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George Bernard Shaw.
 

(1856-1950)

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Was a Irish born dramatist, critic, and essayist he is regarded as one of the most important literary figures of the 1900's. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925.

Shaw was influenced by the revolutionary social dramas of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, he viewed the theatre as a platform for supporting social reform. His career covered nearly 60 years, in that time he wrote over 50 plays. Most of them were comedies in which a debate on ethics is as important as such traditional dramatic values as characterization and appealing to the emotions of an audience.

Shaw was a great defender of women's rights, he became a vegetarian, He used his plays to defend his opinions often publishing an essay as preface to his plays. The essay's like his play's demonstrate his brilliance and wit.

Early Life.Shaw was born in Dublin on July 26, 1856. He moved to London in 1876, and became a successful music critic. In 1884, he was one of the founding members of the Fabian Society, the aims of which were to promote political and economic change through reform. Shaw wrote The Quintessence of Ibsenism which was a lecture on Ibsen it was published in 1891. Shaw's early plays were regarded as radical and did not gain immediate popularity in London. In his first play Widower's Houses published in 1892, he attacked slum landlords. In Mrs. Warren's Profession, which is directed at the causes of prostitution, it was written in 1893. It was produced in 1902 and was immediately banned. Arms and the Man 1894, did not have a successful opening it was an antiwar comedy.

Mature. After 1904 when Harley Granville-Barker a friend of Shaw's produced eleven of Shaw's plays in the Royal Court Theatre public hostility to Shaw began to disappear These included Caesar and Cleopatra (1898), Candida (1895), The Devil's Disciple (1897), and Man and Superman (1903). This last play contains the celebrated scene Don Juan in Hell, which is often performed as a separate work.

Life Force. In Shaw's play Back to Methuselah 1918-1920, which traces the history of humanity. This play is considered his most ambitious, in it and also Man and Superman he promotes the concept of life force, he perceived life force as a biological energy which dominates people, when this energy is harnessed it can lead to a higher more creative existence.

Greatest Works. Opinion is divided as to which is Shaw's greatest work some consider Saint Joan (1923) a drama about the individual in conflict, while some consider Pygmalion (1912) his greatest. It is a story of how a professor of phonetics (speech sounds) changes a Cockney girl into an aristocrat by changing her speech, thereby demonstrating the absurdity of class distinction. This play was adapted into the musical My Fair Lady (1956)
Other plays by Shaw include Major Barbara (1905), The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), Androcles and the Lion (1913), and Heartbreak House (1919)

Quotation's by G B Shaw.

The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor. He takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.

Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.

 
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