Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by George Bernard Shaw. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
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.
Shaw's expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success. In 1938 he provided the screenplay for a filmed version of Pygmalion for which he received an Academy Award. His appetite for politics and controversy remained undiminished; by the late 1920s he had largely renounced Fabian Society gradualism and often wrote and spoke favourably of dictatorships of the right and left—he expressed admiration for both Mussolini and Stalin. In the final decade of his life he made fewer public statements, but continued to write prolifically until shortly before his death, aged ninety-four, having refused all state honours, including the Order of Merit in 1946.
Since Shaw's death scholarly and critical opinion about his works has varied, but he has regularly been rated among British dramatists as second only to Shakespeare; analysts recognise his extensive influence on generations of English-language playwrights. The word Shavian has entered the language as encapsulating Shaw's ideas and his means of expressing them.
The man with a toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound.
We sing in a church, why can we not dance there?
The savage bows down to idols of wood and stone the civilized man to idols of flesh and blood.
Decency is indecency's conspiracy of silence.
Decency cannot be discussed without indecency!
The roulette table pays nobody except him that keeps it. Nevertheless a passion for gaming is common, though a passion for keeping roulette tables is unknown.
In art, as in politics, there is no such thing as gratitude.
Love is the gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else.
Youth is such a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.
Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.
A man's interest in the world is only an overflow from his interest in himself.
When people shake their heads because we are living in a restless age, ask them how they would like to live in a stationary one, and do without change.
People exaggerate the value of things they haven't got: everybody worships truth and unselfishness because they have no experience with them.
Most people go to their grave with their music inside them.
Science, never solves a problem without creating ten more.
Independence? That's middle-class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.
Only fools repeat the same things over and over, expecting to obtain different results.
Hinduism is so elastic and subtle that the most profound Methodist and crudest Idolator are equally at home with it.
A good intention is like the seed of a tree whose fruit we do not know.
Every profession is a conspiracy against the laity.
This planet is obviously being used as an insane asylum by other planets.
Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books nobody reads.
In order to fully realize how bad a popular play can be, it is necessary to see it twice.
Martyrdom... is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.
You see things and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'
This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.
I have nothing to offer you but my strength for your defence, my honesty for your surety, my ability and industry for your livelihood, and my authority and position for your dignity. That is all it becomes a man to offer a woman.
Hell is full of musical amateurs.
Science is always wrong. It never solves a problem without creating ten more.
Animals are my friends, and I don't eat my friends.
When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport. When a tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity.
It is easy -- terribly easy -- to shake a man's faith in himself. To take advantage of that, to break a man's spirit is devil's work.
When you read a biography remember that the truth is never fit for publication.
Most of the money given by rich people in 'charity' is made up of conscience money, 'ransom,' political bribery, and bids for titles.... One buys moral credit by signing a cheque, which is easier than turning a prayer wheel.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
I'm not a teacher: only a fellow-traveller of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead- ahead of myself as well as you.
The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed but that he cannot believe anyone else.
In literature the ambition of the novice is to acquire the literary language: the struggle of the adept is to get rid of it.
The heart of an Irishman is nothing but his imagination.
People get tired of everything, and of nothing sooner than of what they most like.
Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody can read.
Here there is no hope, and consequently no duty, no work, nothing to be gained by praying, nothing to be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in short, is a place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself.
Hell is a place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself.
No man fully capable of his own language ever masters another.
Revelations: A curious record of the visions of a drug addict.
Boasting about modesty is typical of the English.
A conquered nation is like a man with cancer: he can think of nothing else.
The worst cliques are those which consist of one man.
A man's own self is the last person to believe in him, and is harder to cheat than the rest of the world.
My opportunities were still there, nay, they multiplied tenfold; but the strength and youth to cope with them began to fail, and to need eking out with the shifty cunning of experience.
I was convinced that Ceylon is the cradle of the human race because everybody there looks an original. All other nations are obviously mass produced.
We have in England a curious belief in first-rate people, meaning all the people we do not know; and this consoles us for the undeniable second-rateness of the people we do know.
