George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin of Protestant Irish stock on July 26, 1856. His mother, Lucille Elizabeth (Bessie) Gurly, was a talented amateur singer, and his father, George Carr Shaw, was a corn trader. Shaw was the third and youngest child (and only son) of his parents. Technically, he belonged to the Protestant ‘ascendancy’ – the landed Irish gentry – but his impractical father was first a sinecured civil servant and then an unsuccessful grain merchant.
George Bernard Shaw grew up in an atmosphere of genteel poverty, which to him was more humiliating than being merely poor.
He had two elder sisters, Lucille Frances (Lucy) who became a singer, and Elinor Agnes (Yuppy), who died of T.B. in 1876 at the age of 21.
Shaw later complained that he hated Dublin, that his home life had been unhappy and felt neglected. Of his father, he wrote that he was, in principle, an ardent teetotaler.
Unfortunately, his conviction in this matter was founded on personal experience. He was the victim of drink neurosis – a miserable affliction quite unconvincing and accompanied by torments of remorse and shame.
Of his mother, he wrote, "Technically speaking, I should say she was the worst mother conceivable, always, however, within the limits of the fact that she was incapable of unkindness….she went her own way with so complete a disregard and even unconsciousness of convention and scandal and prejudice, that it was impossible to doubt her good faith and innocence."
When he was too young, so many times he visited slums with his servant. She also took him into the public house bars where he was regaled with lemonade and ginger beer, but he did not enjoy it because his father’s eloquence on the evil of the drink had given him an impression that a public house was a wicked place where he should not have been taken.
LEARNING AT SCHOOL
At first tutored by a clerical uncle, Shaw basically rejected the schools which he later attended, and by the age of 16, he was working in a estate agent’s office. His education was irregular due to his dislike for any organized training. After working in an estate agent’s office for a while, he moved to London as a young man. (1876) where he established himself as a leading music and theatre critic and became a prominent member of the Fabian Society for which he composed many pamphlets.
Both in church and at Sunday school, he was taught to believe that God was a Protestant and a gentleman. All Roman Catholics would go to hell when they died, neither of which beliefs placed the Almighty in a very favorable light. Certain doctrines aroused his immediate antagonism. On one occasion, the raising of Lazarus was described by the boy’s maternal uncle as a clever ruse on the part of Jesus who had arranged with Lazarus to sham death and then come to life at the right moment. This view of the incident appealed to Shaw’s sense of humor.
His secular education was equally senseless. It began with a governess. He knew more Latin grammar than any other boy in the First Latin Junior, to which he was relegated and which after few years he had forgotten most of it. At the age of ten, he entered in the Wesleyan Connexional School (now Wesley College) of Dublin, where he remained for a while and was labelled a total failure as a schoolboy. In his memory, school was worse than a prison. He was famous in the school as a first-class liar.
At home his growth was unimpeded by discipline.
As a child he had to find his way in a household where there was neither hate nor love, fear nor reverence, but always personality. He was a romanticist which could be attributed to his early love for literature.
"I cannot learn anything that does not interest me. My memory is not indiscriminate : it rejects and selects; and its selections are not academic. I have no competitive instinct nor do I crave for prizes and distinctions. Consequently, I have no interest in competitive examinations.
I am firmly persuaded that every unnatural activity of the brain is as mischievous as any unnatural activity of the body, and that pressing people to learn things they do not want to know is as unwholesome and disastrous as feeding them on sawdust."
He further asserted that even "experience fails to teach, where there is no desire to learn.
"He came to the conclusion that schools existed for the sake of the parents, who did not wish to be plagued with their children’s curiosity, yet were anxious to keep them out of mischief for the sake of the masters, who had to earn their living; and for the sake of the institutions themselves because they made money out of the pupils. He was still quite positive that he had learned absolutely nothing at school, that school had only interrupted his real education, and imprisoned him.
awoke each morning and saw the strips of sunshine between the window shutters, he jumped out of bed, opened it and read in bed until he was called. He grappled with Dickens ‘Great Expectations’ at about the same time and gained his first knowledge of the French revolution from a Tale of Two Cities. He gained his knowledge of English history from Shakespeare as he learned French history from Dumas.
