George Bernard Shaw 1856–1950
George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin where he attended Wesley College, a day-school, until he was fifteen; he moved to London in 1876. He worked as a journalist, reviewing art, music and plays, and became a public speaker, a well-known wit and a polemicist for the Fabians. His first play, Widowers’ Houses, was performed in 1892; his seventh, John Bull’s Other Island, was his first London success, in 1907. He wrote more than fifty plays. Major Barbara, first performed in London in 1905, Androcles and the Lion, in Hamburg in 1913, Pygmalion, in Vienna in 1913, Heartbreak House, in New York in 1920, Saint Joan, in New York in 1923, and The Apple Cart, in Warsaw in 1929, are among the best. The following scene from Major Barbara, which presents a conflict between the spiritual faith of Barbara, a Major in the Salvation Army, and the secular shrewdness of her millionaire father, shows Shaw’s ability to dramatise ideas with theatrical flair and liveliness; he had little interest in character. He published his plays with long explanatory prefaces. Collected Plays, with their Prefaces was issued in seven volumes between 1970 and 1974.
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