George Bernard Shaw Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trivia (17)  | Personal Quotes (70)

Overview (3)

Born in Dublin, Ireland, UK [now Republic of Ireland]
Died in Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England, UK  (kidney failure)
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The Anglo-Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, acquired a reputation as the greatest dramatist in the English language during the first half of the 20th Century for the plays he had written at the height of his creativity from "Mrs. Warren's Profession" in 1893 to "The Apple Cart" in 1929. His works have been revived on Broadway from 1894 to 2010. His most famous work in the 21st Century is My Fair Lady (1964), the musical adaptation of Pygmalion (1938).

A Shavian drama (his reputation was so great, he had his own adjective ascribed to his works) had a biting social critique leavened by humor. According to his Nobel Prize citation, "His ideas were those of a somewhat abstract logical radicalism; hence they were far from new, but they received from him a new definiteness and brilliance. In him these ideas combined with a ready wit, a complete absence of respect for any kind of convention, and the merriest humor - all gathered together in an extravagance which has scarcely ever before appeared in literature."

He was a major international celebrity and a force in British politics, being a charter member of the Fabian Society. The Fabians were committed to democratic socialism, that is, using parliamentary mechanisms to encourage a gradual adoption of socialist policies through political reform rather than revolution.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Family (1)

Spouse Charlotte Payne-Townshend (1 June 1898 - 12 September 1943)  (her death)

Trivia (17)

Died from kidney failure, which was complicated by injuries he received after falling from a ladder, while he was trimming a tree on his estate.
Born at 12:30am-LMT.
Nobel Prize for Literature 1925.
First person to receive a Nobel Prize and an Oscar (Pygmalion (1938)). When songwriter Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, he became the second person.
Appears on sleeve of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club".
Is the great uncle of author, actor and filmmaker Scott Shaw.
Unlike other prominent authors, GBS refused to sell the screen rights to his plays, but would only license them for renewable five-year periods - thus his first major film, the successful Arms and the Man (1932) (for which he also wrote the screenplay, as he did the later Pascal productions - winning an Best Screenplay Oscar in 1938 for his adaptation of "Pygmalion") is today a "lost" film because its license was not renewed due to Shaw's feeling that by 1937 advances in sound technology made the 1932 sound too archaic.

With that exception, until 1938, film versions of his plays were either unauthorized by him or had not met with his approval. He supervised, wrote the screenplays for, and had creative control over three film versions of his plays-- the Pygmalion (1938), the Major Barbara (1941), and the Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). He agreed to cut some of the dialogue for the "Pygmalion", and it turned out to be the most cinematic of the three films that he was involved with, but he added entire scenes to "Major Barbara" while becoming more sensitive to the idea of having to cut his dialogue, and "Caesar and Cleopatra" was filmed intact, with only minor additions. "Caesar and Cleopatra" was the first authorized film of a Shaw play to receive some harsh criticism, but it has become a classic since its original release. Shaw also prepared a screenplay for his play, "Saint Joan", unproduced in his lifetime, but closely adapted by Graham Greene for the 1957 Otto Preminger production half a decade after Shaw's death.

Unfortunately, Shaw's system of five-year licenses, while not benefiting less high profile playwrights (and fortunately only resulting in one major lost Shaw film), inspired later copyright attorneys who used it as a template to license film clips to documentary and other film makers, making the reissue of older documentaries and films a nightmare of rights clearance issues.
When his house at Ayot St Lawrence became a museum his Oscar statuette was so tarnished the curator, believing it had no value, used it as a door stop.
Biography/bibliography in: "Contemporary Authors". Volume 105, pg. 371-378. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Inc., 1990.
He used the pseudonyms "GBS" and "Corno di Bassetto" as a columnist.
Shaw and his wife were vacationing at an English seaside resort when someone told them that Harpo Marx was nude-sunbathing, down on the beach. Shaw and his wife immediately went to the beach and surprised Marx in the act. This began their long friendship.
His will left a small fortune to be used to develop a precise English alphabet of 40 letters to replace the current one. Someone created it, but it never caught on.
A longtime friend of Harpo Marx.
His play, "Heartbreak House" at the Writers' Theatre in Chicago, Illinois was nominated for the 2011 Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Production of a Play (Large).
It is a common joke among fans of the Board Game "Trivial Pursuit" that "When in doubt, the answer is George Bernard Shaw!".
"Major Barbara" at the Mark Taper Forum Theatre was awarded the 1971 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Distinguished Production.
In 1914, shortly after the outbreak of WW1, he wrote a pacifist tract entitled "Common Sense About the War." Among other things, this argued that, if imperial Germany lost, it should not be humiliated and burdened vindictively with an immense war debt, as ultimately this would only lead to another global conflict.

