St Joan (1924) is considered a masterpiece, but Pygmalion (1916) remains the most popular. Shaw's anti-war speeches (1914) drew much criticism, but he continued political writing into old age, outliving his time.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Shaw, George Bernard

Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950) Irish dramatist, critic, and member of the Fabian Society. Shaw transformed Victorian theatre, rejecting melodrama in favour of socially conscious drama. Although many of his plays were comedies, they expressed his often radical political and philosophical ideas. His first play was Widower's Houses (1892). Mrs Warren's Profession (1893) was considered immoral and banned from performance. Arms and the Man (1894) was Shaw's first publicly performed play. Other early plays include Candida (1897). Plays such as Man and Superman (1905) and Major Barbara (1905) were first performed at the Royal Court, London. Pygmalion (1913) was turned later into the musical My Fair Lady (1956). Other major plays include Heartbreak House (1920), Back to Methuselah (1922), and Saint Joan (1923). The prefaces to his plays were published separately. In 1925, Shaw received the Nobel Prize in literature.

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Shaw, Bernard 1940–

Bernard Shaw 1940

Television news anchor and reporter

At a Glance

Met Journalistic Idol

Hungry for International Experience

Chicken Noodle Network

From The Center of Hell

A Star Is Born

Sources

Television news anchor Bernard Shaws dispassionate manner, steady gaze, rich baritone voice, and crisply precise delivery virtually blend into the fabric of the news. In his twenty years as Cable News Networks (CNN) principal Washington anchor, he has taken a serious approach to journalism and has been widely regarded for his belief that the messenger should not get in the way of the message. Before joining CNN, Shaw worked for two of the three national television networks, CBS and ABC. In a career spanning three decades, he has covered some of modern historys most dramatic events: Watergate, the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide, the Nicaraguan Revolution, Chinas Tiananmen Square student massacre, and American involvement in the Persian Gulf War. Widely regarded as the nations most powerful black television journalist, Shaw, retired from CNN in 2001 in order to pursue his interest in writing.

Shaw grew up during the years of World War II, the emergence of television, and the days that begat the baby boom. His father was a house painter, his mother cleaned other peoples homes, and they lived on the South Side of Chicago. But far from being isolated in the wrong part of town and at the wrong end of the economic spectrum, the family brought the world into their home. In those days, Shaw told Parade Magazine, Chicago had four papers and we got all four every day. Even in his teens, Shaw had an obsessive interest in the news. My ritual on Sunday morning was to walk to a place called the Green Door bookstore near the University of Chicago, which was the closest place I could find the Sunday New York Times, Shaw told New York magazine. Fourteen years old, paper cradled in his arms, the boy would plant himself in a coffee shop and read the paper all the way through.

But Shaw was not merely a spectator. He made announcements on:he school public address system, participated in radio amateur hours, and, while some teenagers of the 1950s may have been totally absorbed in the birth of rock n roll, Shaw found time to dial up newspaper and broctdcast reporters and pepper them with questions about story preparation and deadline pressures. Even in his youth, Shaws tastes in television programming ran toward the news and information genre: he used to watch the television news program Meet the Press religiously, and his hero was legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow. At 16, he personally witnessed his second Democratic conventionhe had

At a Glance

Born May 22, 1940, in Chicago, IL; son of Edgar (a railroad man and house painter) and Camilia (a housekeeper) Shaw; married Linda Allston, 1973; children: Amar Edgar, Anil Louise. Education: University of Illinois, 1963-66. Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1959-63.

Career: Reporter, correspondent, and news anchor. WYNR/WNUS all-news radio, Chicago, IL, reporter and anchor, 1964-66; Westinghouse Broadcasting Companys Group W, Chicago, reporter, 1966-68, White House correspondent, 1968-71; Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS-TV), reporter for Washington bureau, 1971-74, correspondent, 1974-77; American Broadcasting Companies (ABC-TV), Miami bureau chief and Latin American correspondent, 1977-79, senior Capitol Hill correspondent; Cable News Network (CNN), Washington D.C., news anchor, 1980-2001.

Member: Society of Professional Journalists (fellow); National Press Club; Sigma Delta Chi.

Awards: international Platform Association, Lowell Thomas Electronic Journalist Award, 1988; National Academy of Cable Programming, Award for Cable Excellence, 1988; Emmy Award, 1989; 32nd annual International Film and TV Festival of New York, gold medal, 1989; National Association of Black Journalists, annual award, 1989; George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award, 1990; ACE Award, 1990; Bernard Shaw Endowment Fund created by University of Illinois, 1991; Eduard Rhein Foundation, Cultural-H/Journalistic Award, 1991.

Addresses: Office CNN 820 1st St. NE, Washington D.C. 20002-4243 (202)898-7900.

managed to engineer his way into both the 1952 and 1956 conventions. Shaw told Time: When I looked up at the anchor booths, I knew I was looking at the altar.

Met Journalistic Idol

On the road to the altar, Shaw wangled another opportunity to speak to a journalist about his craft. It was 1961, the beginning of an era of political tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Union. Shaw was a 21-year-old corporal in the Marines stationed in Hawaii at the time, and Walter Cronkite, his other hero, was passing through. With the tenacity of youthor perhaps that of a budding reporterthe corporal rang Cronkites room a total of 34 times. He was the most persistent guy Ive ever met in my life, Cronkite said in the Washington Post, I was going to give him five begrudging minutes and ended up talking to him for a half hour. He was just determined to be a journalist. The two have been friends ever since.

In 1963, with four years of the marines behind him, and a new sense of maturity, Shaw entered the University of Illinois, choosing history as his major. His career in journalism officially began just a year later when he joined Chicagos WNUS, one of the nations first all-news radio stations. He worked there as a reporter and anchor until 1966 when Westinghouse Broadcasting Companys Group W offered him a job. He quit school, relocated to Washington, D.C, and, at 28, became a White House correspondent. In the five years with Westinghouse Shaws assignments included local and national urban affairs, and the struggles of Hispanics and Native Americans.

In 1971, Walter Cronkite helped Shaw land a job with CBS. Shaw started as a reporter for the CBS News Washington bureau and in three years became a correspondent. It was during this period that his career got a boost: he conducted an exclusive interview with then-attorney general John Mitchell. It was the height of the Watergate crisis and Mitchell, who was to be convicted for his role in the affair, was a major figure in the scandal. White House correspondent Shaw had pulled off a journalistic coup.

Hungry for International Experience

After nearly ten years of reporting from Capitol Hill, Shaw was restless. He was hungry for international experience. When ABC offered him the job of Miami bureau chief and Latin American correspondent, an impressive but less visible position, he grabbed it. I pushed myself out the door, Shaw told the New York Times.The three years he spent with ABC proved especially eventful.

Back at the bureau Shaw told a colleague that he felt very lucky to have gotten the Jonestown story, adding, as quoted in the Washington Post, You always have luck when you hustle. And, as if to confirm this philosophy, ABC chose Shaw to file special reports during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis at the American embassy in Teheran. That led to Shaws return to Washington as ABCs senior Capitol Hill correspondent.

1979 was a tumultuous year for personnel at ABC News. As a result, Shaws colleague, Washington bureau chief George Watson, left to help start CNN, a 24-hour, all-news cable network. Watson urged Shaw to follow him as the new networks principal anchor. I had been negotiating a new contract with ABC, but I was dissatisfied with the terms, so I started talking to [maverick broadcasting entrepreneur and CNN founder] Ted Turner, Shaw told New York magazine. The time period in which I was trying to decide, it seemed like agony to me. Id only been married three years and our children were very small, and I couldnt selfishly take that gamble by myself. His worries were compounded by an economy in recession with double digit inflation. Its no exaggeration, Shaw added, I walked around the dining room for two weeks, talking to myself. My wife, Linda, would wake up around one in the morning and come downstairs. So, finally we just sat down at the dining room table and she said, Okay, you should take the job, because if you dont and CNN takes off, I wont be able to live with you. Network bosses told Shaw it would ruin his career, but he disagreed. I saw it as perhaps the last frontier on television, he told the New York Times. The first all-news TV network seemed like revolutionary stuff to me.

Chicken Noodle Network

For three decades the rule of the Big Three had never been seriously challenged and, while they smugly claimed that no one else could pull together the resources to compete, Turner was telling Business Week, The Turner broadcasting group is going to be the greatest business success story of all time.

The so-called Chicken Noodle Network began broadcasting from its Atlanta headquarters on June 1, 1980. Using new satellite technology for live transmission, CNNs staff of three hundred fresh faces drew on ceaseless energy to get the news out as it was happening, at any hour of the day or night. The cable networks viewership rose and its presence began to be felt. But it wasnt until 1987 that it achieved a contenders rank. That status seemed to become official when Shaws became the fourth chairjoining those of CBS, NBC, and ABCin a nationally televised interview with then U.S. president Ronald Reagan, held in the Oval Office on the eve of the summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. That event served to introduce CNN and Shaw to millions of non-cable viewers. Another nationally televised event only a few months later ingrained Shaws face and style into viewers minds. But not all liked what they saw.

In April of 1988 Shaw moderated the second presidential debate from Los Angeles. In his role, he seemed rough with the debate audience, warning them that he would tell them to keep quiet only once. And, in general, he was his usual serious self. But it was his opening questions to the two candidates that caused a stir. George Bush was asked if he would be worried about the country under President Dan Quayles leadership in the event Bush died before inauguration. Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was asked if he would still be against the death penalty if someone raped and murdered his wife Kitty Dukakis. Ive heard the questions called ghoulish and tasteless, Shaw told the Washington Post, I spent more than a day and a half working on those two questions. They were not asked with trivia in mind. Its difficult to accuse Shaw of being trivial. I hope I didnt seem severe, he added, 1 took the job seriously.

The next couple of years drew Shaw into international news. He covered the 1988 Reagan-Gorbachev Moscow Summit; Presicent Bushs first visit to Eastern Europe, and his participation in the 1989 Economic Summit in Paris; Japanese Emperor Hirohitos funeral; and the 40th-anniversary North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Brussels. In May of 1989, Shaw received his biggest story yet: he provided 30 hours of continuous live coverage, worldwide, on the historic student demonstrations in Beijing, China. He was one of only two American anchors in Tiananmen Square when the Chinese governments tanks rolled in and crushed the pro-democracy movement.

From The Center of Hell

Although Shaw initially expressed doubts about the probability of war between the United States and Iraq, four months later he admitted in Gentlemens Quarterly that this had been a prediction grounded in hope. In January of 1991, he was in Baghdad to interview Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein when history took a turn. On the 16th, just one day after the aborted interview, Shaw found himself strandedalong with CNN colleagues, Peter Arnett and John Hollimanin the enemy capital as the allied bombing attack launched the Gulf War. Shaw was one of the first reporters to announce to the world that the United States and its allies had gone to war, and CNN went on to provide continuous coverage for the conflicts duration. Even after even; major newspaper had pulled out, after the Big Threes phone lines were cut, and after CNN lost its picture transmission, the network was able to make live reports rrorn Baghdad via its secure phone line.

