George Bernard Shaw Biography

George Bernard Shaw Biography

George Bernard Shaw was a man of many, many words. His voluminous output over a lifespan of nearly one hundred years has few parallels. While most of his plays dealt with social and political issues, they are best remembered for their intellectual repartee or “Shavian Wit.” Early social dramas like Widower’s Houses and Mrs. Warren’s Profession drew parallels to Ibsen’s early realist works. But by the turn of the century, Shaw’s smart, funny voice had emerged—a unique intersection of styles typified by writers like Oscar Wilde and Anton Chekhov. As a testament to Shaw’s legacy, works like Major Barbara, Saint Joan, and Man and Superman have become canonical, and the Shaw Festival in Canada is one of the largest theater festivals in North America.

Facts and Trivia

  • George Bernard Shaw was an avid socialist throughout his life and even supported for a time the Stalinist regime in Russia.
  • Shaw became legendary for the lengthy prefaces to his plays, which enumerated various social and political concerns. Some of the prefaces were longer than the plays themselves.
  • Shaw’s dark, Chekhovian play Heartbreak House evoked his strong opposition to World War I.
  • Given Shaw’s distaste for musical adaptations of his plays, My Fair Lady (which is taken from Shaw’s Pygmalion) was completed after his death.
  • Referenced in his massive Back to Methuselah and other writings, the “Life Force” was a spiritual idea Shaw created about life and the universe. Its true meaning is still contended.
Additional Content
  • Biography (History of the World: The 20th Century)
  • Biography (Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)
  • Biography (Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)
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(The entire section is 9547 words.)