One Sunday afternoon, Shaw’s father turned up with a mild fit on the doorstep. Gone was his theory of teetotalism. Then his father do promised that he would stop drinking.
He did so and remained sober for the rest of his life. But even then he could not evoke the sympathy of his wife. In 1872 she broke up and went to London with her two daughters. Mrs. Shaw was anxious to earn a living as a music teacher. One of her daughters had died shortly after leaving Ireland. She died of T.B. in 1876 at the age of 21, and the other was a promising singer. And the family hoped that with Lee’s assistance she would become a prima donna.
Bernard Shaw and his father settled in lodgings in Dublin. When his mother sold the household furniture and went for London, she left the family piano behind. After his mother’s departure, Bernard Shaw suddenly found out that there was no music in the house and there would be none unless he made it himself.
So he began to teach himself how to play the piano
IN SEARCH OF LIVELIHOOD
At the age of thirteen an effort was made to turn him into source of income because his father was losing a battle in a decaying business and the family was getting poorer. He didn’t get a job in the firm of cloth merchants because he was too young for the job. After two years because of the influence of an uncle (a family friend) he got a job in the firm of estate agents and became a first-class clerk at the age of 18. For four years he remained a model cashier, detesting the job as much as any other person and his salary was £ 84 at his twentieth year. His employers had such a high opinion of his honesty and diligence so much that they could not have guessed the measure of his discontent. His objection to a business career had been due to the associated boredom. He was genuinely really interested in music, painting and literature.
He never thought to become what is called a great man. One day in his office he had a shock when an apprentice remarked that every young man thought he was going to be a great man.
This remark gave him such a jolt that suddenly he became aware that he had never thought that he was to be a great man, simply because he had always taken it as a matter of chance. The incident passed without leaving any distinct pondering to hamper his thought. And he remained as indifferent as ever because he was still as incompetent. But he doubted whether he would ever recover his former complete innocence of subconscious intention to devote himself to the class of work that only a few men excel in and to accept the responsibilities that are attached to its dignity. It followed as a matter that he had to leave Dublin. He said, "London was the literary center for the English language and for such artistic culture as the realm of the English language (in which I proposed to be king) could afford. There was no Gaelic League in those days, nor any sense that Ireland had in herself the seed of culture.
FABIAN SOCIETY MEMBER
In 1881 he became a vegetarian and spoke of meat eating as cannibalism. He had three main objections for a non-vegetarian diet. Firstly it was hateful, secondly flesh eating was socially harmful and thirdly it was the question of health and strength. He said : "A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses. "Shaw joined in 1884 the Fabian Society – a middle class socialist group – which also attracted H.G. Wells. He served on its executive committee from 1885 to 1911.
As a public speaker, Shaw gained the status of one of the most sought - after orators in England.
Several times Shaw was asked to stand for parliament, but he knew he could do better work outside it. He said, "Better a leader of Fabiansim than a chorus-man in parliament." Besides he was so outspoken that he could never win votes.
He never planned or plotted a play in advance. Having got the main idea, he sat down to write and stuck confidently to inspiration, never seeing a page ahead while writing and also never knowing what was going to happen.
HIS FIRST PLAY
Shaw called his first play ‘Unpleasant’, because the dramatic power that was used for a spectator was to face unpleasant facts. Thereafter he wrote four ‘Pleasant’ plays. Both groups of plays were revised as ‘Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant’.
In 1890, Shaw gave a lecture on Ibsen to the Fabian Society and was behind a movement to produce the play ‘Ghosts’ which in 1891, was produced privately by the Independent Theatre Society, as it could never hope for public production because of the censorship rules.
