George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Irish dramatist, literary critic, a socialist spokesman, and a leading figure in the 20th century theater. Bernard Shaw was a freethinker, defender of women's rights, and advocate of equality of income. In 1925 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Shaw accepted the honour but refused the money.
"Just as the historian can teach no real history until he has cured his readers of the romantic delusion that the greatness of a queen consists in her being a pretty woman and having her head cut off, so the playwright of the first order can do nothing with his audience until he has cured them of looking at the stage through the keyhole, and sniffing round the theatre as prurient people sniff round the divorce court." (from G.B. Shaw's preface in Three Plays by Brieux, 1911)
George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, where he grew up in something close to genteel poverty. "I am a typical Irishman; my family came from Yorkshire," Shaw once said. His father, George Carr Shaw, was in the wholesale grain trade. Lucinda Elisabeth (Gurly) Shaw, his mother, was the daughter of an impoverished landowner. She was 16-years younger than her husband. George Carr was a drunkard â€“ his example prompted his son to become a teetotaller. When he died in 1885, his children and wife did not attend his funeral. Young Shaw and his two sisters were brought up mostly by servants. Shaw's mother eventually left the family home to teach music, singing, in London. When she died in 1913, Shaw confessed to Mrs. Patrick Campbell: "I must write to you about it, because there is no one else who didn't hate her mother, and even who doesn't hate her children."
In 1866 the family moved to a better neighborhood. Shaw went to the Wesleyan Connexional School, then moved to a private school near Dalkey, and from there to Dublin's Central Model School. Shaw finished his formal education at the Dublin English Scientific and Commercial Day School. At the age of 15, he started to work as a junior clerk. In 1876 he went to London, joining his sister and mother. Shaw did not return to Ireland for nearly thirty years.
A day's work is a day's work, neither more nor less, and the man who does it needs a day's sustenance, a night's repose and due leisure, whether he be painter or ploughman.
#A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.
#A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.
#A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
#A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it; it would be hell on earth.
#Americans adore me and will go on adoring me until I say something nice about them.
#An American has no sense of privacy. He does not know what it means.There is no such thing in the country.
#Criminals do not die by the hands of the law. They die by the hands of other men.
#Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
#England and America are two countries separated by a common language.
#Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.
#Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.
#Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich--something for nothing.
#Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.
#Hell is full of musical amateurs.
#I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.
#I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.
If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.
If the lesser mind could measure the greater as a footrule can measure a pyramid, there would be finality in universal suffrage. As it is, the political problem remains unsolved.
If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
Lack of money is the root of all evil.
Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.
Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.
Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman. Believing what he read made him mad.
Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed but that he cannot believe anyone else.