George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic. Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society and became its most prominent pamphleteer. Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes that included Major Barbara, The Doctor’s Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra.

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

The longer I live, the more convinced am I that this planet is used by other planets as a lunatic asylum.

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.

Write your Sad times in Sand, Write your Good times in Stone.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

Don’t lose faith. Promise yourself that you will be a success story, and I promise you that all the forces of the universe will unite to come to your aid; you might not feel today or for a while, but the longer you wait the bigger the prize.

No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.

Experience fails to teach where there is no desire to learn.

The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

Those who can’t change their minds can’t change anything.

Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.

Don’t wait for the right opportunity: create it.

Life is a first draft… with NO rewrite.

The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.

The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.

Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.

Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.

It is not enough to know what is good: you must be able to do it.

The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.

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