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A CHRONOLOGY OF SHAW'S LIFE
Provided by A. M. Gibbs, whose A Bernard Shaw Chronology (Palgrave, 2001) is the most complete and authoritative available. For other online chronologies, see http://bingweb.binghamton.edu/~ccarpen/shaw.htm and “Online Criticism & Biography” at http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~dietrich/shawbizness.html .
“SHAW’S LIFE: SOME KEY EVENTS”
1856 George Bernard Shaw born on 26 July at
1866 The Shaw family begins sharing houses at
various schools in
1873 Leaving her husband and son in lodgings in
1876 Resigns his post in
1876-82 Writes five novels and has occasional
1884 Joins the recently established Fabian Society, and becomes one of its leading members and most effective public spokesperson. Spends much time during the 1880s and 1890s as a ‘platform spellbinder’, regularly lecturing at numerous venues on socialist topics.
1885 Surrenders his virginity on his 29th birthday to a passionate Irish widow, Mrs Jane Patterson, a friend of the Shaw family. Their stormy affair continues until 1893, and is complicated by Shaw’s other affairs with women including May Morris, Annie Besant, Eleanor Marx Aveling (daughter of Karl Marx), Edith Nesbit (Mrs Bland), young Fabians Grace Gilchrist and Grace Black, and actress Florence Farr. His relationship with the latter was the only one, apart from that with Jane Patterson, to be sexually consummated.
1885-8 Becomes a regular book-reviewer for the Pall Mall Gazette, and writes music and art criticism for various periodicals
1888 Becomes music critic for The Star, inventing the pen-name Corno-di-Bassetto.
1892 Shaw’s first publicly performed play Widowers’ Houses presented by the Independent Theatre Company.
1892-1900 Shaw completes all seven of the plays in the Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant group and his Three Plays for Puritans.
1894 Opening night (21 April) at the Avenue
Theatre of Arms and the Man the first of Shaw’s plays to have immediate
theatrical success. After the performance Shaw delivers his famous reply to a
man who utters a single boo from the gallery amidst the laughter and cheers
from the rest of the audience. ‘My dear fellow I quite agree with you, but what
are we two against so many.’ The play is successfully presented in the
1895 Beginning of Shaw’s famous epistolary romance with actress Ellen Terry, and of Shaw’s appointment as theatre critic for the Saturday Review.
1898 Marries Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a wealthy Irish heiress and supporter of
socialist causes and feminism, born in
1901-03 Shaw composes his ‘Comedy and Philosophy’ Man and Superman in which he first gives expression to his ‘religion’ of Creative Evolution and ideas about the Life Force.
1904-7 Principal playwright in the Vedrenne-Barker seasons at the Court Theatre,
1912 Falls in love with actress Stella (Mrs Patrick) Campbell, who will create the role of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion. The affair with Stella comes close to physical consummation and threatens Shaw’s marriage.
1914 Opening on 11 April of first English
production of Pygmalion, the play having been first performed in German
Publication in November as a Special War Supplement to the New Statesman of Shaw’s hard-hitting pamphlet Common Sense About the War. The controversial work creates an uproar and temporary ostracism from some circles for Shaw.
1916-17 Writes Heartbreak House, and in 1917
visits the war zone in
1920 Completes his five-play cycle on evolutionary themes, Back to Methuselah.
1923 Completes Saint Joan, which is first
presented in December by the Theater Guild at the Garrick
Theater, New York, and has its
1925 Nobel Prize for Literature (awarded 1926).
1928 Publication of The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism, a major political work written for Shaw’s sister-in-law.
1929 Career as a dramatist resumes with ‘Political Extravaganza’ The Apple Cart, in which his affair with Stella Campbell is recalled. This work inaugurates the Malvern Festival, in which plays by Shaw become the major attractions in its future years. He continued writing plays until the last year of his life.
1931 Shaw makes a celebrated visit to
1933 In one of a series of international
voyages on ocean liners in the 1930s with his wife Charlotte, Shaw makes his
first visit to
1934 The Shaws visit
1938 Première of Gabriel Pascal and Anthony Asquith’s film version of Pygmalion, starring Leslie Howard as Henry Higgins and Wendy Hiller as Eliza Doolittle.
1941 Première of Gabriel Pascal’s film of Major Barbara. The star-studded cast includes Robert Morley as Undershaft, Wendy Hiller as Major Barbara, Rex Harrison as Cusins, and Robert Newton as Bill Walker. Deborah Kerr made her screen debut in the film in the role of Jenny Hill.
1943 Death of Shaw’s wife Charlotte, after suffering for a long period of time from osteitis deformans, a chronic bone disease.
1945 The Shaw house ‘Shaw’s Corner’ in the tiny
1946 Made a Freeman of
1949 Writes a puppet play Shakes versus Shav for presentation at the Malvern Festival which had been revived after a break during World War 2. Publishes a collection of autobiographical essays, several of them revised versions of earlier pieces, entitled Sixteen Self Sketches.
1950 Writes his last play Why She Would Not in
July. In September he has a fall while attempting to prune a tree in the garden
1956 Loewe and Lerner’s musical My Fair Lady, an adaptation of Shaw’s Pygmalion, opens and runs for more than nine years.