Who was George Bernard Shaw?
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and political activist, who used wit and satire to challenge social and political inequalities, over a long and productive life. He was hugely prolific, writing nearly 60 plays, over 250,000 letters and untold numbers of articles and pamphlets. During his lifetime he was one of the most photographed and most quoted men in the world - his words and opinions are still deeply relevant today.
A writer is born...
George Bernard Shaw was born on 26 July 1856 in the shabby Dublin suburbs, the youngest son of the unhappily married and down-at-heel grain merchant George Carr Shaw and Lucinca Elizabeth Gurly.
Charlotte Payne-Townshend was a suffragist, a translator, a socialist and a patron of the arts - she also happened to be married to George Bernard Shaw from 1898 until her death, aged 86 in 1943.
A Circle of Friends
From William Morris to Danny Kaye, via T.E.Lawrence and Virgina Woolf, Shaw was a deeply influential friend and supporter of poets, painters and playwrights, adventurers, actors and explorers.
George Bernard Shaw timeline
1856 Shaw is born in Dublin on July 26
1876 Moves to London
1884 Joins the newly formed Fabian Society
1892 First play Widowers' Houses is performed
1898 Marries Charlotte Payne-Townshend
1906 Moves to Shaw's Corner
1917 Visits the Western Front
1926 Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature
1938 Pygmalion wins Oscar for Best Screenplay
1950 Dies aged 94 at Shaw's Corner
'If you are going to tell the truth...'
Shaw's plays, saturated with socialist thought, revolutionised late Victorian and Edwardian theatre as he brought great inequalities and unfairness of Society into the bright lights of the stage.
'...you had better make them laugh.'
Humour runs through all of Shaw's plays and all of his letters. He remains famous for the wit of his writing and the way that he used laughter to bring home the most serious of ideas and hopes.
Nine of our favourite GBS plays
Mrs Warren's Profession (1893)
Arms and the Man (1894)
Man and Superman (1904)
Major Barbara (1906)
Androcles and the Lion (1912)
Heartbreak House (1919)
Back to Methusulah (1921)
St Joan (1923)