While the night sky was screaming with gunfire and air-raid warnings, the CNN trio crawled around the floor of their hotel room and delivered some of the most spellbinding audio reporting since Edward R. Murrows harrowing World War II accounts of the Nazi bombing of London. By the time we stopped broadcasting to get some sleep, Shaw toldParade Magazine, I was so tired I was making no sense whatsoever. I was no sooner in bed and asleep when the bombing started again, and 1 stumbled down the hall in my pajamas to the suite where we broadcast and went back to work. The experience unnerved the characteristi cally composed anchor. He announced: Clearly Ive never been there, but it feels like we are in the center of hell.

CNNs coverage was being cited by top Pentagon officials at press conferences while being eagerly viewed by Iraqi officials. CBS and NBC humbled themselves by asking the cable networks reporters for interviews. Television coverage of the war belonged to CNN because it provided an uninterrupted flow of raw information. This process empowered the public: the viewer became the news editor. Weve been training for this story 24 hours a day for ten years, CNNs executive vice-president Ed Turner (no relation to Ted Turner) told the Chicago Tribune.Live wartime coverage from the center of enemy camp is unprecedented.

A Star Is Born

Bernie Shaw came back to the U.S. a star. But the kudos and popular attention seemed unprofessional and embarrassing to him. He was happy to be reunited with his family and had more private thoughts on his mind. I came back from Baghdad a changed man, he told theLos Angeles Times. I looked death in the eyes. No human gets many chances to do that twice.

The journey from the South Side of Chicago to Baghdad was a long one, but Shaw never wavered, and that could have been easy in the beginning. The 1950s had no black Murrows as role models for a poor, young black boy with dreams of broadcast journalism. But I didnt see Ed Murrow as white, Shaw told the New York Times, I saw him as a journalist. Shaw knew that it was certainly possible that hed encounter racism along the way, but he has said that he has never been a knowing victim of it in his career.

Although he has never experienced racism in his career, Shaw raised the issue of racial profiling at the vice-presidential debate. As moderator of the second presidential debate in 1988, Shaw had asked the candidates to imagine a situation and then explain how they would respond. Using this same tactic, Shaw asked vice-presidential hopefuls Joseph Lieberman and Dick Cheney to imagine themselves as victims of racial profiling. Whereas in 1988, Shaw was criticized for asking Michael Dukakis if he would reverse his position on the death penalty if his own wife was a victim of a brutal crime, in 2000 Shaw managed to bring an issue that, only a few years before very few had even heard of, into the national consciousness.

As CNNs top anchor, Shaw stood at the helm of televisions news phenomenon: a 24-hour, all-news cable network. In his twenty years at CNN, he saw the network evolve from a long-shot endeavor known as the Chicken Noodle Network to become the top-ranked televison news network. But, in November of 2000, Shaw announced to viewers that he was resigning from CNN, saying that, while he hoped to return for the occasional special assignment, he wanted to spend more time with his family. He also planned to focus much of his time on writing fiction, essays, and a primer on journalism. He decided his first writing project, however, would be his autobiography, for, as he told Broadcasting & Cable, If I dont do it now, Ill never get it done.

In many ways, Shaws departure heralded the end of an era at CNN. A rogue network no longer, talks for an AOL-Time Warner merger began. With a new management team on board, the network also launched plans to experiment with new types of programming. With his final newscast on February 28, 2001, Shaw left the anchor seat he had worked so hard to earn. He told Jet, Harder than entering this business is leaving it.

Sources

Periodicals

Business Week, June 1980.

Business Wire, February 12, 2001.

Chicago Tribune, January 20, 1991.

Essence, November 1990.

Gentlemens Quarterly, May 1991.

Jet, November 27, 2000.

Los Angeles Times, April 11, 1991.

National Review, February 19, 2001.

New York, February 1991.

New York Times, February 2, 1988; March 20, 1988.

Parade Magazine, June 23, 1991.

Si.Louis Dispatch, March 2, 2001.

Time, February 22, 1988.

Variety, November 13, 2000.

Washington Post, June 22, 1991.

Iva Sipal and Jennifer M. York

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Shaw, George Bernard

George Bernard Shaw

BORN: 1856, Dublin, Ireland

DIED: 1950, Ayot St. Lawrence, England

NATIONALITY: British

GENRE: Drama, fiction, nonfiction

MAJOR WORKS:
Mrs. Warren's Profession (1893)
Man and Superman (1901–1902)
The Doctor's Dilemma (1906)
Pygmalion (1912)
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism (1928)

Overview

The British playwright, critic, and pamphleteer George Bernard Shaw produced more than fifty-two plays, three volumes of music and drama criticism, and one major volume of socialist commentary. Shaw is generally

considered the greatest dramatist to write in the English language since William Shakespeare. Following the example of Henrik Ibsen, he succeeded in revolutionizing the English stage, disposing of the romantic conventions and devices of the “well-made” play, and instituting a theater of ideas grounded in realism. During his lifetime, he was equally famous as an iconoclastic and outspoken public figure. Essentially a shy man, Shaw created the public persona of G. B. S.: showman, satirist, pundit, and intellectual jester, who challenged established political and social beliefs.

Works in Biographical and Historical Context

A Young Socialist Born in Dublin, Ireland, on July 16, 1856, George Bernard Shaw was largely an academic failure in school. Part of his nonacademic training was handled by his mother, a music teacher, and Shaw grew up with an excellent ear and good musical taste. After school, he sought to make something of himself in business, but, in March 1876, gave up on this career and joined his mother and two sisters in London, where they conducted a music school. Shaw spent the next nine years supported by his parents, reading constantly and widely, writing music and drama reviews for newspapers, and occasionally singing for hire at London society parties.

During this time Shaw also wrote five novels, some of them reflecting the socialist politics that he had become committed to in London. Immaturity, the first, remained unpublished, and the other four, after a series of rejections from London publishers, appeared in radical periodicals. At the age of twenty-eight, Shaw joined the socialist Fabian Society, and he served on the executive committee for the next twenty-seven years. The Fabian Society was a socialist movement comprised largely of British intellectuals and had the aim of bringing about a socialist state by degrees rather than by revolution, as was advocated by contemporaries such as Russians Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin (the architects of the Russian Revolution of 1917). Fabian Essays (1887), edited by Shaw, emphasized the importance of economics and class structure; for him, economics was “the basis of society.” Shaw's politics also inform Common Sense About the War (1914), a criticism of the British government and its policies during the early part of World War I. The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism (1928), which came much later, supplied a complete summary of his political position and remains a major volume of socialist commentary to this day.

True-to-Life Drama and Prodigious Productivity Shaw wrote drama between 1892 and 1947, when he completed Buoyant Billions at the age of ninety-one. In 1893, preoccupied by the current issues of women's rights centered on the suffrage movement (granting women the right to vote), Shaw wrote The Philanderers. He also wrote in 1893 his most famous play, Mrs Warren's Profession, which was not produced until 1902 because of British censorship. It remains a powerful play in the history of literature about the rights of women. Shaw's dramas are opposed to the mechanical comic plots of conventional dramas and also against the nineteenth-century tendency to idealize Shakespeare and drama in general. Like the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, whom he helped to promote in England, Shaw preferred a more true-to-life drama that substituted realism and political engagement for sentimentality and nostalgia.

Starting in 1901, Shaw's political and literary theories propelled him into a remarkable period of productivity. Man and Superman (1901–1903) and Major Barbara (1905) are both “dramas of ideas,” posing challenging questions about poverty and capitalism. Androcles and the Lion (1911) takes on religion, John Bull's Other Island (1904) deals with the political relations between England and Ireland, and Heartbreak House (1913–1916) analyzes the domestic effects of World War I. Sometimes Shaw's plays carry long prefaces that are not directly related to the drama itself, exploring such topics as marriage, parenthood, education, and poverty; these essays form an important part of his ouevre. It was for his drama in particular, though, that Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925.

Written during a timespan that included both World Wars (1914–1918 and 1939–1945) and began the separation of the world into a communist East and a capitalist West, Shaw's plays express a complex range of impulses, ambitions, and beliefs. Reflecting on his life and his work, he explained at seventy:

Whether it be that I was born mad or a little too sane, my kingdom was not of this world: I was at home only in the realm of my imagination, and at ease only with the mighty dead. Therefore I had to become an actor, and create for myself a fantastic personality fit and apt for dealing with men, and adaptable to the various parts I had to play as an author, journalist, orator, politician, committee man, man of the world, and so forth. In all this I succeeded later on only too well.

Shaw's death in 1950 in England was a loss not only for literature, but also for the working class for which he had done battle over so many years.

Works in Literary Context

Shaw was in many ways the product of Victorian England, although in other ways he helped to make the transition away from its literature into that of Modernism. The Victorian period, named for the long-reigning Queen Victoria (1837–1901), was a time of great literary creativity that resists easy categorization. Nevertheless, the parts of it that influenced Shaw were its tendencies toward realism, its confident championing of self-reliance and inner strength, its moral earnestness, its advocacy of charity and social reform, and its patriotic British nationalism. The authors who perhaps best embody all of these things would be the novelist Charles Dickens, the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and the critic Matthew Arnold.

Naturalist Ideals Shaw took from Victorianism its moral earnestness and commitment to social reform, but he left behind its nationalism and its confidence that core British values would steer a sure path to a brighter future at home and around the world. Shaw felt that the Victorian version of “realism” was too idealized—it turned a blind eye to controversial issues, it glorified heroes for the wrong things, and it packaged life too neatly into “well-made” stories with predictable structures and sentimental conclusions. Shaw is more in line with the “naturalism” movement which began in late nineteenth-century France, culminating in the novels of Guy de Maupassant (1850–1893) and Émile Zola (1840–1902) and aiming to represent a “slice of life” marked by a detached, objective description of society with careful accuracy of detail and historical background. People who had been neglected in earlier literature, such as housewives, the poor, or criminals, were given priority. Whereas naturalist writers often showed individual freewill to be ineffective against the powerful forces of history, society, or biology, however, Shaw strongly believed that creative adaptability, powered by the strength of human willpower, is the “life force” that ensures our evolution as a species.

Evolution The idea of “evolution” was highly charged in Shaw's day. Charles Darwin had published The Origin of Species in 1859, detailing the evidence for his conclusion that species (including man) evolved from lower-order animals through a process of natural selection and random mutations. The idea that God might not be the sole guiding hand in creation, especially the creation of mankind, scandalized the nineteenth century and still reverberates today. Shaw was an early supporter of Darwinian evolution, applying the ideas to socialism, women's rights, and other reformist political ideas. Literature and other arts, he strongly felt, could play a part in mankind's evolution to a higher state.

Socialist Ideals The other figure that scandalized the late nineteenth century, and whose influence also reverberates today, was Karl Marx (1818–1883). Marx was German, but he developed his socialist theory after observing the lives of factory workers in the north of England. Marx wrote that economics is the engine of history, and the unfairness of a capitalist society—where business owners are motivated to pay workers as little as possible, and workers do not own the products of their own labor—can only be changed by revolution. Marx's ideas were quickly assimilated into literature and literary criticism, and Shaw consistently applied socialist ideas in his plays, prefaces, and essays. Shaw's socialism shared with Marxism its commitment to social change via economics but remained committed to political reforms within the system and not by revolution from outside it.

