Born in Dublin in 1856 to a middle-class Protestant family bearing pretensions to nobility (Shaw's embarrassing alcoholic father claimed to be descended from Macduff, the slayer of Macbeth), George Bernard Shaw grew to become what some consider the second greatest English playwright, behind only Shakespeare. Others most certainly disagree with such an assessment, but few question Shaw's immense talent or the play's that talent produced. Shaw died at the age of 94, a hypochondriac, socialist, anti-vaccinationist, semi-feminist vegetarian who believed in the Life Force and only wore wool. He left behind him a truly massive corpus of work including about 60 plays, 5 novels, 3 volumes of music criticism, 4 volumes of dance and theatrical criticism, and heaps of social commentary, political theory, and voluminous correspondence. And this list does not include the opinions that Shaw could always be counted on to hold about any topic, and which this flamboyant public figure was always most willing to share. Shaw's most lasting contribution is no doubt his plays, and it has been said that "a day never passes without a performance of some Shaw play being given somewhere in the world." One of Shaw's greatest contributions as a modern dramatist is in establishing drama as serious literature, negotiating publication deals for his highly popular plays so as to convince the public that the play was no less important than the novel. In that way, he created the conditions for later playwrights to write seriously for the theater.
Of all of Shaw's plays, Pygmalion is without the doubt the most beloved and popularly received, if not the most significant in literary terms. Several film versions have been made of the play, and it has even been adapted into a musical. In fact, writing the screenplay for the film version of 1938 helped Shaw to become the first and only man ever to win the much coveted Double: the... [continues]
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