Pygmalion is a 1912 play by George Bernard Shaw, named after a Greek mythological character of the same name.
Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney... More > flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech. The play is a sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system of the day and a commentary on women's independence.< Less
Saint Joan is a play by George Bernard Shaw, based on the life and trial of Joan of Arc. Published not long after the canonization of Joan of Arc by the Roman Catholic Church, the play dramatises... More > what is known of her life based on the substantial records of her trial. Shaw studied the transcripts and decided that the concerned people acted in good faith according to their beliefs. He wrote in his preface to the play:
There are no villains in the piece. Crime, like disease, is not interesting: it is something to be done away with by general consent, and that is all [there is] about it. It is what men do at their best, with good intentions, and what normal men and women find that they must and will do in spite of their intentions, that really concern us.< Less
After the death of her father, Ann Whitefield becomes the joint ward of two men: the respectable Roebuck Ramsden and John Tanner, author of ‘The Revolutionist’s Handbook’. Believing... More > marriage would prevent him from achieving his higher intellectual and political ambitions, Tanner is horrified to discover that Ann intends to marry him, and flees to Spain with the determined young woman in hot pursuit. The chase even leads them to the underworld, where the characters’ alter egos discuss questions of human nature and philosophy in a lively debate in a scene often performed separately as ‘Don Juan in Hell’. In Man and Superman, Shaw combined seriousness with comedy to create a satirical and buoyant exposé of the eternal struggle between the sexes.< Less
Written in 1883, An Unsocial Socialist was published in 1887. The tale begins with a hilarious description of student antics at a girl's school then changes focus to a seemingly uncouth laborer who,... More > it soon develops, is really a wealthy gentleman in hiding from his overly affectionate wife. He needs the freedom gained by matrimonial truancy to promote the socialistic cause, to which he is an active convert. Once the subject of socialism emerges, it dominates the story, allowing only space enough in the final chapters to excoriate the idle upper class and allow the erstwhile schoolgirls, in their earliest maturity, to marry suitably.< Less
Major Barbara is a three act play by George Bernard Shaw, written and premiered in 1905 and first published in 1907. An Officer of The Salvation Army, Major Barbara Undershaft, becomes disillusioned... More > when her Christian denomination accepts money from an armaments manufacturer (her father) and a whisky distiller. She eventually decides that bringing a message of salvation to people who have plenty will be more fulfilling and genuine than converting the starving in return for bread.< Less
Cashel Byron's Profession is George Bernard Shaw's fourth novel. The novel was written in 1882 and after rejection by several publishers it was published in serialized form in a socialist magazine.... More > The novel was later published as a book in England and the United States. Shaw wrote five novels early in his career and then abandoned them to pursue politics, drama criticism and eventually play writing. The Admirable Bashville (1901), a short play based loosely on this novel, was written to protect American copyrights after the novel became unexpectedly successful in the United States.< Less