J.T.Grein, the founder of the Society, asked Shaw to write a play. As a result he wrote the play, ‘Widower’s Houses’ (1892
IN THE MUSICAL FIELD
The musical activity of his family was the most important part of Shaw’s education. His other partnership with Lee had a tremendous effect on his life. Operas, concerts and oratories were constantly being conducted and before he was fifteen, he knew by heart many works by the great masters from Handel to Beethoven to Verdi and Gounod and could whistle them, and sing them in a language, that would have been mistaken for Italian by an Irishman and for Irish by an Italian. Above all this, he loved Mozart, whose Opera- Don Giovanni taught him how to write seriously. That lesson was the most important part of his education and it educated him artistically in all sorts of ways and disqualified him only in one that of criticizing Mozart fairly. It was through music that he became skeptical concerning the teachings of the Church and the religion of gentility inculcated by his father. Music was very important and nothing else was of any importance in his family. Shaw was taken to the Opera at an age when most boys go for their first pantomime.
He said that he didn’t know what an Opera was, though he could whistle a good deal of Opera music.
Shaw’s musical culture was derived entirely from the serious activities of his mother and Lee. Though his father’s family was comparatively illiterate, musically, they had very strongly influenced him. He felt that the glories unfolded to him in every direction were his personal possession forever, like the books he had read, the music he had heard, the pictures he had seen; and thus was his voluntary education completed.
Shaw’s first reported public speech was made in January 1885, before the Industrial Remuneration Conference, at which the Fabian Society represented by two delegates, emerged from its drawing room obscurity.
FORMATION OF TUC
In 1893 Shaw was one of the Fabian Society delegates who attended the conference in Bradford that led to the formation of the Independent Labor Party. Three years later, Shaw produced a report for the Trade Union Congress (TUC) that suggested a political party that had strong links with the trade union movement. In 1899 Shaw served on the TUC committee that looked into the best way to mobilize the political power of the Labor movement.
In 1884, he met Sidney Webb at the Fabian Society, and joined him in his attempt to make Socialism respectable. Shaw became famous as a socialist agitator, public speaker all over London, once or twice a week for the next 12 years. He spoke on political or social questions and this experience influenced his plays.
Shaw met William Archer, who gave him a job as an art critic in the flourishing weekly review of the world."He didn’t know much more about painting than I," said Archer, "but he thought he did and that was the main point.
"Shaw’s reviews were observant, sensible and limited. His music criticism was regarded as having greater intrinsic value and was enlivened by his sardonic wit. Under the name of Corno-di-Bassetto he made himself famous as a music critic for the star (1888-90).
From 1879-1903, Shaw was a councilor for the London Borough of St. Pancras, getting practical experience of social problems in local government. All his life he remained interested in questions of social reform. His plays and novels attacked slum landlords, prostitutes, the subjugation of women and street labor.
JULY 26, 1856 G. Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin.
MARCH, 1876 Shaw moved to London.
1879 Shaw became a councilor for the London Borough of St. Pancras.
1881 Shaw fell in love with Alice Lockett.
1882 Shaw was deeply affected by the lecture of Henry George on land nationalization.
1884 He joined the Fabian Society. He became vegetarian.
1887 He wrote ‘The True Radical Programme’.
1890 He gave a lecture on Ibsen to the Fabian Society.
1891 His play ‘Ghost’ was produced privately by the Independent Theatre Society.
1892 He wrote ‘The Fabian Election Manifesto.’
1893 He being one of the Fabian delegates, attended the conference in Bradford.
1897 Shaw favored gradualism over revolution. His play ‘Devil’s Disciple’ was staged in New York.
1898 Shaw married Charlotte Payne. His play ‘Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant’ was published.
1900 He wrote ‘Fabianism and the Empire’.
1902 He wrote a play ‘Man and Superman’ with the political theme.
1904 He wrote a play ‘John Bull’s Other Island’.
1905 He wrote a play ‘Major Barbara’ which dealt with issues like poverty and women’s rights.
1914 Shaw opposed Britain’s involvement in First World War. He created controversy by provoking pamphlet on ‘Common Sense About War.’