Decency is indecency's conspiracy of silence.
There is always danger for those who are afraid.
Truth telling is not compatible with the defence of the realm.
Just as I cannot remember any time when I could not read and write, I cannot remember any time when I did not exercise my imagination in daydreams about women.
No sooner had Jesus knocked over the dragon of superstition than Paul boldly set it on its legs again in the name of Jesus.
A book is like a child: it is easier to bring it into the world than to control it when it is launched there.
The road to ignorance is paved with good editors.
We educate one another; and we cannot do this if half of us consider the other half not good enough to talk to.
When a prisoner sees the door of his dungeon open, he dashes for it without stopping to think where he shall get his dinner outside.
The trouble with the media is that it seems unable to distinguish between the end of the world and a bicycle accident.
Nobody could stand an eternity of Heaven.
What is wrong with the prosaic Englishman is what is wrong with the prosaic men of all countries: stupidity.
There is nothing so bad or so good that you will not find Englishmen doing it; but you will never find an Englishman in the wrong. He does everything on principle.
What really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering.
Vitality is a woman is a blind fury of creation.
If women were particular about men's characters, they would never get married at all.
In gambling the many must lose in order that the few may win.
A man's behaviour may be quite harmless and even beneficial, when he ismorally behaving like a scoundrel. And he may do great harm when he is morally acting on the highest principles.
Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it.
Our ideals, like the gods of old, are constantly demanding human sacrifices.
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
Imprisonment, as it exists today, is a worse crime than any of those committed by its victims.
I can't talk religion to a man with bodily hunger in his eyes.
If you demand my authorities for this and that, I must reply that only those who have never hunted up the authorities as I have believe that there is any authority who is not contradicted flatly by some other authority.
It is the inefficiency and sham of ... our schools ... that save us from being dashed on the rocks of false doctrine instead of drifting down the midstream of mere ignorance.
Indifference is the essence of inhumanity.
Common sense is instinct. Enough of it is genius.
There are scores of thousands of human insects who are ready at a moment's notice to reveal the Will of God on every possible subject.
If you do not say a thing in an irritating way, you may as well not say it at all because people will not trouble themselves about anything that does not trouble them.
The Jews generally give value. They make you pay; but they deliver the goods. In my experience the men who want something for nothing are invariably Christians.
Some persons, by hating vice too much, come to love men too little. Hatred is self-punishment. Hatred is the cowards revenge for being intimidated.
Hate is the revenge of a coward intimidated.
Though all society is founded on intolerance, all improvement is founded on tolerance.
I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.
Only Lawyers and mental defectives are automatically exempt for jury duty.
Worst of all, there is no sign of any relaxation of antisemitism. Logically it has nothing to do with Fascism. But the human raceis imitative rather than logical; and as Fascism spreads antisemitism spreads.
Martyrdom is the only path to immortality that requires no talent whatsoever.
It is ridiculous to say that art has nothing to do with morality. What is true is that the artist's business is not that of the policeman.
We don't bother much about dress and manners in England, because as a nation we don't dress well and we've no manners.
Money is the most important thing in the world. It represents health, strength, honor, generosity, and beauty as conspicuously as the want of it represents illness, weakness, disgrace, meanness, and ugliness.
I loathe the mess of mean superstitions and misunderstood prophecies which is still rammed down the throats of children under the name of Christianity.
He never does a proper thing without giving an improper reason for it.
We must not stay as we are, doing always what was done last time; or we shall stick in the mud.
A healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man of his bones. But if you break a person's nationality it will think of nothing else but getting it set again.
Marry Ann; and at the end of a week you'll find no more inspiration in her than in a plate of muffins.
My own education has been entirely controversial: that is why I know what I am writing about; and appear eccentric to dogmatically educated Old School Ties whose heads are stuffed with obsolete shibboleths.
Principles without programs are platitudes.
A man's interest in the world is only an overflow from his interest in himself.
Quotes by George Bernard Shaw are featured in:
Common Sense Quotes