George Bernard Shaw


Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist, George Bernard Shaw (26th July, 1856 – 2nd November, 1950) was born in Portobello, Dublin and at the age of twenty moved to London in 1876.

Following a process of educating himself, George became a respected theatre and music critic by the mid 1880’s. He became a prominent pamphleteer with the gradualist ‘Fabian Society’ following a political awakening. He was outspoken on his views particularly in opposition to vaccination and organised religion yet expressed admiration for Mussolini and Stalin.

He was married for forty five years to Charlotte Payne Townsend from 1898 until her passing in 1943.

George wrote more than sixty plays over his career including well-known ‘Pygmalion’ which was in 1912. ‘Arms and the Man’ became his first success in 1894. He used his plays to publicise his political, social and religious ideas. The end of the twentieth century fortified his career as a dramatist with public successes in dramas such as ‘Caesar and Cleopatra’

George was awarded the ‘Nobel Prize in Literature’ in 1925, an ‘Academy Award’ for ‘Pygmalion’ in 1938, and was a co-founder of the ‘London School of Economics and Political Science’. However he refused all state honours including, during the latter stage of his life in 1946, the ‘Order of Merit’.

He gives a speech at the ‘Joint British Committee Authors Day Dinner’ in London in honour of well-known physicist Professor Albert Einstein in this clip; where he describes some men as “makers of the universe”.

Also this shortened interview, a two minute clip; where George talks frankly about the filming of his play ‘Pygmalion’ – 1939.

Most recently Gabriel Byrne explored the life and times of George on an RTÉ documentary ‘My Astonishing Self’. Watch ‘My Astonishing Self: Gabriel Byrne on George Bernard Shaw on RTÉ Player link; which includes an innovative revolving garden room on George’s home ground.