George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856, he hated school and upon leaving education he took up a job as clerk in an estate office for several years, but he found that he was equally as unhappy. In 1876, he moved to London, his mother provided him with a pound a week while he frequented public libraries and the British Museum where he studied earnestly and began writing. Influenced by his reading, he became a dedicated Socialist and a member of the Fabian Society.

He met wealthy heiress Charlotte-Payne-Townshend in these political circles and married her in 1898. His plays began to be performed in the 1890s but it was not until a production of John Bull's Other Island (1904) that Shaw gained wide popularity in England .

By the 1910s, Shaw was a well established playwright – Fanny's First Play (1911) and Pygmalion (1912) had long runs in front of large London audiences. Shaw's views changed dramatically during World War One which he had bitterly opposed losing many fans and indeed friends in the process.

His first work after the war was Heartbreak House (1919) revealing a new Shaw, still witty but obviously with a dwindling faith in humanity. His Saint Joan (1923) was an international hit after which he failed to achieve the same commercial or critical success.

He is the only person to have been awarded both the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Academy Award (1938). In his old age he was a household name both in Britain and Ireland, he died in 1950 at the age of ninety-four.

Source by Russell Shortt

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