1923 He wrote the play ‘St. Joan’.
1925 Shaw was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature.
1929 He wrote the play ‘Apple Cart’.
1931 Shaw visited Russia. He met Stalin and Mrs. Krupskaya, the widow of Lenin.
1932 He visited South Africa with his wife, while travelling they met with an accident.
1933 Shaw visited United States of America and addressed the audience at Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
1938 His play ‘Pygmalion’ was filmed.
1940-1941 He wrote one of the screenplays ‘Major Barbara’.
1945 He wrote ‘Caesar and Cleopetra’.
NOV., 1950 Shaw died at the age of 94
Eventually, in 1885 the drama critic William Archer found in Shaw a steady journalist. His early journalism ranged from book reviews in the Pall Mall Gazette (1885-88) and art criticism in The World (1884-89) to brilliant musical columns in the Star (as "Corno-di-Bassetto" – basset horn) and from 1888 to 1890 and in the world (as "G.B.S.") from 1890 to 1894. Shaw truly began to make his mark when he was recruited by Frank Harris to the
‘Saturday Review’ as a theatre critic (1895-98); In that position, he used all his wit and polemical powers in a campaign to displace the artificialities and hypocrisies of the Victorian stage with a theatre of vital ideas. He also began writing his own plays.
George Bernard Shaw wrote several plays with political themes. This included Man and Superman (1902), John Bull’s Other Island, (1904) and Major Barbara (1905). These plays dealt with issues such as poverty and women’s rights and implied that Socialism could help solve the problems created by Capitalism. Shaw’s status as a playwright continued to grow after the war and plays such as Heartbreak House (1919); Back to Methuselah (1921); Saint Joan (1923); The Apple Cart (1929); and Too True to be Good (1932); were favorably received by the critics and in 1925 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
Shaw continued to write books and pamphlets on political and social issues. This included The Crime of Imprisonment (1922); Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism (1928); and Everybody’s Political What’s What (1944). He remained committed to the socialist cause until his death on November 2, 1950. Since the days of the silent films, Shaw had been a fan of motion pictures. He several screenplays among others, Saint Joan (1927), How He Lied to Her Husband’ (1931), Arms and the Man (1932), Pygmalion (1938) and Major Barbara (1941). During his long career, Shaw wrote over 50 plays.
FREEDOM FOR WOMEN
George Bernard Shaw wrote Freedom for Women (1891). Unless a woman repudiates her womanliness, her duty to her husband, to her children, to society, to the law, and to everyone but herself, she cannot emancipate herself. It is false to say that a woman is now directly the slave of a man; she is the immediate slave of duty, and as man’s path to freedom is strewn with the wreckage of the duties and ideals he has trampled on, so must hers be.
In 1881, Shaw fell in love with Alice Lockett and his wooing of her lasted for three years. This was the beginning of a series of "philanders" as he called them.
Shaw married Charlotte Payne Townshend, a wealthy Irish woman and fellow Fabian in 1898. They both were in their forties. Neither wished to marry, but Shaw, under the misapprehension that he was to die, proposed to her. It was an unorthodox, but happy-probably celibate-marriage that lasted until Charlotte’s death in 1943.
He came to believe from his own experience that imagining love played a more important part in life than real love, for the imagination beggared reality and personal contact was a poor substitute for the dreams women could so easily evoke. Annie Beasant who was the strong supporter of India’s freedom movement and founder of ‘The Theosophical Society of India was not a woman to be neglected or trifled with. Shaw insisted on their relations being put on a serious footing.
But her husband was alive and she could not marry him, she made a contract setting on which they were to live together as husband and wife. He read it and said, "this is worse than all the vows of all the Churches on the earth. I had rather be legally married to you ten times over".
SHAW AND SOCIALISM
It was in September 1882 that Shaw, aged 26, found Henry George preaching Land Nationalization and the Single Tax. This had a profound effect on Shaw and it helped to develop his ideas on Socialism. Shaw now joined the Social Democratic Federation and its leader, H. H. Hyndman, introduced him to the works of Karl Marx. "Off I went to the British Museum, where I read ‘Das Kapital.’ That was the turning point in my career. Marx was a revelation. He opened my eyes to the facts of history, and civilization gave me an entirely new conception of the universe; it provided me with a purpose and a mission in life.
