Nobel Prize Recipient. George Bernard Shaw received international notoriety as an Irish-born author, who received the 1925 Nobel Prize in literature. According to the Nobel Prize committee, his coveted award was given "for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty." Starting in 1911, he received seven Nobel Prize nominations. He refused all British honors, including the Order of Merit in 1946. Born in Ireland to an English family, who lived in “genteel poverty” for years, he moved to London at the age of twenty. He had very little formal education, but was an avid reader and self-taught. In London he established himself as a leading music and theatre critic for the last two decades of the 1800s. He wrote volumes of musical reviews and 150 articles on theater. He became a prominent member of the Fabian Society, for which he composed many pamphlets promoting social change. Known for his piercing wit and devastating exposure of hypocrisy, he was highly individualistic. Politically, he was a keen supporter of the Communist movement and was a staunch vegetarian. Although his first five novels were not published when written, his first published novel was “The Quintessence of Ibsenism” in 1891 and remains a classic in the 21st century. A fragmental piece from his earlier days, “An Unfinished Novel” was published posthumously in 1958. Writing over sixty plays, one of his earliest plays was “Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant” in 1898. His list of plays included "Man and Superman" in 1903, "Heartbreak House" in 1919, "Back to Methuselah" in 1921, "Saint Joan” in 1923, "Apple Cart" in 1928, and at the author’s age of 92, "Buoyant Billions" in 1948. His Hollywood productions included "Caesar and Cleopatra" in 1945 starring Vivien Leigh, Claude Rains and Stewart Grainger, which was an adaption of his 1901 novel by the same name. An adaption of his 1912 novel, "Pygmalion,” won him an Oscar for best screenplay in 1938. Later, the piece was adapted into the popular musical “My Fair Lady” in 1958 and a film in 1964, Following his death in 1950, Shaw was cremated with his ashes being mixed together with those of his wife, Charlotte Payne-Townshend who had died in 1943, and scattered in the garden of his home, Shaw's Corner. He had lived there from 1906 until his death. The house, which now is in the care of the National Trust, was opened to the public on March 17, 1951 by the actress Dame Edith Evans. Shaw’s complete works appeared in thirty-six volumes between 1930 and 1950, the year of his death. He helped to mold the world’s view of politics, economics, and sociological thoughts of three generations.
Bio by: Linda Davis