Personal Quotes (70)

He who can, does. He who cannot teaches.
The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.
I'm only a beer teetotaller, not a champagne teetotaller.
Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done.
There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth.
I am a gentleman: I live by robbing the poor.
An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable.
Do not unto others as you would they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.
Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity.
Hell is full of musical amateurs: music is the brandy of the damned.
It's a woman's business to get married as soon as possible, and a man's to keep unmarried as long as he can
Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
Liberty means responsibility. That's why most men dread it.
Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.
The theory of legal procedure is that if you set two liars to expose one another, the truth will emerge.
Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody can read.
The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.
Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.
As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death.
Beauty is all very well at first sight, but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?
Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.
Don't waste time collecting other people's autographs; rather devote it to making your own autograph worth collecting.
The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is.
If you eliminate smoking and gambling, you will be amazed to find that almost all an Englishman's pleasures can be, and mostly are, shared by his dog.
The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
He treats a flower girl as if she was a duchess, and a duchess as if she was a flower girl.
We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance.
The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it.
A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of Hell.
There are scores of human insects who are ready at a moment's notice to reveal the will of God on every possible subject.
You have a choice between the natural stability of gold and the honesty and intelligence of the members of government. And with all due respect for those gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the capitalist system lasts, vote for gold.
Sister, you're trying to keep me alive as an old curiosity, but I'm done, I'm finished, I'm going to die.
"and there is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school. To begin with, it is a prison. But it is in some respects more cruel than a prison. In a prison, for instance, you are not forced to read books written by the warders (who of course would not be warders and governors if they could write readable books), and beaten or otherwise tormented if you cannot remember their utterly unmemorable contents. In the prison you are not forced to sit listening to the turnkeys discoursing without charm or interest on subjects that they don't understand and don't care about, and are therefore incapable of making you understand or care about. In a prison they may torture your body; but they do not torture your brains; and they protect you against violence and outrage from your fellow-prisoners. In a school you have none of these advantages. With the world's bookshelves loaded with fascinating and inspired books, the very manna sent down from Heaven to feed your souls, you are forced to read a hideous imposture called a school book, written by a man who cannot write: A book from which no human can learn anything: a book which, though you may decipher it, you cannot in any fruitful sense read, though the enforced attempt will make you loathe the sight of a book all the rest of your life."

"A Treatise on Parents and Children," preface to Misalliance (1909).
There is only one true happiness in life, to love and be loved.
When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth.
Life isn't about finding yourself; it's about creating yourself.
The average age (longevity) of a meat eater is 63. I am on the verge of 85 and still work as hard as ever. I have lived quite long enough and am trying to die; but I simply cannot do it. A single beef-steak would finish me; but I cannot bring myself to swallow it. I am oppressed with a dread of living forever. That is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism.
Sister, you're trying to keep me alive as an old curiosity, but I'm done, I'm finished, I'm going to die. (his last words)
[To Samuel Goldwyn] The trouble with you, Mr. Goldwyn, is that you're only interested in art, and I am only interested in money.
Not the least regard will be paid to American ideas except to avoid them as much as possible.
[on being awarded an Oscar for 'Pygmalion' in 1938] It's an insult for them to offer me any honor, as if they had never heard of me before - and it's very likely they never have. They might as well send some honor to George for being King of England.
[on being asked if that was he seen riding double with T.E. Lawrence] Good heavens, man, I've got a perfectly good motorcycle of my own. Lawrence's machine is such a great brute of a thing, and he goes so fast I doubt whether I could hold on. Probably, I'd be left sitting on the road.
[on dreams] Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why?' I dream things that never were and say, 'Why Not?'
[on why one shouldn't wrestle with pigs] You get dirty and, besides, the pig likes it.
Gossipers turn an earful into a mouthful.
Better see rightly on a pound a week than squint on a million.
It is sometimes necessary to make people laugh to prevent them from hanging you.
Success covers a multitude of blunders.
Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.
There are three things I'll never forget about America: the Rocky Mountains, Niagara Falls and 'Amos and Andy'.
My stories are the old stories; my characters are the familiar Harlequin and Colombine, clown and Pantaloon; my stage tricks and suspense and thrills and jests are the ones in vogue when I was a boy, by which time my grandfather was tired of them.
Whether Socrates got as much happiness out of life as Wesley is an unanswerable question. But a nation of Socrateses would be much safer and happier than a nation of Wesleys, and its individuals would be higher in the evolutionary scale. At all events it is in the Socratic man and not in the Wesleyan that our hope lies now.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
[on composer Johannesburg Brahms] Tiresomely addicted to dressing himself up as Handel...Too fundamentally addleheaded to make anything great out of the delicious musical luxuries he wallowed in.
How can what an Englishman thinks be heresy? It is a contradiction in terms!
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
The fact that a believer is happier than a non-believer is no more to the point than the fact that a drunkard is happier than someone who's sober.
Do not do unto others as you expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.
Communism, being the lay form of Catholicism, and indeed meaning the same thing, has never had any lack of chaplains.
When we wish to learn of the deeds done for love, we turn to the murder columns.
An actor who drinks is in a bad way, but an actor who eats is lost!
In Ireland they try to make a cat clean by rubbing its nose in its own filth. Mr. Joyce has tried the same treatment on the human subject.
Hatred is the Coward's revenge for being intimidated.
When you see what some women marry, you realize how much they hate working.
We need some Mad people, look where the Sane ones have got us!
I don't know if there are Men on the Moon, but if there are they must be using the Earth as a Lunatic Asylum.

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