"From the moment that Shaw imbibed the gospel according to Karl Marx, he began to preach it on every possible occasion, under every sort of condition, though as time went on, he corrected the errors in Marx’s economic creed and worked out the distinctively British brand of Socialism known as Fabianism. In short, wherever he could get his foot in, and soon found himself in such demand as a principal speaker, that he was never at a loss for want of a platform.
Shaw became an active member of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) and became friends with others in the movement including William Morris, Eleanor Marx, Annie Besant, Walter Crane, Edward Aveling and Belfort Bax. In May 1884 Shaw joined the Fabian Society, and the following year, the Socialist League, an organization that had been formed by Morris and Marx, after a dispute with H. H. Hyndman, the leader of the SDF. In 1886, Shaw tended to concentrate his efforts on the work that he did with the Fabian Society.
They agreed that the ultimate aim of the group should be to reconstruct "society in accordance with the highest moral possibilities".
The Fabian Society rejected the revolutionary socialism of the SDF and were concerned with helping society to move to a socialist society, "as painless and effective as possible". The Fabian group was a "fact-finding and fact-dispensing body" and they produced a series of pamphlets on a wide variety of different social issues. Many of these were written by Shaw.
In his pamphlets, Shaw argued in favor of equality of income and advocated the equitable division of land and capital.
LITERARY WORK IN LONDON
In 1879, at the age of 20 when he came to London, he found that his mother was trying to earn a livelihood by teaching and his sister by singing. Throughout various aspects of his nature in articles which he sent to all the leading papers and which were regularly returned by them with pleasure or as they expressed it with regret. One which dealt with "Christian Names" was published by G. R. Sims in his paper "One and All". In this article, the first of his innumerable bits of journalism finally came out in print.
Shaw advised parents not to give their children pompous or stupid Christian names. He received $ 15 for this article and he started to write something much better. It was apparently too much better because it’s return was followed by the paper’s demise perhaps from the effect of his brilliant contribution on the editorial staff. He earned all together £ 6 with his pen during 1876 –1885 nine years £ 5 for writing a patent – medicine advertisement and £ 5 for turning out some verses intended as a parody but taken seriously, commissioned by a fellow – lodger.
While pursuing a career in journalism and writing most of two years, he educated himself at the British Museum. He began his literary career by writing music and drama criticism and five novels during the years of 1879-1883. They are written in the classical style and natural exuberance, though there are occasional touches of this peculiar humor. For example in his first novel Immaturity he pictures the youthful hero Smith walking in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey with an air of deep appreciation and he explains why the young man is so deeply appreciative.
His second novel was The Irrational Knot which like its predecessor, contains several good touches. The third novel Love Among the Artists, was his most carefully considered and individual novel. In this novel, he worked on the old Shakespearean trick of making the woman go all out for the man, while the hero modelled on Beethoven. This novel marks a cardinal turning point in Shaw’s development. The first two are confidently rationalistic.
Cashel Byron’s Profession was the fourth one which can almost be described as a thriller.
He was interested in watching boxing-matches which made him study the subject in British Museum’s reading room and eventually produced this book. It was felt by him to be a streak of original sin. He said about this novel, " I never think of Cashel Byson’s Profession" without a shudder at the narrowness of my escape from becoming a successful novelist at the age of twenty-six, at that moment an adventurous publisher might have ruined me." This novel was serialized in the socialist magazine called "Today", then put on the market in a Shilling edition and duly pirated in America, making a lot of money for everyone concerned except the author, who wrote it for his own amusement, but soon regretted that he had given way to such a boyish frolic : "The glove fight and the conventional lived-happy-ever-afterwards ending, to which I had never previously condescended, exposed me for the first time to the humiliation of extravagantly favorable reviewing and numbering my readers in some thousands. But long before this my self-respect took alarm at the contemplation of the things I had made.
I resolved to give up mere character sketching and at once to produce a novel which should be a gigantic grapple with the whole social Problem." His fifth novel was An unsocial Socialist.