That said, Shaw did not shy away from celebrating the effects of revolution. After a visit to the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in the 1930s, when he met long-time Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, he returned to England convinced that the Soviet Union was leading the world to a brighter future. This conviction, held by many leftist artists and intellectuals of the time—most of whom saw the Soviet experiment as a truly socialist project, rather than the façade for authoritarianism that it ultimately became—was unshaken by evidence of Stalin's “pogroms,” or slaughter of countless of his own citizens in order to achieve “state security.”

LITERARY AND HISTORICAL CONTEMPORARIES

Shaw's famous contemporaries include:

Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906): Norway's most famous playwright helped to establish, along with Shaw, an entirely new way of approaching drama. Gone was the “well-made play” with an orderly plot and conventional moral; in its place were highly symbolic, character-driven plays that dealt with controversial issues and current events.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900): Perhaps the most influential philosopher of the late twentieth century, German philosopher Nietzsche rejected anything irrational and supernatural, including religion, saying that it leads us away from coping with the realities of earthly life.

Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945): A Chicago novelist who was a leader in American naturalism, a movement that tried to study characters in fiction in the same objective way scientists study their subjects.

Gustave Klimt (1862–1918): An Austrian painter involved in the art nouveau movement, creating decorative murals, paintings, and posters with naturalistic figures appearing within elaborately ornamented backgrounds.

Fritz Lang (1890–1976): An innovative filmmaker born in Austria but who worked in the United States, successfully making the transition from silent to sound motion pictures. His expressive films often deal with the psychology of crime and death, and they set a high standard for the emotional depth and artistic potential for early cinema.

From Ibsen to the Postmodern Stage The playwright who had the most influence on Shaw was the Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen, who wrote realistic and intellectual dramas about pressing social issues that had never before been discussed on the stage. Shaw details his debt to Ibsen, in the context of Shaw's own socialism, in The Quintessence of Ibsenism (1891, rev. 1913).

Immediately after Shaw's time, his influence on drama was eclipsed by the more symbolic, avant-garde, and impressionistic (although no less politically challenging) work of Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) and Samuel Beckett (1906–1989). In recent years, however, “post-modern” British and American stages have seen a great deal of “Shavian” drama, which are plays that contain intellectual discussion, are based more upon character than plot, and engage the audience with important social issues. It is easy to imagine Shaw applauding heartily for two of the most ambitious and important plays in the last several decades, Tony Kushner's two-part “Angels in America” (dealing with AIDS) and Tom Stoppard's trilogy “The Coast of Utopia” (dealing with the Russian Revolution).

Works in Critical Context

It has been easy for critics to point out that despite his allegiance to realism, Shaw's characters sometimes seem more like intellectual concepts rather than real people, especially when compared to the characters in Ibsen or August Strindberg (1849–1912). Other critics locate this as one of Shaw's strengths: that ideas come alive at the center of his dramas.

Saint Joan Shaw's early plays were very popular, but when he began questioning England's participation in World War I, he was suspected of being a German sympathizer and his support quickly evaporated. Shaw kept writing about the war, however, and as World War II was starting he only increased his attacks on capitalist democracy and was again suspected of aiding the enemy. His reputation benefited from Saint Joan in 1923, a play about the martyr Joan of Arc that suggested criticism of England's cruel treatment of Ireland, propelling him toward the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925.

Pygmalion After the wars, Shaw's criticisms began to seem more like prophesies, and his critical standing and popularity improved. The huge success of My Fair Lady, a musical adaptation of Shaw's play Pygmalion, also helped to renew affection for Shaw's work. Some critics denounced Shaw's plays for their preachiness and unsym-pathetic characters, while others applauded his efforts to raise the tone of British drama, while his depiction of independent women characters found an attentive audience with feminist critics starting in the 1960s. Contemporary observer Sunder Katwala describes Shaw as “a persistent pioneer of both feminism and racial equality,” and notes, “Shaw's genius cannot be doubted. Nor his astonishing range, from his major contribution to music criticism to his being the only Nobel laureate to also bag an Oscar.”

COMMON HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Shaw wrote often about women's rights, most famously in his play Mrs Warren's Profession (1893). Influenced by Ibsen's A Doll's House (1879) and Hedda Gabler (1890), Shaw demonstrated how the few options available for women to lead a life of culture and refinement come at a very high cost. He also rebelled against the trend in nineteenth-century dramas and novels that emphasized plot over character. His dramas were sometimes criticized for being too “talky,” finding their dramatic tension not so much in story or romance as in debate and discussion of important ideas. Here are some other works that focus on ideas and on female independence:

My Fair Lady (1956), a novel by Alan Jay Lerner and musical by Frederick Loewe. This enormously popular stage musical, made into an equally popular movie in 1964, set the record for the longest theatrical run in history up to its time. Based upon Shaw's play Pygmalion (1913), the cultured professor Henry Higgins takes on the lower-class flower girl Eliza Doolittle as an experiment in linguistics—he teaches her how to speak with a proper British accent, and she learns how to become, not just imitate, a proper lady.

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), a novel by Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston was a leader in the Harlem Renaissance, an explosion of artistic creativity in the African American community during the 1920s–1930s. This realistic novel shows the struggles of a poor black woman in the south as she gains, loses, and regains a life of love, fulfillment, respect, and freedom.

Travesties (1974), a play by Tom Stoppard. Here, Stoppard imagines what would happen if the intellectual dynamos of 1917 were to all be in the same room together talking about whatever passed through their iconoclastic minds: Vladimir Lenin (Russian leader), James Joyce (novelist), and Tristan Tzara (Dada artist). Weaving through the sparkling dialog and some zany plot twists borrowed from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Stoppard addresses important questions about the function of politics in art and the role of the artist in society.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (c. 1601), a play by William Shakespeare. While certainly not sacrificing anything in terms of plot and action, this single most influential play in the history of theater was the first to make extensive and integral use of the “dramatic monologue,” or speech made directly to the audience that reflects a character's inner thoughts. Through the use of this technique, Shakespeare made Hamlet the first play primarily about thinking as such.

Shaw is now seen as one of the most significant British dramatists of the modern era, and at least until the 1970s with the rise of Tom Stoppard, he is often recognized as the greatest British dramatist since Shakespeare. Perhaps, though, he is most important for the example he sets of what it can mean to “speak truth to power.” Biographer and commentator Michael Holroyd remarks on the particular need we have for Shaw in a world obsessed with fear, writing, “In such a climate of terrified legislation, we have need of Bernard Shaw—need of his stimulating incorrectitudes, need of his ability to show where dishonour truly lies and of his power to ridicule such absurdities out of court.”

Responses to Literature

  1. Is a “drama of ideas” a contradiction in terms? What assumptions are you making about each term as you come up with your answer?
  2. Situate Shaw's artistic achievement with respect to the other great dramatists of the twentieth century. In what ways did his work contribute to and/or work against the Modernist asthetic that developed in literature during his heyday?
  3. Some of the films and television series that have received the most critical praise over the last decade have been ones that address controversial topics and give a human dimension to some of the urgent political and social issues of today. Do you think that Shaw's strongest legacy today may not be in the theater at all, but in film and television? How have the issues changed from Shaw's day to ours?
  4. Read one of the plays, such as Mrs Warren's Profession, to which Shaw added a long preface discussing problems he wanted to see reformed. What do you think of this practice? Are the prefaces unnecessary distractions, or do you find that they help to set up interpretations of the play that you may not have had otherwise?

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

Bentley, Eric. Shaw on Music. New York: ApplauseBooks, 1995.

Evans, T. F. Shaw: The Critical Heritage. Boston, Mass.: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976.

Henderson, Archibald. Bernard Shaw: Playboy andProphet. New York: Appleton, 1932.

Holroyd, Michael. Bernard Shaw: The One-Volume Definitive Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005.

Innes, Christopher, ed. The Cambridge Companion to George Bernard Shaw. Cambridge, U. K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Meisel, Martin. Shaw and the Nineteenth-CenturyTheater. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1963.

Ohmann, Richard M. Shaw: The Style and the Man. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1962.

Strauss, Erich. Bernard Shaw: Art and Socialism. London: Victor Gollancz, 1942.

Weintraub, Stanley. Journey to Heartbreak: The Crucible Years of Bernard Shaw, 1914–1918. New York: Weybright & Talley, 1971.

Periodicals

Albert, Sidney P. “Bernard Shaw: The Artist asPhilosopher.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 14 (1956): 419–38.

Holroyd, Michael. “Send for Shaw, not Shakespeare.”Times Literary Supplement July 19, 2006.

Katwala, Sunder. “Artist of the Impossible.” (UK)Guardian July 26, 2006.

Web sites

The Shaw Society. Retrieved March 16, 2008, from http://www.shawsociety.org.uk

Holroyd, Michael. “Send for Shaw, Not Shakespeare.” Times Literary Supplement: July 19, 2006. Retrieved March 16, 2008, from http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25338-2277082,00.html

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Shaw, George Bernard

George Bernard Shaw

Personal

Born July 26, 1856, in Dublin, Ireland; died November 2, 1950, in Ayot Saint Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England; son of George Carr (an agricultural merchant) and Lucinda Elizabeth (a singer, musician, and music teacher; maiden name, Gurly) Shaw; married Charlotte Francis Payne-Townshend, 1898 (died, September, 1943). Education: Attended Wesleyan Connexional School (now Wesleyan College), 1867-68, Central Model Boys' School, 1868, and English Scientific and Commercial Day School, 1869.


Career

Playwright, novelist, essayist, critic, and lecturer. Cashier for land agent in Dublin, Ireland, 1871-76; writer and commercial laborer, c. 1876-85; public speaker and lecturer, beginning 1883; cofounder of Fabian Society, London, England, 1884; cofounder, with Sidney and Beatrice Webb, of London School of Economics, 1895; vestryman and borough councilor in London, 1897-1903.


Member

Society of Authors, Playwrights, and Composers, Fabian Society (member of executive committee, 1885-1911), British Interplanetary Society, Royal Automobile Club, Burlington Fine Arts Club.




Awards, Honors

Nobel Prize for literature, 1925, for Saint Joan; Irish Academy of Letters Medal, 1934; Academy Award for best screenplay, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1938, for Pygmalion.




Writings

PLAYS; UNDER NAME BERNARD SHAW, EXCEPT AS NOTED

Widowers' Houses (produced in London, England, at the Royalty Theatre, 1892), Henry (London, England), 1893, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913.

The Man of Destiny produced in Croydon, England, at the Grand Theatre, 1897, produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1907.

The Devil's Disciple (produced in Albany, NY, at Hermanus Bleecker Hall, 1897, produced in London, England, at the Savoy Theatre, 1907), Constable (London, England), 1906, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913, with an introduction and notes by A. C. Ward, Longman (London, England), 1958, with illustrations by Leonard Everett Fisher, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1967.

The Gadfly; or, The Son of the Cardinal, produced in Bayswater, England, at the Bijou Theatre, 1898.

You Never Can Tell (produced in London, England, at the Royalty Theatre, 1899), Constable (London, England), 1906, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913, with introduction by Margery M. Morgan, Hicks Smith (Sydney, Australia), 1967.

Captain Brassbound's Conversion (produced in London, England, at the Strand Theatre, 1900), Constable (London, England), 1906, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913.

(Under name George Bernard Shaw) The Admirable Bashville; or, Constancy Unrewarded (based on Shaw's novel Cashel Byron's Profession; produced in London, England, at the Imperial Theatre, 1903), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1909.

