Last Updated on June 20, 2020
Even as we grow older, our love for stories never goes away. We owe the beautiful stories that we know today to our beloved authors and playwrights. One of them is George Bernard Shaw. He received a lot of achievements in his lifetime, including the much sought-after Nobel Prize.
Here are a few facts about George Bernard Shaw:
On July 26, 1856, George Bernard Shaw was born into this world. He was born in the lower middle-class part of Dublin, in an area called Portobello. He was the youngest and the only son of George Carr Shaw and his wife Lucinda Elizabeth. Their family was of English descent and belonged to the ruling Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. However, his father was unsuccessful and had problems with alcoholism.
When George Bernard Shaw was little, his mother developed a relationship with George John Lee, a respected figure in Dublin’s musical scene. Shaw idolized Lee so much that he developed an obsession that Lee was his biological father. As a young boy, Shaw received very little attention from his mother. To cope, he immersed himself in music.
The Shaws prided themselves on their passion for music. Their house held a lot of events that involved music. Their frequent visitors were singers and other artists.
In 1862, Lee shared houses with the Shaws. One of their houses was in a highly maintained area in Dublin and the other was a cottage overlooking Killiney Bay, which Shaw fell in love with. He received a lot of books from Lee’s students, which introduced him to literature.
Shaw attended four different schools, but he hated them. He didn’t like being a schoolboy, and later wrote that schools and schoolmasters were “prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them from disturbing and chaperoning their parents.” He left school to apply as a junior clerk in a land agent firm. He worked hard and was quickly promoted to head cashier.
Lee left for London in June 1873 and never came back. Shaw’s mother followed Lee due to financial constraints, while Shaw stayed with his father and taught himself how to play the piano. Three years later, Shaw learned that his sister was dying of tuberculosis. He left his job and followed his mother, and did not return to Ireland for 29 years.
His Journey to Becoming a Writer
To help his mother with the expenses, Shaw insisted on getting a job. He became a ghostwriter for a musical column and published under Lee’s name. Lee’s relationship with Shaw’s mother eventually deteriorated, but he remained in contact with Shaw. He later on found him a job as a pianist and singer.
Shaw began looking for office jobs. He got a reader’s pass for the British Museum Reading Room and spent most of his time reading and writing there. His first attempt at writing a drama was left unfinished. His first completed novel Immaturity was too dark to be published and did not surface until the 1930s. He then got employed by the Edison Telephone Company and was soon promoted.
However, when the company merged with its rival, the Bell Telephone Company, he opted not to stay. He became a full-time author instead. For four years, he received minimal compensation, but his mother helped him get by.
His Involvement with Politics
His early novels were failures. Because of this, he turned to politics and joined the socialist group Fabian Society. Shaw became deeply involved, and he began editing their political essays.
A year after this, he landed a writing job that focused on book and art reviews, and theater and music criticism. In 1985, he was hired as a theater critic for the Saturday Review.
At this point, Shaw started to write his own plays. His first plays, Plays Unpleasant and Plays Pleasant, were published in volumes. They were both filled with his wit and his subtle social criticisms. These plays may not be his best ones, but they were his stepping stones to a fruitful career.
The Start of His Long and Illustrious Career
With his talent and signature wit, Shaw’s writing skills began to be noticed. In 1903, his play Man and Superman, particularly its third act entitled “Don Juan in Hell,” reached a lot of readers and became one of his foundational plays.
He was able to write more than 60 plays, including Major Barbara, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Pygmalion, Androcles and the Lion, Back to Methuselah, Jitta’s Atonement, and Saint Joan, to name a few. In 1925, George Bernard Shaw received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In 1950, Shaw passed away while working on another play. His works will forever be an inspiration to us, most especially to our budding young writers. Here are a few quotes from George Bernard Shaw that will bring out the writer in you:
George Bernard Shaw Quotes
“The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Common people do not pray; they only beg.” – George Bernard Shaw
“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” – George Bernard Shaw
“There is nothing that can be changed more completely than human nature when the job is taken in hand early enough.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Clever and attractive women do not want to vote; they are willing to let men govern as long as they govern men.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Youth, which is forgiven everything, forgives itself nothing: age, which forgives itself everything, is forgiven nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Youth is such a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Even the youngest of us may be wrong sometimes.” – George Bernard Shaw
“It is all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date.” – George Bernard Shaw
“The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time.” – George Bernard Shaw
“You must not suppose, because I am a man of letters, that I never tried to earn an honest living.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap.” – George Bernard Shaw
“The only way for a woman to provide for herself decently is for her to be good to some man that can afford to be good to her.” – George Bernard Shaw
“The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I of dream things that never were, and say, ‘Why not?’” – George Bernard Shaw
“Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Virtue consists, not in abstaining from vice, but in not desiring it.” – George Bernard Shaw
“The only alternative to excitement is irritability.” – George Bernard Shaw
“I was a freethinker before I knew how to think.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Though I can make my extravaganzas appear credible, I cannot make the truth appear so.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself thinking once or twice a week.” – George Bernard Shaw
“It is difficult, if not impossible, for most people to think otherwise than in the fashion of their own period.” – George Bernard Shaw
“I don’t want to talk grammar. I want to talk like a lady.” – George Bernard Shaw
“A nap, my friend, is a brief period of sleep which overtakes superannuated persons when they endeavor to entertain unwelcome visitors or to listen to scientific lectures.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Decency is indecency’s conspiracy of silence.” – George Bernard Shaw
“There are no secrets better kept than the secrets everybody guesses.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Science is always wrong, it never solves a problem without creating ten more.” – George Bernard Shaw
“What is the matter with the poor is poverty; what is the matter with the rich is uselessness.” – George Bernard Shaw
“The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Science becomes dangerous only when it imagines that it has reached its goal.” – George Bernard Shaw
“No question is so difficult to answer as that which the answer is obvious.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny: they have only shifted it to another shoulder.” – George Bernard Shaw
“I feel nothing but the accursed happiness I have dreaded all my life long: the happiness that comes as life goes, the happiness of yielding and dreaming instead of resisting and doing, the sweetness of the fruit that is going rotten.” – George Bernard Shaw
“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.” – George Bernard Shaw
“All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions.” – George Bernard Shaw
“You cannot have power for good without having power for evil too. Even mother’s milk nourishes murderers as well as heroes.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.” – George Bernard Shaw
“The nations’ morals are like its teeth, the more decayed they are the more it hurts to touch them.”
“The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Man is the only animal of which I am thoroughly and cravenly afraid of.” – George Bernard Shaw
“A miracle is an event which creates faith. That is the purpose and nature of miracles.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Frauds deceive. An event which creates faith does not deceive: therefore it is not a fraud, but a miracle.” – George Bernard Shaw
“If women were as fastidious as men, morally or physically, there would be an end of the race.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Reminiscences make one feel so deliciously aged and sad.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity.” – George Bernard Shaw
“It is a woman’s business to get married as soon as possible, and a man’s to keep unmarried as long as he can.” – George Bernard Shaw
“The man who listens to Reason is lost: Reason enslaves all whose minds are not strong enough to master her.” – George Bernard Shaw
“We want a few mad people now. See where the sane ones have landed us!” – George Bernard Shaw
“In literature the ambition of the novice is to acquire the literary language: the struggle of the adept is to get rid of it.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Leisure does what it likes, labor does what it must, the compulsion being that of Nature, which in these latitudes leaves men no choice between labor and starvation.” – George Bernard Shaw