Shaw had no success with his novels. He sent them to publishers in England and America also and collected about sixty refusals. The five heavy brown-paper parcels came and went, each of them raising with it the reappearance of the great financial question of to how to get a sixpence to post it on to another publisher.
For the first nine years of his life in London, his mother, who was working as a music teacher, somehow kept her son alive.
From 1876 to 1885 he scarcely put his nose outside London and had to wear the same suit. He was poor. Once he bought a book titled How to live on sixpence a Day. The circumstances of that time forced him to carry out its instructions seriously and he lived for some time on sixpence a day.
He wrote in one of his dramatic criticisms in 1896 : "My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably…………….Literature is the only genteel profession that has no livery ……………. and so. I chose literature. You, friendly reader, though you buy my articles, have no idea of what I look like in the street…………." His poverty during those nine years was such that for two acute moments he walked the streets in broken boots and a pair of trousers with holes worn in the seat, hidden by a tailed coat whose color was gradually turned from black to green; with cuffs, whose edges were trimmed by the scissors and a tall hat so limp with age that he had to wear it back–to–front to enable him to take it off without doubling up the brim. His main recreations were to visit the National Gallery and Hampton Court. He made a second home of the reading room in the British Museum. He studied all the books on etiquette. Especially he was grateful to the author of The Manners and Jones of Good Society. After the deaths of Lee and Cecil Lawson, he cut himself off completely from the artistic and social life of London and decided after lunching at the Savile Club that he would never be a literary man or consort with such people. He said that he might have to spend his life sitting watching these fellows.
• "Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman, but believing what he read made him mad."
• "A lifetime of happiness ! No man alive could bear it; it would be hell on earth."
• "I assume that to prevent illness in later life, you should never have been born at all."
• "I like flowers, I also like children, but I do not chop their heads and keep them in bowls of water around the house."
• "Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream of things that never were and ask why not."
• "When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work."
• "Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week."
• "There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it."
• "Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy."
• "Am reserving two tickets for you for my premiere. Come and bring a friend – if you have one. "(G.B.S. to Winston Churchill)"
• "The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech."
• "I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would be an affront to your intelligence."
• "There is no satisfaction in hanging a man who does not object to it."
• "There is no satisfaction in hanging a man who does not object to it."
• "I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one’s business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in his courtship. I like a state of continual becoming with a goal in front and not behind."
• "Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possibly handing it on to the future generations."
• "The more things a man is ashamed of the more respectable he is."
• "All great truths begin as blasphemies."
• "Those who can do. These who cannot teach."
• "If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they would still not reach a conclusion."
• "The lack of money is the root of all evil."
• "Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use." (G.B.S.’s principle).
• "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."
• "People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them."
• "Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness but it is greatness."
• "There are two tragedies in life; one is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it."
• "Manners are more important than laws and upon them, to a great deal, the law depends…"
• "England and America are two countries divided by a common language."
• The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
• "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
• "A man who is not a communist at the age of twenty is a fool. Any man who is still communist at the age of thirty is an even bigger one."
• "Democracy is a form of Government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few."
• "Every person who has mastered a profession is a skeptic concerning it."
• "He’s a man of great common sense and good taste, meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage."
• "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it."
• "It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid."
• "It is most unwise for people in love to marry."
• "Martyrdom is the only way a person can become famous without ability."
• "Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it."
• "Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous."
• "Virtue is insufficient temptation."
• "A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition and art into pedantry. Hence University education."
• A man learns to skate by staggering about making a fool of himself. Indeed he progressed in all things by making a fool of himself."
• "A man ought to be able to be fond of his wife without making a fool of himself about her."
• "A moderately honest man with a moderately faithful wife, moderate drinkers both, in a moderately healthy house : that is the true middle-class unit."
• "A pessimist thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it."
• "Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life."
• "All progress means war with society."
• "An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable."
• As an old soldier I admit the cowardice : it’s as universal as sea sickness, and matters just as little."
• "As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death."
