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Short Biography of George Bernard Shaw

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George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was a famous Irish dramatist. He was also a critic and novelist, and an early member of the socialist Fabian Society.

His plays combine comedy with political, philosophical, and polemic aspects, aiming to make an impact on his audience's social conscience as well as their emotions. They include Arms and the Man (1894), Devil's Disciple (1897), Man and Superman (1905), Pygmalion (1913), and Saint Joan (1924). He won the Nobel prize in 1925.

Born in Dublin, the son of a civil servant, Shaw came to London in 1876, where he became a brilliant debater and supporter of the Fabians, and worked as a music and drama critic. He wrote five unsuccessful novels before in 1892 his first play, Widowers' Houses, was produced. Attacking slum landlords, it allied him w ith the realistic, political, and polemical movement in the theatre, pointing to people's responsibility to improve themselves and their social environment.

The volume Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant in 1898 also included The Philanderer; Mrs. Warrens Profession, dealing with prostitution and banned until 1902; and Arms and the Man about war. Three Plays for Puritans in 1901 contained The Devil's Disciple, Caesar and Cleopatra (a companion piece to the play by Shakespeare), and Captain Brassbound's Conversion, written for the actress Ellen OTerry. Man and Superman in 1903 expounds his ideas of evolution by following the character of Don Juan into hell for a debate with the devil.

The "anti-romantic" comedy Pygmalion, first performed in 1913, was written for the actress Mrs. Patrick QCampbell (and later converted to a musical as My Fair Lady). Later plays included Heartbreak House in 1917, Back to Methuselah in 1921, and the historical Saint Joan in 1924.

Altogether Shaw wrote more than 50 plays and became a byword for wit. His theories were further explained in the voluminous prefaces to the plays, and in books such as The Intelligent Woanan's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism in 1928. He was also an unsuccessful advocate of spelling reform and a prolific letter-writer.


Tags: dramatist, critic, novelist, socialist, prolific



Category: Others  - ( Others Archive)

Date Added: 18 June '12


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