How He Lied to Her Husband, produced in New York, NY, at the Berkeley Lyceum Theatre, 1904, produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1905.

Passion, Poison, and Petrifaction; or, The Fatal Gazogene (produced in London, England, at the Theatrical Garden Party, Regent's Park, 1905), H. B. Claflin (New York, NY), 1905.

Man and Superman (produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1905; revised version, including Don Juan in Hell [also see below], produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the Lyceum Theatre, 1915; revised version produced in London at the Regent Theatre, 1925), Constable (London, England), 1903, with introduction and notes by A. C. Ward, Longman (London, England), 1947, with introduction by Lewis Casson, illustrated by Charles Mozley, Heritage Press (New York, NY), 1962.

The Doctor's Dilemma (produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1906), Constable (London, England), 1908, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1911, revised with new preface, 1913, Dodd (New York, NY), 1941, with an introduction and notes by A. C. Ward, Longman (London, England), 1957.

The Interlude at the Playhouse, produced in London, England, at the Playhouse Theatre, 1907.

Don Juan in Hell (from Man and Superman), produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1907.

The Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet (produced in Dublin, Ireland, at the Abbey Theatre, 1909, produced in London, England, at the Everyman Theatre, 1921), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1909.

Press Cuttings (produced in Manchester, England, at the Gaiety Theatre, 1909), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1909.

Misalliance, produced in London, England, at the Duke of York's Theatre, 1910.

The Dark Lady of the Sonnets, produced in London, England, at the Haymarket Theatre, 1910.

Fanny's First Play, produced in London, England, at the Little Theatre, 1911.

Arms and the Man (produced in London, England, at the Avenue Theatre, 1894), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913, with introduction by A. C. Ward, Longman (London, England), 1956, with introduction by Louis Kronenberger, Bantam (New York, NY), 1960, with introduction and notes by Louis Crompton, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1969, definitive text edition, Penguin (New York, NY), 1977.

Candida (produced in Aberdeen, Scotland, at Her Majesty's Theatre, 1897, produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1904), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913, with an introduction and notes by A. C. Ward, Longman (London, England), 1956.

Mrs. Warren's Profession (also see below; produced in London, England, at the New Lyric Club, 1902), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913.

John Bull's Other Island (produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1904), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913.

The Philanderer (produced in London, England, at the New Stage Club, Applegate Institute, 1905, produced in London at the Royal Court Theatre, 1907), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913.

Major Barbara (produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1905), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913, Dodd (New York, NY), 1941, with introduction and notes by A. C. Ward, Longman (London, England), 1958, revised edition edited by Elizabeth T. Forter, Appleton-Century-Crofts (New York, NY), 1971.

Caesar and Cleopatra (produced in Berlin, Germany, then in New York, NY, at the New Amsterdam Theatre, 1906; produced in London, England, at the Savoy Theatre, 1907), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913, revised edition edited by Elizabeth T. Forter, Appleton-Century-Crofts (New York, NY), 1965.

Great Catherine, produced in London, England, at Vaudeville Theatres, 1913.

Getting Married, (produced in London, England, at the Haymarket Theatre, 1908), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913, reprinted, Players Press (Studio City, CA), 1995.

Pygmalion (also see below; produced in Siegfried Trebitsch's German translation in Vienna, Austria, at the Hofburg Theatre, 1913; produced in English in London, England, at His Majesty's Theatre, 1914), 1920, with an introduction by A. C. Ward, Longman (London, England), 1957, definitive text edition, illustrated by Feliks Topolski, Penguin (New York, NY), 1982.

The Music-Cure, produced in London, England, at the Little Theatre, 1914.

Overruled (produced in London, England, at the Duke of York's Theatre, 1912), Constable (London, England), 1915.

The Inca of Perusalem, produced in Birmingham, England, at the Repertory Theatre, 1916, produced in London, England, at the Criterion Theatre, 1917.

Augustus Does His Bit, produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1917.

Annajanska, the Wild Grand Duchess, produced in London, England, at the London Coliseum, 1918.

O'Flaherty, V. C., produced in New York, NY, at the 39th Street Theatre, then in London, England, at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, 1920.

Back to Methuselah (produced in New York, NY, at the Garrick Theatre, 1922; produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1924), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1921, revised edition with a postscript, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1946, definitive text edition, Penguin (New York, NY), 1977, published as Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch, Penguin (New York, NY), 1988.

Jitta's Atonement (adapted from Siegfried Trebitsch's Frau Gittas Suehne), produced in Washington, DC, at the Shubert Theatre, then in New York, NY, at the Comedy Theatre, 1923, produced in London, England, at the Arts Theatre, 1930.

Saint Joan (produced in New York, NY, at the Garrick Theatre, 1923, produced in London, England, at the New Theatre, 1924), Brentano's (New York, NY), 1923, revised edition edited and with an introduction and notes by Stanley Weintraub, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1971.

The Glimpse of Reality, produced in London, England, at the Arts Theatre Club, 1927.

The Fascinating Foundling, produced in London, England, at the Arts Theatre Club, 1928.

The Apple Cart (produced in Warsaw, Poland, at the Teatr Polski, 1929, then in London, England, at the Queen's Theatre, 1929), Constable (London, England), 1930, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1931.

Too True to Be Good, produced in Boston, MA, at the National Theatre, then in New York, NY, at the Guild Theatre, 1932.

On the Rocks, produced in London, England, at the Winter Garden Theatre, 1933.

Village Wooing, produced in Dallas, TX, at the Little Theatre, 1934.

(With Jean Froissart and Auguste Rodin) The Six of Calais (produced in London, England, at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, 1934), privately printed, 1934.

The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, produced in New York, NY, at the Guild Theatre, 1935.

The Millionairess, produced in Vienna, Austria, at the Akademie Theatre, then in Melbourne, Australia, at the King's Theatre, 1936.

Cymbeline Refinished (produced in London, England, at the Embassy Theatre, Swiss Cottage, 1937), privately printed, 1937.

Geneva (produced in Malvern, England, at the Festival Theatre, then in London, England, at the Saville Theatre, 1938), Constable (London, England), 1939.

"In Good King Charles's Golden Days" (produced in Malvern, England, 1939; produced in London, England, at the Streatham Hill Theatre, 1940), illustrated by Feliks Topolski, Constable (London, England), 1939.

Buoyant Billions (produced in Zurich, Switzerland, at the Schauspielhaus, 1948; produced in Malvern, England, at the Festival Theatre, 1949), Constable (London, England), 1949.

Shakes versus Shav (puppet play), produced in Malvern, England, at the Waldo Lanchester Marionette Theatre, Lyttleton Hall, 1949, produced in London, England, 1951.

Farfetched Fables, produced in London, England, at the Watergate Theatre, 1950.

Androcles and the Lion (produced in Berlin, Germany, at Kleines Theatre, 1912; produced in London, England, at St. James's Theatre, September 1, 1913), Penguin (New York, NY), 1951, with an introduction and notes by A. C. Ward, Longman (London, England), 1957.

Why She Would Not, produced in New York, NY, by the Shaw Society of America at the Grolier Club, 1957.

Heartbreak House (produced in New York, NY, at the Garrick Theatre, 1920, produced in London, England, at the Royal Court Theatre, 1921), Penguin (New York, NY), 1964, published as Heartbreak House: A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes, Signet (New York, NY), 1996.



SCREENPLAYS

(With others) Pygmalion (based on his play; produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1938), Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1994.

(With Anatole de Grunwald) Major Barbara (based on his play), United Artists, 1941.

(With Marjorie Deans and W. P. Lipscomb) Caesar and Cleopatra (based on his play), Eagle-Lion, 1946.

LETTERS, CONVERSATIONS, AND DIARIES; UNDER NAME BERNARD SHAW , EXCEPT AS NOTED

Table-Talk of G. B. S.: Conversations on Things in General between George Bernard Shaw and His Biographer, compiled and edited by Archibald Henderson, Harper (New York, NY), 1925.

Ellen Terry and Bernard Shaw: A Correspondence, edited by Christopher St. John, Putnam (New York, NY), 1931, with illustrations, Theatre Arts Books (New York, NY), 1969.

Some Unpublished Letters of George Bernard Shaw, edited by Julian Park, [Buffalo, NY], 1939.

Florence Farr, Bernard Shaw, and W. B. Yeats, edited by Clifford Bax, Cuala Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1941, Dodd (New York, NY), 1942.

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

Advice to a Young Critic, and Other Letters, notes and introduction by E. J. West, Crown (New York, NY), 1955.

Bernard Shaw's Letters to Harley Granville Barker, edited by C. B. Purdom, Phoenix House (London, England), 1956, Crown (New York, NY), 1957.

To a Young Actress: The Letters of Bernard Shaw to Molly Tompkins, edited with an introduction by Peter Tompkins, Potter (London, England), 1960.

Collected Letters, four volumes, edited by Dan H. Laurence, Volume 1: 1874-1897, Dodd (New York, NY), 1965, Volume 2: 1898-1910, Dodd (New York, NY), 1965, Volume 3: 1911-1925, Viking (New York, NY), 1985, Volume 4: 1926-1950, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.

Bernard Shaw and Alfred Douglas: A Correspondence, edited by Mary Hyde, Ticknor & Fields (New Haven, CT), 1982.

The Playwright and the Pirate: Bernard Shaw and Frank Harris, a Correspondence, edited with an introduction by Stanley Weintraub, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1982.

Agitations: Letters to the Press, 1875-1950, edited by James Rambeau and Dan H. Laurence, Ungar (New York, NY), 1985.

Bernard Shaw's Letters to Siegfried Trebitsch, edited by Samuel A. Weiss, Stanford University Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1986.

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries, 1885-1897, edited and annotated by Stanley Weintraub, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1986.

Dear Mr. Shaw: Selections from Bernard Shaw's Postbag, edited by Vivian Elliot, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1988.

Theatrics, edited by Dan Laurence, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.

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

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


NOVELS; UNDER NAME BERNARD SHAW, EXCEPT AS NOTED

Cashel Byron's Profession, Harper (New York, NY), 1886, revised edition, Stone (Chicago, IL), 1901, edited with an introduction by Stanley Weintraub, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1968, definitive text edition edited by Dan H. Laurence, Penguin (New York, NY), 1979.

An Unsocial Socialist, Lowry (London, England), 1887, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1900.

Love among the Artists, Stone (Chicago, IL), 1900.

The Irrational Knot, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1905.

Immaturity, Constable (London, England), 1931.

My Dear Dorothea: A Practical System of Moral Education for Females, Embodied in a Letter to a Young Person of That Sex, illustrated by Clare Winsten, with a note by Stephen Winsten, Phoenix House (London, England), 1956, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1957.

An Unfinished Novel, edited by Stanley Weintraub, Dodd (New York, NY), 1958.


NONFICTION; UNDER NAME BERNARD SHAW, EXCEPT AS NOTED

(Editor) Fabian Essays in Socialism, Fabian Society (London, England), 1889.

The Quintessence of Ibsenism, Tucker (Boston, MA), 1891, 3rd edition, Constable (London, England), 1922, revised and enlarged edition published as Shaw and Ibsen: Bernard Shaw's The Quintessence of Ibsenism and Related Writings, edited by J. L. Wisenthal, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1979.

