George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, literary critic and a social reformer. He accepted the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925. He was born on July 26, 1856 in a lower-middle class family, in Dublin, Ireland. He was the third child and the only son of George Carr Shaw, a corn miller, and Lucinda Elisabeth (Gurly) Shaw a professional singer and a voice teacher. The family didn’t have very much money to send George to the best private school or university. He attended several regular schools in his hometown in Dublin. George developed a profound knowledge of music, art and literature which originated from his mother’s influence and a few of his visits to the National Gallery of Ireland.
When George was 15, his mother decided to leave his father taking her two daughters to pursue her singing and music teaching career in London. George stayed behind and worked as a junior clerk for an estate office to support his father and himself. In 1876, he finally convinced himself to leave Dublin and his father and join his mother and sisters in London. His mother and his older sister had established a successful music career for them in London. When his father died in 1885, he didn’t attend the funeral, and neither did his mother and his surviving sister (the other sister had died previously). While in London, George had high hopes of becoming a writer, but unfortunately he continually experienced frustration and poverty. He depended heavily on his mother to help him financially. He spent a lot of his time in libraries and in the British Museum reading room writing novels and educating himself. He soon joined other public street speakers and gave lectures on socialism standing on soapboxes on street corners. He quickly became one of the most sought after public speakers in England. He wrote “Fabian Manifest”, “Fabianism and the Empire” and “Socialism for Millionaire” and many other articles. He tried to have his written work published but every publisher in London continuously rejected the writings.
His first success started on September 17, 1894 after he wrote “Arms and the Man” which was presented on the American soil at the Herald Square Theater in New York by Richard Mansfield. His work began to quickly take off especially in the U.S. theatre and worldwide. Gradually, he started to reach popularity and fame but not yet in English Theater until ten years later around 1904. He became one of the most magnificent journalists in London. Some of his greatest works for the stage are “Caesar and Cleopatra”, “the Don Juan in Hell”, Episode of “Man and superman”, “Heartbreak house” and many more. In 1898, George decided to cease working as a theatre critic and marry Charlotte Payne Townsend, a wealthy Irish woman. It’s been said that his marriage to his wife Charlotte was no more than a platonic relationship. Anyhow, they stayed married until her death in 1943. Being a celebrity, George continued to be involved in local and international politics, writing plays and travelling the world. He visited the Soviet Union having been invited by Stalin himself.
George Bernard Shaw had lived a long and prosperous life. He died in 1950 at the age of 94. He died from complications of his injuries caused by falling from a ladder while pruning a tree on his property at Ayot St. Lawrence in Hetfordshire outside of London.