• "Assassination is the extreme form of censorship."
• "Baseball has the great advantage over cricket of being ended sooner."
• "Beauty is all very well at first sight; but whoever looks at it when it has been in the house three days ?"
• "Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world."
• "Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire."
• Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve."
• "Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics."
• "Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated."
• "We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skin."
• "Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it."
• "He [the Briton] is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and islands are the laws of nature."
• "All evolution in thought and conduct must at first appear as heresy and misconduct
• When an apparent miracle happened…it proved divine mission to the credulous, and proved a contract with the devil to the skeptical."
• "……. that no woman will look twice at a bust of her husband if its hair is not properly brushed."
• "Affection between adults (if they are really adult in mind and not merely grown up children) and creatures so relatively selfish and cruel as children necessarily are without knowing it or meaning it, cannot be called natural."
• "All Russia would have been abashed and silenced had all Russia been presented."
• "…… I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite. But only a friend in human form could have invented the noble prize."
• "In a hospital they throw you out into the street before you are half cured, but in a nursing home they don’t let you out till you are dead
• Democracy means the organization of society for the benefit and at the expense of everybody indiscriminately and not for the benefit of a privileged class."
• "There is only one belief that can rob death of its sting and the grave of its victory…… for without that you cannot be born again."
• "As a teacher of Greek I gave the intellectual man weapons against the common man. I now want to give the common man weapons against the intellectual man."
• "Bad theaters are as mischievous as bad schools."
• "Under exciting circumstances, wealth cannot be enjoyed without dishonor, or foregone without misery."
• "The established government has no more right to call itself the state than the smoke of London has to call itself the weather."
• Government is not every body’s job. It is a highly skilled vocation."
• "It is only natural that a man should have established friendly relationship with the wives of his friends, but if he is wise he quits all ideas of sex out of the question."
• "Better a leader of Fabianism than a chorus man in parliament."
• "I write plays because I like it and because I cannot remember any period in my life when I could have been inventing people and scenes. I am not primarily a story teller : things occur to me first as seems with action and dialogue as moments, developing themselves out of their own vitality."
• "….. do not forget that all marriages are different and that a marriage between two people followed by parentage cannot be lumped in with a childless partnership between two middle age people who have passed the age at which it is safe to bear a first child."
• "What I say today everybody will say tomorrow, though they will not remember who put it into their heads. Indeed they will be right for I never remember who puts things into my head : it is the Zeitgeist."
• "Do you not think that the naturalness of the representation must be destroyed and therefore your own pleasure greatly diminished, when the audience insists on taking part in it by shouts of applause and laughter and the actor have to repeatedly stop acting until the noise is over ?"
• "……. in all good plays tears and laughter lie very close together."
• "…… when there is no such conflict of comic and tragic on the stage the strain of performing is greatly increased if the performers have to attend to the audience as well as their parts at the same time."
• "…. If you laugh loudly and repeatedly for two hours, you get tired and cross and are sorry next morning that you did not stay at home."
• "…Certainly we have transferred the faith from God to the General Medical Council." [to oppose compulsory vaccination.
• "A genius is a person who is seeing further and probing deeper than other people has a different set of ethical valuations from their and has energy enough to give effect to this extra vision and its valuations in whatever manner best suits his or her specific talents."
• "Experience fails to teach where there is no desire to learn."
• "I am very sorry, but I cannot learn languages. I have tried hard, only to find that men of ordinary capacity can learn Sanskrit in less time that it takes me to buy a German Dictionary."
• "In a prison you are not forced to read books written by the warders and the governor, and beaten or otherwise tormented if you cannot remember their utterly unmemorable contents. In the prison you are not forced to sit listening to 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."
• "…… I flatly declare that a man fed on whisky and dead bodies cannot do the finest work of which he is capable."
• "Man is unique in that he has plans, purpose and goals which require the need for criteria of choice. The need for ethical value is within man whose future may largely be determined by the choice he make."
• "…. Education can and should do much influence social, moral and intellectual discovery by stimulating critical attitudes of thought in the young."