The Perfect Wagnerite, Grant Richards (London, England), 1898, Stone (Chicago, IL), 1899.

(Editor) Fabianism and the Empire: A Manifesto by the Fabian Society, Grant Richards (London, England), 1900.

The Common Sense of Municipal Trading, Constable (London, England), 1904, revised edition with preface, A. C. Fifield (London, England), 1908, John Lane (New York, NY), 1911.

The Author's Apology from Mrs. Warren's Profession: The Tyranny of Police and Press, introduction by John Corbin, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1905.

(Under name G. Bernard Shaw) An Essay on Going to Church, J. W. Luce (Boston, MA), 1905.

(Under name G. Bernard Shaw) Dramatic Opinions and Essays, with a word by James Huneker, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1906, published under name Bernard Shaw, with an apology by Shaw, 1907.

The Sanity of Art, Tucker (Boston, MA), 1908.

Socialism and Superior Brains, John Lane (New York, NY), 1910.

Peace Conference Hints, Constable (London, England), 1919.

Imprisonment Brentano's (New York, NY), 1925, published as The Crime of Imprisonment, illustrated by William Gropper, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1946.

Translations and Tomfooleries, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1926.

The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1928, with an introduction by Susan Moller Okin, Transaction Books (New Brunswick, NJ), 1984, published as The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism, and Fascism, Penguin (London, England), 1965.

Bernard Shaw and Karl Marx: A Symposium, 1884-1889, Georgian Press (London, England), 1930, Norwood Editions, 1978.

What I Really Wrote about the War (includes "Common Sense about the War"), Constable (London, England), 1931, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1932.

Doctor's Delusions, Crude Criminology, and Sham Education, Constable (London, England), limited edition, 1931, revised standard edition, 1932.

Pen Portraits and Reviews, Constable (London, England), 1932.

Essays in Fabian Socialism, Constable (London, England), 1932.

Our Theatres in the Nineties, Constable (London, England), 1932.

The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, Constable (London, England), 1932, Dodd (New York, NY), 1933.

(Under name George Bernard Shaw) American Boobs, E. O. Jones, 1933, published as The Future of Political Science in America, Dodd (New York, NY), 1933, published as The Politicial Madhouse in America and Nearer Home, Constable (London, England), 1933.

William Morris as I Knew Him, Dodd (New York, NY), 1936.

London Music in 1888-1889 as Heard by Corno di Bassetto, Dodd (New York, NY), 1937.

Shaw Gives Himself Away: An Autobiographical Miscellany, Gregynog Press (Newton, England), 1939.

Everybody's Political What's What, Dodd (New York, NY), 1944.

Sixteen Self Sketches, Dodd (New York, NY), 1949.

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

Platform and Pulpit, edited by Dan H. Laurence, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1961.

The Matter with Ireland, edited with an introduction by David H. Greene and Laurence, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1962.

(Under name George Bernard Shaw) On Language, edited with an introduction and notes by Abraham Tauber, foreword by James Pitman, Philosophical Library (New York, NY), 1963.

(Under name George Bernard Shaw) The Rationalization of Russia, edited with an introduction by Harry M. Geduld, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1964.

Shaw: An Autobiography, 1856-1898, compiled and edited by Stanley Weintraub, Weybright & Talley (New York, NY), 1969.

Shaw: An Autobiography; The Playwright Years, 1898-1950, compiled and edited by Stanley Weintraub, Weybright & Talley (New York, NY), 1970.

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

(Presumed author) Lady, Wilt Thou Love Me? (eighteen love poems to Ellen Terry attributed to Bernard Shaw), edited with introduction and notes by Jack Werner, Stein & Day (New York, NY), 1980.

Shaw's Music, three volumes, edited by Dan H. Laurence, Dodd (New York, NY), 1981.

Sheffielder: A Life in the City (social commentary), Alan Sutton (Gloucestershire, England), 1993.


Reviewer, Pall Mall Gazette, 1885-88; music critic, Dramatic Review, 1886; art critic, 1886-89, and music critic, 1890-94, under name G. B. S., for World; music critic under pseudonym Corno di Bassetto, London Star, 1888-90; drama critic, Saturday Review, 1895-98. Contributor to newspapers and periodicals, including London Daily Telegraph and Daily Sketch.


COLLECTIONS; UNDER NAME BERNARD SHAW

Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant, two volumes, Stone (Chicago, IL), 1898.

Three Plays for Puritans, Stone (Chicago, IL), 1901, abridged edition published as Two Plays for Puritans, illustrated by George Him, Heritage Press (New York, NY), 1966.

The Wisdom of Bernard Shaw (passages from Shaw's works), selected by Charlotte F. Shaw, Brentano's (New York, NY), 1913.

The Socialism of Shaw, edited with an introduction by James Fuchs, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1926.

The Works of Bernard Shaw, Collected Edition, thirty volumes, Constable (London, England), 1930-1932, revised edition published as The Works of Bernard Shaw, Ayot St. Lawrence Edition, Wise (New York, NY), 1931-32, enlarged edition published as Standard Edition of the Works of Bernard Shaw, thirty-six volumes, Constable, 1947-52.

The Complete Plays of Bernard Shaw, Constable (London, England), 1931.

Music in London, 1890-1894 (criticism; originally published in World), Constable (London, England), 1932.

Major Critical Essays, Constable (London, England), 1932, published as Major Critical Essays: The Quintessence of Ibsenism, The Perfect Wagnerite, The Sanity of Art, Penguin (New York, NY), 1986.

Short Stories, Scraps, and Shavings, illustrated by John Farleigh, Dodd (New York, NY), 1934, published as The Black Girl in Search of God, and Some Lesser Tales, Penguin (New York, NY), 1964.

Three Plays: Too True to Be Good, Village Wooing, and On the Rocks, Dodd (New York, NY), 1934.

Prefaces, Constable (London, England), 1934, published as Prefaces by Bernard Shaw, Reprint Services (Temecula, CA), 1988.

Nine Plays, Dodd (New York, NY), 1935.

Six Plays (companion to Nine Plays), Dodd (New York, NY), 1941.

Selected Novels, introduction by Arthur Zeiger, Caxton House (London, England), 1946.

Selected Plays (includes prefaces), Dodd (New York, NY), 1948-57.

Shaw on Vivisection, compiled and edited by G. H. Bowker, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1949, published as Are Doctors Really Inhuman?, Fridtjof-Karla (Michigan City, IN), 1957.

Plays and Players: Essays on the Theatre, selected with an introduction by A. C. Ward, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1952.

Selected Prose, selected by Diarmuid Russell, Dodd (New York, NY), 1952.

Shaw on Music, selected by Eric Bentley, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1955, reprinted, Applause (New York, NY), 1995.

Selected Plays and Other Writings, introduction by William Irvine, Rinehart (New York, NY), 1956.

The Illusions of Socialism, Together with Socialism: Principles and Outlook, Shaw Society (New York, NY), 1956.

Shaw on Theatre, edited by E. J. West, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1958.

Shaw's Dramatic Criticism: 1895-1898 (selections from Saturday Review), edited by John F. Matthews, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1959.

A Prose Anthology, selected with introduction and notes by H. M. Burton, preface by A. C. Ward, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1959.

Shaw on Shakespeare, Dutton (New York, NY), 1961, edited with an introduction by Edwin Wilson, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1971.

G. B. S. on Music, foreword by Alec Robertson, Penguin (New York, NY), 1962.

Religious Speeches, edited by Warren Sylvester Smith, foreword by Arthur N. Nethercot, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1963.

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

Bernard Shaw: Selections of His Wit and Wisdom, compiled by Caroline Thomas Harnsberger, Follett (New York, NY), 1965.

The Complete Prefaces of Bernard Shaw, Hamlyn Publishing (London, England), 1965.

Bernard Shaw's Ready-Reckoner, edited with an introduction by N. H. Leigh-Taylor, Random House (New York, NY), 1965.

Four Plays, foreword and introduction by Paul Kozelka, Washington Square Press (New York, NY), 1965.

Selected One-Act Plays, Penguin (New York, NY), 1965.

Seven Plays with Prefaces and Notes, Dodd (New York, NY), 1966.

Shaw on Religion, edited with an introduction and notes by Warren Sylvester Smith, Dodd (New York, NY), 1967.

Three Shorter Plays, Heinemann Educational (London, England), 1968.

Bernard Shaw's Plays, edited by Warren Sylvester Smith, Norton (New York, NY), 1970.

The Bodley Head Bernard Shaw, seven volumes (includes A Passion Play), Bodley Head (London, England), 1970, Reinhardt (London, England), 1970-74, published as Collected Plays with Their Prefaces, Dodd (New York, NY), 1975.

The Road to Equality: Ten Unpublished Lectures and Essays, 1884-1918, introduction by Louis Crompton, edited by Crompton and Hilayne Cavanaugh, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1971.

Collected Music Criticism, Vienna House (New York, NY), 1973.

The Portable Bernard Shaw, edited with an introduction by Stanley Weintraub, Penguin (New York, NY), 1977.

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

The Collected Screenplays of Bernard Shaw, edited by Bernard F. Dukore, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1980.

Selected Plays, preface by Rex Harrison, introductory essay by David Bearinger, Dodd (New York, NY), 1981.

Shaw on Dickens, edited and with introduction by Dan H. Laurence and Martin Quinn, Ungar (New York, NY), 1985.

Selected Short Plays, Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 1988.

Monologues from George Bernard Shaw, edited by Ian Michaels, Dramaline Publications (Rancho Mirage, CA), 1988.

Shaw on Photography: Essays and Photographs, edited by Bill Jay and Margaret Moore, P. Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1989.

Shaw on the London Art Scene, 1885-1950, edited by Stanley Weintraub, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1990.

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

Unpublished Shaw, edited by Dan H. Laurence and Margot Peters, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1996.

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

The Cambridge Companion to George Bernard Shaw, edited by Christopher Innes, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1998.


Facsimile editions of plays published as Early Texts: Play Manuscripts in Facsimile, twelve volumes, edited by Dan H. Laurence, Garland (New York, NY), 1981.




Adaptations

Among the films adapted from Shaw's plays are Arms and the Man, 1932 and 1962; Androcles and the Lion, 1952; Saint Joan, 1957 and 1994; The Doctor's Dilemma, 1958; The Devil's Disciple, 1959; The Millionairess, 1960; Mrs. Warren's Profession, 1960; and Great Catherine, 1968. Pygmalion, was adapted by Alan J. Lerner and Fritz Loewe as the stage musical My Fair Lady, 1956, and filmed in 1964; The Devil's Disciple, was recorded for sound cassette in 1994 by L.A. Theatre Works.




