George Bernard Shaw Quotes
George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion and Saint Joan. With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation. He was the first person to be awarded both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award, receiving the 1925 Nobel Prize in Literature and sharing the 1938 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film version of Pygmalion.
Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1873, where he established himself as a writer and novelist. By the mid-1880s he was a respected theatre and music critic. Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society and became its most prominent pamphleteer. Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, 1894's Arms and the Man. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes that included Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra.
Shaw's expressed views were often contentious: he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform while opposing vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable. He castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period, and became a citizen of the Irish Free State in 1934, maintaining dual citizenship. He was prolific, finishing during the inter-war years a series of often ambitious plays which achieved varying degrees of popular success. His appetite for politics and controversy remained undiminished; by the late 1920s he had largely renounced Fabian gradualism and often wrote and spoke favourably of dictatorships of the right and left—he expressed admiration for both Mussolini and Stalin. In the final decade of his life, he made fewer public statements, but continued to write prolifically until shortly before his death, aged 94, having refused all state honours, including the Order of Merit in 1946.
Since Shaw's death, opinion has varied about his works. He has at times been rated as second only to William Shakespeare among English-language dramatists; analysts recognise his extensive influence on generations of playwrights. The word "Shavian" has entered the language as encapsulating Shaw's ideas and his means of expressing them.