Kragnes Korner

George Bernard Shaw
1856 - 1950

Irish playwright and critic

Shaw's dramas of ideas revolutionized the Victorian stage, and his criticism is considered superb. In 1925 he was awarded the Nobel prize in literature.

A Fabian socialist, Shaw was a popular speaker and wrote five novels before becoming a music critic for London newspapers in 1888. After 1895, as drama critic for the Saturday Review, he won readers to IBSEN. His early plays were collected in plays pleasant and Unpleasant (1898). Among the "unpleasant" plays was Mrs. Warren's profession (1893), a jibe at Victorian attitudes on prostitution. The "pleasant" plays included Arms and the Man (1894), satirizing romantic attitudes toward love and war, and Candida (1893). In 1897 The Devil's Disciple, on the American Revolution, was a success in New York City. It was published along with Caesar and Cleopatra (1899) and Captain Brassbound's Conversion (1900).

Shaw's major plays came in the next 15 years: Man and Superman (1905), on men, women, and marriage; Major Barbara (1905), arguing poverty as the root of all evil; and Androcles and the Lion (1912), satirizing Christianity. Pygmalion (1913) has been his most successful play. A satire on English class attitudes, it was the basis for the 1956 musical My Fair Lady. Of Shaw's later plays, Saint Joan (1923), a dramatic consideration of JOAN OF ARC, is best known. His most notable nonfiction work is probably The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928).

Concise Columbia Encyclopedia
Copyright (c) 1983, 1989
Columbia University press