Sidelights

George Bernard Shaw has earned almost universal recognition as the chief English-speaking dramatist of the modern age, second only to William Shakespeare in his contribution to the British theatrical tradition. "One after another," H. W. Nevinson wrote in the New Leader, "his plays and the prefaces to his plays have laid bare the falsities and hypocrisies and boastful pretensions of our . . . time. I can think of no modern prophet who has swept away so much accepted rubbish and cleared the air of so much cant." A great innovator, Shaw invented the theater of ideas, turned the stage into a forum for moral instruction, altered outmoded and unrealistic theatrical conventions, and paved the way for later symbolist drama and the theater of the absurd. As such, he is credited with returning intellect to the theater. As Joseph Knight wrote in Athenaeum in 1907, before Shaw had even written his masterpieces, he "put new brains into the theatre, and ruthlessly taxed the brains of his audiences. He it is who has shown that it is possible to have an intellectual drama even in England, and an intellectual drama that shall be amusing." According to Archibald Henderson in European Dramatists, "Back of all surface manifestations lies the supreme conviction of Shaw that the theatre of today, properly utilized, is an instrumentality for the molding of character and the shaping of conduct no whit inferior to the Church and the School."

Born on July 26, 1856, in Dublin, Ireland, Shaw was the third and youngest child as well as the only son of George Carr and Lucinda Elizabeth (née Gurly) Shaw. Shaw's childhood was a difficult one: his father was an unsuccessful grain merchant who drank heavily, and his pretentious mother showed him little affection. Shaw attended a succession of schools, but his formal education left much to be desired. At age fifteen he began working as a rent collector for a land agent.



A Zealous Autodidact

Largely self-educated, Shaw read widely, devouring the works of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, John Bunyan, William Blake, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. He attended the theater to see French melodramas, Shakespearean comedies and dramas, and the works of the Irish-born playwright Dion Boucicault. Shaw also frequented the National Gallery of Ireland, where he encountered the works of Michelangelo. According to Dictionary of Literary Biography essayist John Greenfield, "The strongest and most immediate and pervasive influence on him at this time, however, was neither literature nor art but music. His mother made sure that the Shaw household never lacked for music; she and Shaw's two older sisters, Agnes and Lucy, all aspired to be professional singers, and Shaw himself sang and played the piano." Shaw's mother eventually moved to London, England, to pursue a career in music. In 1876 Shaw joined his mother in London, determined to pursue his own career in literature.


The next ten years were lean ones financially for Shaw. He wrote book reviews, drama reviews, and music and art criticism for various magazines, and he produced several unsuccessful novels. He often spent time at the British Museum Reading Room in pursuit of additional self-education, and he plunged himself into the London intellectual scene. Beginning in 1880 Shaw joined various philosophical, literary, and political organizations, including the Zetetical Society, the Dialectical Society, the Shelley Society, and the New Shakespeare Society. In 1882, after hearing a lecture by American economist and reformer Henry George, Shaw converted to socialism. He became a driving force in the Fabian Society, a middle-class socialist group, developing into an effective pamphleteer and public speaker. "Despite his failure in fiction, the 1880s were the decade in which Shaw found himself," wrote Stanley Weintraub in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. "He became a vegetarian, a socialist, a spellbinding orator, a polemicist, even, tentatively, a playwright."

During this time Shaw became acquainted with William Archer, a journalist who persuaded his editor to hire Shaw as an art critic. According to Weintraub, "Shaw had been experimenting in the drama since his early twenties, but not until William Archer in 1884 suggested a collaboration (Archer to
supply the plot, Shaw the dialogue) did serious work result. Even then the project was abandoned after Shaw used up all the projected plot; but eight years later, in 1892, Shaw completed the play on his own for J. T. Grein's fledgling Independent Theatre Society." Widowers' Houses, informed by his experiences as a rent collector, was Shaw's first play to reach the stage.


Recognition as a major force in the theater came slowly for Shaw, partly because he was already a celebrity when Widowers' Houses appeared in 1892. By that time Shaw had developed a public personality as the impudent, iconoclastic, paradoxical, and witty "G. B. S." who combined elements of the clown and the crank in his strident platform utterances and devastating published criticism of art, literature, music, and drama. J. I. M. Stewart wrote in Eight Modern Writers that Shaw "consistently employed arts of showmanship that are not commonly held becoming in a writer unquestionably eminent."



Theatrical Peaks and Valleys

Shaw's own career in the theater developed in four phases. In the initial period—from 1892 to 1902—his plays appeared in suburban and matinee performances in England and won wider audiences only through publication. During the second period, running from 1903 to the eve of World War I, Shaw secured a place in the London theater, scoring successes at the Royal Court Theatre and in the commercial West End. The third phase began in 1914 with intense public disapproval of his "Common Sense about the War" but took a turn in 1923 with public adulation for Saint Joan and peaked in 1925 with Shaw receiving the Nobel Prize for literature. In the final stage, which extended from 1929 to his death, Shaw became preoccupied with political issues, and he alienated many people with his often controversial views on European dictators.


In retrospect, the first period of Shaw's dramatic career suggests a surprising reluctance on the part of critics to recognize his genius. His plays had short runs in small cities; only a few were staged in London. Widowers' Houses was performed only twice in London, in 1892. Shaw's next several plays were staged only after difficulties. The Philanderer, a satire, found no producer until 1905, and Mrs. Warren's Profession, addressing the social issues implicit in prostitution, was banned by the Lord Chamberlain, thus limiting it to club performances until the ban was removed late in 1924. In 1897 Shaw's first study in greatness, his playlet on Napoleon called The Man of Destiny, had one performance in the London suburb
of Croydon. Candida, which presents a memorable woman choosing her conventional husband over an admiring young poet for unconventional reasons, also had one 1897 performance in Aberdeen, Scotland, and The Devil's Disciple, an inverted melodrama set in America during the war for independence, had one 1897 performance in Albany, New York.


Although Shaw's plays also had a few London performances at the turn of the twentieth century—You Never Can Tell in 1899 and Captain Brassbound's Conversion in 1900—his impact on the stage was almost nonexistent. His importance came when his works appeared in print. When he published Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant he provided elaborate prefaces raising the significant issues of his plays. He also wrote his stage directions in a narrative form more congenial than the terse notations common to dramatic scripts. As T. F. Evans commented in Shaw: The Critical Heritage, Shaw took great pains with every detail of publication: He "had much to say to [publisher] Grant Richards on the physical appearance of the books, the type, the binding, the advertisements, the sales policy and the author's royalties."


Shaw's plays were criticized on several counts. One common charge was that his plays are not really plays at all. Arnold Bennett, writing for Academy, felt that Shaw's works are "decidedly not drama" even if they include "amusing and edifying dialogue." Another charge that contemporary critics frequently leveled at Shaw concerns the supposed heartlessness of his approach to life and the ostensibly inhuman nature of his characters. Responding to Arms and the Man, William Archer commented in World: "To look at nothing but the seamy side may be to see life steadily, but is not to see it whole. As an artist, Mr. Shaw suffers from this limitation; and to this negative fault, if I may call it so, he super-adds a positive vice of style." Further, Archer criticized Shaw for his "peculiar habit of straining all the red corpuscles out of the blood of his personages. They have nothing of human nature except its pettinesses; they are devoid alike of its spiritual and its sensual instincts."


During the playwright's second phase, some critics expressed greater understanding of Shaw's methods. In 1900, reviewing Captain Brassbound's Conversion for World, Archer ridiculed theater managers' failures to realize that Shaw's plays could be commercially successful in West End theaters. Archer contended that audiences were enjoying Shaw's plays thoroughly despite the disapproval of drama critics. Max Beerbohm, reviewing the published volume Man and Superman for the Saturday Review in 1903, also blamed theater managers for the commercial failure of Shaw's plays. "It is only the theatrical managers," he wrote, "who stand between him and the off-chance of a real popular success."



Finds Commercial Success in London

Man and Superman was an important turning point in Shavian drama, presenting for the first time a coherent statement—in the Don Juan in Hell interlude—of Shaw's ideal of the "Life Force." To the consternation of the author's socialist friends, the play treats Fabianism comically, satirizing socialist movements among the brigands and commenting—specifically in the Revolutionist's Handbook appended to the public version of the play—that Fabianism is one of socialism's failed experiments. In The Bishop of Everywhere, Warren Sylvester Smith declared that the play's "subject is simple: The Life Force, acting through the will of woman, subdues man to its purpose, and thereby moves the race to its next higher level. That is the subject that gives unity to the play, even though it proves somewhat limiting to its philosophical development." Smith agreed with Alfred Turco, Jr., who in Shaw's Moral Vision noted that Man and Superman is the culmination of Shaw's career, "the first play in which Shaw's belief in the possibility of an effective idealism is presented with real conviction."

More important to Shaw's popular success were the 1904 through 1907 seasons of the Royal Court Theatre, which began its association with the Irish-born playwright with six matinee performances of Candida in April and May of 1904. Responding to the popularity of the matinees, the Royal Court performed John Bull's Other Island in November of 1904, launching Shaw's stage career in England. The play drew large audiences and favorable responses, and it was given a command performance for King Edward VII. Major Barbara, performed in 1905, "is one of Shaw's most intellectually complex plays," noted Weintraub. The work reflects Shaw's concerns about capitalism and poverty, and revolves around the relationship between Barbara Undershaft, a major in the Salvation Army, and her estranged father, Andrew Undershaft, a wealthy munitions manufacturer. In Major Barbara, Weintraub wrote, "Shaw continued, through the medium of high comedy, to explore the religious consciousness and to point out society's complicity in its own evils."

Subsequent performances of Shaw's plays at the Royal Court included Man and Superman, The Doctor's Dilemma, Captain Brassbound's Conversion, The Philanderer, The Man of Destiny, and Don Juan in Hell. Of 988 performances during the years 1904 to 1907 at the Royal Court, 701 were of plays by Shaw. These productions clearly established the viability of Shaw's work in performance and attracted a larger theater-going audience to his plays.

After staging several plays of limited appeal, Shaw produced three works that sealed his reputation as a playwright. Fanny's First Play, which began a record run of 622 performances at London's Little Theatre on April 19, 1911; Androcles and the Lion, which premiered in 1913; and Pygmalion, which premiered the next year, completed Shaw's theatrical triumph in the West End. Weintraub called Pygmalion "a high and humane comedy about love and class, the story of a cockney flower girl trained to pass as a lady, and the repercussions of the experiment's success." Pygmalion was filmed in 1938, with Shaw garnering an Academy Award for his screenplay. "Possibly Shaw's comedic masterpiece, and certainly his funniest and most popular play, it is never absent from the stage somewhere in the world," Weintraub added.

By this time, Shaw had gained recognition as both a new force in drama and as a commercially successful playwright. He also began to find defenders of
his drama, and many agreed with the assessment of Dixon Scott in Bookman that when "the limitations of the plays are realized they cease to possess any; once you see that Shaw has done the best he could for us under the circumstances, then his effort is seen in relation to those circumstances and its errors instinctively allowed for. Recognize that a passion for purity, gentleness, truth, justice, and beauty is the force at the base of all his teaching, and you will find his message one of the most tonic of our time."


Takes Controversial Political Stance

The third phase of Shaw's dramatic career—the years 1914 to 1925—saw him fall to the lowest point of his popularity, only to rise again to the height of international fame. When World War I broke out in August of 1914, Shaw turned down several remunerative offers and withdrew to write the pamphlet "Common Sense about the War," later published in 1931's What I Really Wrote about the War. When "Common Sense about the War" first appeared in November 1914, it sold more than 75,000 copies and managed to alienate practically everyone with its contention that England must bear its share of responsibility for a war that would be ruinous for all parties. Shaw's stance was so disturbing to super-patriots that he found himself unwanted even at the Dramatists' Club, where he was the most eminent member. The essay proved extremely damaging to Shaw's reputation, destroying a popularity his best efforts had taken more than two decades to establish.

