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George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

 

Irish author and playwright, George Bernard Shaw, was a strict vegetarian and openly criticised humans for their consumption of meat, describing them as the “living graveyards of murdered beasts”.

Shaw wrote over 60 plays in his lifetime and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925. He was born in 1856, in Dublin, Ireland. In 1876 he moved to London, where he wrote regularly but struggled financially. Despite the time he spent writing his novels, they were widely rejected by publishers. He soon turned his attention to politics and the activities of the British intelligentsia, joining the Fabian Society in 1884. The Fabian Society was a socialist group whose goal was nothing short of the transformation of England through a more vibrant political and intellectual base, and Shaw became heavily involved, even editing a famous tract that the group published (Fabian Essays in Socialism, 1889). The year after he joined the Society, Shaw landed some writing work in the form of book reviews and art, music and theatre criticism, and in 1895 he was brought aboard the Saturday Review as its theatre critic. It was at this point that Shaw began writing plays of his own. His first plays were published in volumes titled "Plays Unpleasant" (containing Widowers' Houses, The Philanderer and Mrs. Warren's Profession) and "Plays Pleasant" (which had Arms and the Man, Candida, The Man of Destiny, and You Never Can Tell).

Toward the end of the 19th century, Shaw created some of his most revered plays, Caesar and Cleopatra (written in 1898), and Man and Superman (1903), whose third act, "Don Juan in Hell," achieved a status larger than the play itself and is often staged as a separate play entirely. While Shaw would write plays for the next 50 years, the plays written in the 20 years after Man and Superman would become foundational plays in his oeuvre. Works such as Major Barbara (1905), The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), Androcles and the Lion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923) all firmly established Shaw as a popular dramatist of his day and as a writer deeply interested in the issues of his time and of history.

In 1912, Shaw wrote his most famous play: Pygmalion, which was transferred to the big screen in 1938. Shaw won an Academy Award for the screenplay. Since he had won the 1925 Nobel Prize in Literature, his Oscar win made him the only person to receive both awards. Pygmalion went on to further fame when it was adapted into a musical and became a hit, first on the Broadway stage (1956) with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, and later on the screen (1964) with Harrison and Audrey Hepburn.

Shaw died in 1950 at age 94 while working on yet another play.

 

Why should you call me to account for eating decently? If I battened on the scorched corpses of animals, you might well ask me why I did that.
George Bernard Shaw