Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1950, died George Bernard Shaw.

Shaw was a literary critic, socialist, vegetarian and comic dramatist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Shaw came from a background of genteel poverty in Dublin. He left for London aged twenty to become a writer. He wrote five novels in quick succession, all of which were rejected. In 1895, Shaw took a post as music critic on the Star newspaper and became a local councillor in St Pancras, taking a principal role in the Fabian Society. In 1895, Shaw was employed as a drama critic on The Saturday Review, a step that led to a lifetime career as a dramatist.  

Shaw had produced ten plays, much acclaimed for comic genius, before the outbreak of The First World War, at which time he devoted himself exclusively to opposing the war. His controversial pamphlet, Common Sense about The War, accused Britain of being as culpable as Germany for the occurrence of the war. His antiwar speeches made Shaw the target of great criticism.  

After the war, Shaw’s dramatic mood changed. He wrote a series of plays, condemning war in general and expounding his philosophy of creative evolution. Also, in Saint Joan, some say Shaw’s masterpiece, Shaw explores the theme that Church and State, and humanity for that matter, unwittingly conspire to destroy saints and heroes.   

Shaw was famous for his witticisms. Here are just a few:

·  The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.

·   Youth is wasted on the young.

·   My way of joking is to tell the truth. It’s the funniest joke in the world.

·   Most people would rather die sooner than think. In fact they do.

·   Lack of money is the root of all evil. 

Shaw died in 1950. In his will he made a bequest to fund the creation of a phonetic alphabet, but before his death, Shaw had, quite wisely, spent all his money. However, a small amount was made available from the royalties of My Fair Lady, a musical based on Shaw’s Pygmalion.

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