Eventually the British government realized the accuracy of Shaw's farsightedness, and by 1917 he was invited to Flanders to report from the front for the Daily Sketch. As T. S. Eliot commented in Dial, "It might have been predicted that what he said then would not seem so subversive or blasphemous now. The public has accepted Mr. Shaw not by recognizing the intelligence of what he said then, but by forgetting it." By the close of World War I in 1918, Shaw had emerged as virtually the only public figure who had seen the folly of the war from its inception, and from his wartime experiences grew his greatest plays. During the war Shaw wrote only a few light pieces, and it became fashionable to represent him as on the wane; John Leslie Palmer actually titled a 1915 Fortnightly Review article "Mr. Bernard Shaw: An Epitaph." Shaw's plays from this period, infrequently staged, lampoon aspects of World War I. The Inca of Perusalem, produced in 1916, spoofs Kaiser Wilhelm; Augustus Does His Bit, staged one year later, satirizes well-meaning but self-important, befuddled bureaucrats whose incompetence undermine the war effort; and O'Flaherty, V. C., which was not performed in London until after the armistice, satirizes the ambiguous role of the Irish in the war by showing that O'Flaherty, winner of the Victoria Cross, dreaded meeting his mother because she thought he was fighting against the English.


Still, Shaw drew what some critics consider his three greatest plays—Heartbreak House, Back to Methuselah, and Saint Joan—from the crucible of his 1914 to 1918 experiences. In Shakes versus Shav, Shaw explicitly identifies Heartbreak House as his "King Lear." Begun during the war and performed in 1920, Heartbreak House examines the prewar spiritual impoverishment that made World War I inevitable. Shaw's most ambitious work, Back to Methuselah, is a five-part cycle that dramatizes the workings of Creative Evolution as a solution to man's propensity for self-slaughter.

A Masterwork and the Nobel Prize

Neither Heartbreak House nor Back to Methuselah received enthusiastic responses. But Saint Joan, which concerns the religious martyr Joan of Arc, restored Shaw to the highest place in public esteem. As Alexander Woolcott commented in the New York Herald, "for most of those who see Saint Joan this will be their image of her." For Stewart, the character of Joan of Arc "at last" reveals Shaw's capability to create a real human being. Instead of ending the play with Joan's execution, which would impress upon an audience the inevitability of tragedy, Shaw provides an epilogue that presents Joan ultimately triumphant over the religious and secular forces that combined to oppose her. Despite her canonization, however, Joan is once again vilified, revealing the paradox that humanity fears and even kills its saints and heroes for the very qualities that ennoble them. Such rejection, Shaw suggests, will continue until saintly and heroic qualities become universal among humankind.


When Shaw won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925, he reportedly joked that it was in recognition of his not having written a play for that year. He then refused the prize money, suggesting that it fund an Anglo-Swedish literary foundation, which it ultimately did. After Saint Joan, Shaw wrote no plays for six years. From 1923 to 1928 he worked on The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism, and when he returned to writing plays, he gave most of them a political bent. His 1929 work The Apple Cart, drawing its ideas from The Intelligent Woman's Guide, contrasts the ineptitude of popular leaders with the superiority of a competent aristocrat, thus alienating those who regarded Shaw's elevation of King Magnus as a direct attack on parliamentary government.


In Too True to Be Good, written in 1932, Shaw takes an absurdist stance in regard to several aspects of the British military presence in other lands, while On the Rocks predicts the collapse of parliamentary democracy in the face of overwhelming economic problems. In Geneva, Shaw presents a ridiculously futile League of Nations trying to control thinly disguised caricatures of Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, and Francisco Franco, suggesting that his sympathy for "benevolent" despots lingered until the eve of World War II.


These apparent rejections of democracy alienated many theatergoers almost as thoroughly as Shaw's misunderstood stance in "Common Sense" had alienated the English during World War I. Coupled with the unpopularity of Shaw's political position during this period was the recognition of his waning dramatic powers, although a waning Shaw remained more vital in the theater than many of the younger generations that owed so much to his pioneering efforts. Still, critics who had come to accept and to respect Shaw over the years were disappointed with The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, written in 1934 and first performed the following year, which applies a "day of judgment" solution to the ills of the world by having angels eliminate all those who are worthless. Critics speculate that Shaw was running short of inspiration at this point, as he had after completing Saint Joan. Written in 1938 and 1939, his "In Good King Charles's Golden Days"—a fanciful discussion among Charles II, Sir Isaac Newton, George Fox, Nell Gwynn, and others—echoes the aristocratic motifs of The Apple Cart.

Between the end of World War II and his death in 1950, Shaw seemed to write in the spirit of the comment he included in the preface to the published edition of Buoyant Billions: "as long as I live I must write." He returned to earlier concerns in his grappling for something to convey. Buoyant Billions reworks the themes of the 1936 play The Millionairess, Farfetched Fables takes a post-atomic view of the future, Shakes versus Shav provides a discussion between Shakespearean and Shavian puppets on their relative merits, and Why She Would Not employs the "born boss" and duel-of-sex themes that Shaw had used earlier. While these last plays failed to match the success of those great earlier works, at his death Shaw was still considered a premier dramatist.

If you enjoy the works of George Bernard Shaw

If you enjoy the works of George Bernard Shaw, you may also want to check out the plays:


Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People, first performed in 1882.

August Strindberg, Miss Julie, first performed in 1888.

Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard, first performed in 1904.


Although some critics contend that Shaw's acceptance as a major playwright was much more gradual than it should have been, his many contributions to the theater are undeniable. By insisting that the theater provide moral instruction, for instance, he invented the theater of ideas, which ranks as one of his greatest achievements. He also created his own genre—serious farce—by inverting melodramatic conventions and using the techniques of comedy to advance serious views on human conduct, social institutions, and political systems. Ronald Peacock described this in The Poet in the Theatre as a "remarkable feat." Maxwell Anderson expressed equally great praise for Shaw in Off Broadway: Essays about the Theatre when he wrote: "The worth of his work lies in this—that in expounding, defending, attacking, and laying bare all the conceivable aspects of belief and all the possible motives for action he has irradiated almost the whole of a century with the unquenchable wildfire of an extraordinary brain."




Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

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

Anderson, Maxwell, Off Broadway: Essays about the Theater, William Sloane (New York, NY), 1947.

Baker, Stuart E., Bernard Shaw's Remarkable Religion: A Faith That Fits the Facts, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 2002.

Bentley, Eric, Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, New Directions (New York, NY), 1957.

Berst, Charles A., Bernard Shaw and the Art of Drama, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1973.

Berst, Charles A., editor, Shaw and Religion, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1981.

Berst, Charles A., Pygmalion: Shaw's Spin on Myth and Cinderella, Twayne (New York, NY), 1995.

Black, Martha Fodaski, Shaw and Joyce: The Last Word in Stolentelling, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 1995.

Bloom, Harold, editor, George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion," Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 1988.

Bryan, George, with Wolfgang Mieder, The Proverbial Shaw: An Index to Proverbs in the Works of George Bernard Shaw, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1994.

Bryden, Ronald, Shaw and His Contemporaries: Theatre Essays, Mosaic Press, 2003.

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

Chesterton, G. K., George Bernard Shaw, John Lane (New York, NY), 1909.

Crompton, Louis, Shaw the Dramatist, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1969.

Davis, Tracy, George Bernard Shaw and the Socialist Theatre, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1994.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 10: Modern British Dramatists, 1940-1945, 1982; Volume 57: Victorian Prose Writers after 1867, 1987; Volume 190: British Reform Writers, 1832-1914, 1998.

Dietrich, Richard, Bernard Shaw's Novels: Portraits of the Artist as Man and Superman, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 1996.

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

Dukore, Bernard F., Bernard Shaw, Playwright, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1973.

Dukore, Bernard F., Bernard Shaw: The Drama Observed, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1993.

Dukore, Bernard F., Shaw's Theater, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 2000.

Ervine, St. John, Bernard Shaw, Morrow (New York, NY), 1956.

Evans, Judith, The Politics and Plays of Bernard Shaw, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 2003.

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

Gibbs, A. M., The Art and Mind of Shaw: Essays in Criticism, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1983.

Gibbs, A. M., editor, Shaw: Interviews and Recollections, University of Iowa Press (Ames, IA), 1990.

Gibbs, A. M., Heartbreak House: Preludes of Apocalypse, Twayne (New York, NY), 1994.

Gibbs, A. M., A Bernard Shaw Chronology, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2001.

Henderson, Archibald, European Dramatists, Appleton (New York, NY), 1926.

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

Hill, Eldon C., George Bernard Shaw, Twayne (New York, NY), 1978.

Holroyd, Michael, editor, The Genius of Shaw, Holt, Rinehart (New York, NY), 1979.

Holroyd, Michael, Bernard Shaw, Chatto & Windus (London, England), Volume 1: 1856-1898: The Search for Love, 1988; Volume 2: 1898-1918: The Pursuit of Power, 1989; Volume 3: 1918-1950: The Lure of Fantasy, 1991.

Hugo, Leon, Edwardian Shaw: The Writer and His Age, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Huneker, J. G., Iconoclasts: A Book of Dramatists, Scribner (New York, NY), 1905.

Kaufman, R. J., editor, G. B. Shaw: A Collection of Critical Essays, Prentice-Hall (New York, NY), 1965.

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

Kronenberger, Louis, editor, George Bernard Shaw: A Critical Survey, World Publishing (New York, NY), 1953.

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

MacCarthy, Desmond, Shaw, MacGibbon & Kee (London, England), 1951.

Mayne, Fred, The Wit and Satire of Bernard Shaw, Edward Arnold (London, England), 1967.

Meisel, Martin, Shaw and the Nineteenth-Century Theater, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1963.

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

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

Pagliaro, Harold, Relations between the Sexes in the Plays of George Bernard Shaw, Edwin Mellen Press, 2004.

Peacock, Ronald, The Poet in the Theatre, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1946, revised edition, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1960.

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

Reynolds, Jean, "Pygmalion"'s Wordplay: The Postmodern Shaw, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 1999.

Ross, David, George Bernard Shaw, Geddes & Grossett, 2002.

Shaw, Bernard, Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant, two volumes, Stone (Chicago, IL), 1898.

Shaw, Bernard, Plays, foreword by Eric Bentley, New American Library (New York, NY), 1960.

Shaw, Bernard, Collected Plays with Their Prefaces, eight volumes, Dodd (New York, NY), 1975.

Silver, Arnold, Bernard Shaw: The Darker Side, Stanford University Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1982.

Smith, Warren Sylvester, The Bishop of Everywhere, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1982.

Stewart, J. I. M., Eight Modern Writers, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1963.

Turco, Alfred, Jr., Shaw's Moral Vision: The Self and Salvation, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1976.

Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 3, 1980; Volume 9, 1983; Volume 21, 1986; Volume 46, 1993.

Ward, A. C., Bernard Shaw, Longmans, Green (New York, NY), 1951.

Winer, Gary, Readings on "Pygmalion," Greenhaven (San Diego, CA), 2002.

Weintraub, Rodelle, editor, Fabian Feminist: Bernard Shaw and Women, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1977.

