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George Bernard Shaw.

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1 George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw ( ) Category:  Irish Literature Born:  July 26, 1856 Dublin, Ireland Died:  November 2, 1950 Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England

3 Biography(1) George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin on 26th July, His father, George Carr Shaw, a corn miller, was also an alcoholic and therefore there was very little money to spend on George's education. George went to local schools but never went to university and was largely self-taught. After working in an estate office in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in March, Shaw hoped to become a writer and during the next seven years wrote five unsuccessful novels. He was more successful with his journalism and contributed to Pall Mall Gazette. Shaw got on well with the newspaper's campaigning editor, William Stead, who attempted to use the power of the popular press to obtain social reform. In 1882 Shaw heard Henry George lecture on land nationalization. This had a profound effect on Shaw and 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. Shaw was convinced by the economic theories in Das Kapital but was aware that it would have little impact on the working class. He later wrote that although the book had been written for the working man, "Marx never got hold of him for a moment. It was the revolting sons of the bourgeois itself - Lassalle, Marx, Liebknecht, Morris, Hyndman, Bax, all like myself, crossed with squirearchy - that painted the flag red. The middle and upper classes are the revolutionary element in society; the proletariat is the conservative element."

4 Biography(2) 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 organisation that had been formed by Morris and Marx after a dispute with H. H. Hyndman, the leader of the SDF. George Bernard Shaw gave lectures on socialism on street corners and helped distribute political literature. On 13th November he took part in a demonstration in London that resulted in the Bloody Sunday Riot. However, he always felt uncomfortable with trade union members and preferred debate to action. By 1886, Shaw tended to concentrate his efforts on the work that he did with the Fabian Society. The society that included Edward Carpenter, Annie Besant, Walter Crane, Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb believed that capitalism had created an unjust and inefficient society. They agreed that the ultimate aim of the group should be to reconstruct "society in accordance with the highest moral possibilities".

5 Biography(3) The Fabian Society rejected the revolutionary socialism of the Social Democratic Federation and were concerned with helping society to move to a socialist society "as painless and effective as possible". This is reflected in the fact that the group was named after the Roman General, Quintus Fabius Maximus, who advocated the weakening the opposition by harassing operations rather than becoming involved in pitched battles. 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 including The Fabian Manifesto (1884), The True Radical Programme (1887), Fabian Election Manifesto (1892), The Impossibilities of Anarchism (1893), Fabianism and the Empire (1900) and Socialism for Millionaires (1901). In his pamphlets George Bernard Shaw argued in favour of equality of income and advocated the equitable division of land and capital. Shaw believed that "property was theft" and believed like Karl Marx that capitalism was deeply flawed and was unlikely to last. However, unlike Marx, Shaw favoured gradualism over revolution. In a pamphlet, that he wrote in 1897 Shaw predicted that socialism "will come by prosaic installments of public regulation and public administration enacted by ordinary parliaments, vestries, municipalities, parish councils, school boards, etc."

6 Biography(4) Shaw worked closely with Sidney Webb in trying to establish a new political party that was committed to obtaining socialism through parliamentary elections. This view was expressed in their Fabian Society pamphlet A Plan on Campaign for Labour. In 1893 Shaw was one of the Fabian Society delegates that attended the conference in Bradford that led to the formation of the Independent Labour 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 labour movement. On 27th February 1900 the Fabian Society joined with the Independent Labour Party, the Social Democratic Federation and trade union leaders to form the Labour Representation Committee (LRC). The LRC put up fifteen candidates in the 1900 General Election and between them they won 62,698 votes. Two of the candidates, Keir Hardie and Richard Bell won seats in the House of Commons. The party did even better in the 1906 election with twenty nine successful candidates. Later that year the LRC decided to change its name to the Labour Party.

7 LIFE STORIES(1) 4/21/1894 Shaw, Arms and the Man
4/21/1894    Shaw, Arms and the Man On this day in 1894 George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man opened. It was one of his earliest plays and the first commercial success in a sixty-five play, half-century career. On the strength of it Shaw was able to give up being a music critic and, at the age of forty, become a full-time playwright.

8 George Bernard Shaw, Freedom for Women (1891)
Unless 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 woman is now directly the slave of 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.

9 J. R. Clynes, Memoirs (1937) George Bernard Shaw agreed to take the chair for me at a Fabian Society meeting. The meeting was a great success. Shaw has always been a brilliant speaker as well as a provocative writer. During the early years of the Fabian Society he spoke constantly at public meetings, drawing crowded audiences. He always gave of his best, whether there were two thousand listeners or only twenty. That is the hallmark of the true artist.

10 Pygmalion Based on classical myth, Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion plays on the complex business of human relationships in a social world. Phonetics Professor Henry Higgins tutors the very Cockney Eliza Doolittle, not only in the refinement of speech, but also in the refinement of her manner. When the end result produces a very ladylike Miss Doolittle, the lessons learned become much more far reaching. The successful musical My Fair Lady was based on this Bernard Shaw classic.

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