Weintraub, Stanley, The Unexpected Shaw, Ungar (New York, NY), 1982.

Weintraub, Stanley, Shaw's People: Victoria to Churchill, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1996.

Whitman, Robert F., Shaw and the Play of Ideas, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1977.

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

Wisenthal, J. M., The Marriage of Contraries: Bernard Shaw's Middle Plays, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1974.

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



PERIODICALS

Academy, February 9, 1901.

Athenaeum, July 27, 1907.

Bookman, September, 1913; December, 1924.

Dial, October, 1921.

English Review, September, 1931.

Fortnightly Review, March 1, 1915; April-May, 1926.

New Leader, August 23, 1929.

New Statesman, July 9, 1921.

New York Herald, December 29, 1923.

Saturday Review, February 1, 1902; September 12, 1903.

Shaw, annually 1981—.

Shaw Review, 1958-80.

Time, July 24, 1995, p. 66.

Times Literary Supplement, June 24, 1988.

Vanity Fair, September, 1991, p. 214.

World, April 25, 1894.


ONLINE

Nobel Prize,http://nobelprize.org/ (October 5, 2004), "George Bernard Shaw."*

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Shaw, George Bernard

SHAW, GEORGE BERNARD

SHAW, GEORGE BERNARD (1856–1950), Irish-born playwright, novelist, and critic.

Bernard Shaw's fame and importance rest finally on two distinctions. First, he was by any external measure the most important British dramatist since William Shakespeare. His playwriting career began with Widowers' Houses (1892) and continued unchecked almost until his death; he wrote in all fifty plays, and by the 1930s he had become part of the established classical repertoire, his plays regularly revived (at the Old Vic, London's "home of Shakespeare," among other theaters) even as new ones continued to appear. In the early twenty-first century Shaw is the only English-speaking playwright other than Shakespeare to have a major theatrical organization (the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada) named after him and primarily dedicated to his work.

Second, his plays are unique in their yoking of high comedy to sociopolitical comment. The socialist polemics—expressed in his early batch of "Plays Unpleasant" like Widowers' Houses, which dealt with slum landlordism, and Mrs. Warren's Profession (1893), about prostitution—were what first attracted his contemporaries' attention, and led to him being tagged as a social realist. It was a mis-conception partly fueled by his work as a theater critic; from 1895 to 1898 he wrote brilliant reviews for Saturday Review, in which he attacked late-Victorian escapist drama (and elaborate Victorian staging of Shakespeare). Henrik Ibsen was his hero, but he praised Ibsen as a theatrical sociologist rather than as the skeptical dramatic poet he actually was. In his own dramatic practice, however, he wrote madcap intellectual farce whose concerns sometimes overlapped with those of Ibsen's prose dramas but whose style never did. Ibsen might be mistaken for a naturalist; Shaw, after his first couple of plays, never could. Much of his appeal, in both his dramatic and nondramatic writing, lies in the sheer wit and buoy-ancy of his prose. His rhythms challenge and delight audiences; "the ear" (as he himself said of Shakespeare) "is the key to him."

Like many of the major "English" dramatists (William Congreve, George Farquhar, Richard Sheridan, Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde) Shaw was Irish. He was born in Dublin, into a Protestant family, and lived there until 1876, when he moved to London. His Irishness remained part of his image; and "image" was an important part of his success. He was the first major English writer since Samuel Johnson to have talked and postured his way into lasting prominence. His brogue, his red hair, his teetotalism, his vegetarianism, his incredible energy, his literary combativeness (which concealed a less notorious personal kindness)—all contributed to a persona consciously created and known as "GBS." (Shaw was always "Bernard Shaw" on his title-pages and said that nothing enraged him more "than to be Georged in print," but he had no objection to the popular employment of all three of his initials.) He was a celebrity in literary London long before he was a financial success; indeed, he lived in poverty until the production of The Devil's Disciple in 1897. By his death, of course, he was, thanks to performing and publishing royalties plus the sales of his plays to the movies, one of the wealthiest writers in the world. (It is worth repeating his possibly acpocryphal remark to movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn: "The problem between us, Mr. Goldwyn, is that you are only interested in art and I am only interested in money.")

From the 1880s onward Shaw was a socialist, not a revolutionary (though he was much influenced by his reading of Karl Marx). He was a founder and leading light of the Fabian Society (a group promoting non-Marxist socialism by progressive legislation, not revolution); Vladimir Lenin famously called him "a good man fallen among Fabians." He believed in the perfectibility of human society and even of the human race; he believed in great men, whom he dramatized in his historical plays The Man of Destiny (about Napoleon, 1895) and especially Caesar and Cleopatra (1899), and in great women (Saint Joan, 1923), all of whom he imbued with his own qualities of humorous clear-sightedness and—the nearest thing to tragedy in his work—personal loneliness. Their contemporaries misunderstand them and eventually turn against them.

His key play is Man and Superman (1902), in which he uses the ceaselessly voluble armchair revolutionary John Tanner—something of a self-portrait—to preach his own brand of benevolent Nietzscheanism, and then brings him up against the true embodiment of his vaunted "Life Force," his enchanting ward Ann Whitefield whose sexual predatoriness he has been mocking without ever realizing that he himself is her "marked-down prey." When, at the end of four long acts, she ensnares him, the implication is that their union will contribute to the eventual advent of Shaw's longed-for Superman. Tanner is Shaw's mischievous updating of Don Juan Tenorio: mischievous because, as we learn from the long dream-sequence Don Juan in Hell, this is a legendary lover who has forsworn physical love and whose passions are now of the brain rather than the senses. But whatever its philosophical underpinnings, the play endures as a love-comedy, even a sex-comedy. It is a variation on an age-old comic theme: the bringing together, despite the misgivings of one or both, of two young people who are obviously made for one another. Shaw's most popular play, Pygmalion (1912), is a romance in spite of itself; though he fitted out its published version with a narrative sequel, claiming that its hero and heroine never got married, nobody has ever believed him. For the play to turn into My Fair Lady (1956), one of the best of romantic musical comedies, was not much of a stretch.

Shaw's own sex life was curious. Though extremely susceptible to women, he kept his virginity until 1885, when—on his twenty-ninth birthday—he succumbed to a temperamental Irish widow, Mrs. Julia (Jenny) Patterson. Other affairs followed, but his marriage—to another Irishwoman, Charlotte Payne-Townshend—was, though apparently very happy, platonic. (The marriage lasted from 1898 until Char-lotte's death in 1943.) In his plays sexlessness, even when the subject is love, becomes a matter not just of nineteenth-century reticence but of principle. In Backto Methuselah (1920) he looks forward to an ideal future in which the body has been superseded by "pure thought."

This has not been, in literary and critical circles, a popular idea, despite Shaw's popularity in the theater (where intellectual passion counts for more than is sometimes acknowledged, and where sexuality can be, by adroit actors and directors, smuggled in). His politics cannot be pigeon-holed as left or right, militant or pacifist. In Major Barbara (1905) he gives an armaments manufacturer the best arguments, but he was vilified for opposing World War I. He said that the nearest thing he had to a religion was a belief in "Creative Evolution," but his enthusiasm for "strong men" led in the 1930s to a disquieting enthusiasm for dictators. He condemned Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitism, but in terms that suggested that it was no more than an aberration. He could not, apparently, conceive of the real depths of human hatred and human evil; the men who condemn his Saint Joan may be misguided but they are acting from, in their own minds, the purest motives, and Shaw lets them state their own case in the purest form.

Though he claimed in the play's preface that Saint Joan was the noblest kind of tragedy—one without villains—he lacked the tragic vision (the closest he came to it, and that fleetingly, was in the abrupt mock-apocalyptic climax to Heartbreak House, 1917), and this has caused him to be underrated in a culture that considers comedy an inferior form. Most infuriating of all, even to some of his greatest admirers, is the sense he conveys—in plays, prefaces, and in politico-economic works from The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1927) to Everybody's Political What's What (1944)—that he has all the answers, and that all society's problems would be solved if people would only listen to him. The pervading sweet reasonableness, laced with paradox, can be oppressive (though it has also gained him many disciples). He himself seems sometimes to have tired of it, as is suggested by the uncharacterstically despairing epilogue to Too True to Be Good (1931) in which a burglar turned preacher confesses that he must go on talking even if no one is listening.

Linked to this is an often-leveled charge that he parodied more humorously in Fanny's First Play (1911) that all his characters are figures "set up to spout Shaw." This, though, is only true if we concede that he must have been myriad-minded; his figures may all speak in the same style (so do those of many other playwrights) but their opinions vary wildly—and he can make each of them sound perfectly convincing. This is one reason why actors have little difficulty in animating them. Shaw's themes, even those of his earliest plays, still ring bells; questions of war and peace, riches and poverty, how and what to believe, have not died out yet. And the entertainment value remains constant.

See alsoFabians; Great Britain; Ibsen, Henrik; Marx, Karl; Socialism.

bibliography

Primary Works

Shaw, Bernard. What I Really Wrote about the War. London, 1930.

——. Our Theatres in the Nineties. 3 vols. London, 1932.

——. Everybody's Political What's What. London, 1944.

——. Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters. Edited by Dan H. Laurence. 4 vols. London, 1965–1988.

——. The Bodley Head Bernard Shaw: Collected Plays with Their Prefaces. 7 vols. London, 1970–1974.

——. The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism. Harmondsworth, U.K., 1982.

——. Major Critical Essays (The Quintessence of Ibsenism, The Perfect Wagnerite, The Sanity of Art). Harmonds-worth, U.K., 1986.

Secondary Sources

Bentley, Eric. Bernard Shaw. London, 1950.

Evans, Judith. The Politics and Plays of Bernard Shaw. Jefferson, N.C., and London, 2003.

Gahan, Peter. Shaw Shadows: Rereading the Texts of Bernard Shaw. Gainesville, Fla., 2004.

Gibbs, A. M. A Bernard Shaw Chronology. Basingstoke, Hampshire, U.K., and New York, 2001.

Holroyd, Michael. Bernard Shaw: The One-Volume Definitive Edition. New York, 1998.

Mander, Raymond, and Joe Mitchenson. Theatrical Companion to Shaw: A Pictorial Record of the First Performances of the Plays of George Bernard Shaw. London, 1954.

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

Robert Cushman

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Shaw, George Bernard

Shaw, George Bernard

Shaw, George Bernard, famous Irish dramatist; b. Dublin, July 26, 1856; d. Ayot St. Lawrence, England, Nov. 2, 1950. Before winning fame as a playwright, he was active as a music critic in London, writing for the Star under the name of “Corno di Bassetto” (1888–89) and for the World (1890–94). In 1899 he publ. The Perfect Wagnerite, a highly individual socialistic interpretation of the Ring of the Nibelung. His criticisms from the World were reprinted as Music in London (3 vols., 1932; new ed., 1950); those from the Star as London Music in 1888–89 (London and N.Y., 1937); selected criticisms were ed. by E. Bentley (N.Y, 1954). Shaw’s play Arms and the Man was made into an operetta, The Chocolate Soldier, by Oskar Straus (1908); his Pygmalion was converted into a highly successful musical comedy under the title My Fair Lady, with a musical score by Frederick Loewe (1956).

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