Unconventional Genius: The Untold Story of George Bernard Shaw’s Success


George Bernard Shaw is widely recognized as one of the greatest playwrights of all time. His works, including “Pygmalion” and “Saint Joan”, have left a lasting impact on the world of literature and theatre. However, what many people do not know is that Shaw’s success did not come from traditional means, making him an unconventional genius.

Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856, Shaw grew up in a lower-middle-class family. He received a basic education and left school at the age of 14 to work. Despite not having a formal education, Shaw spent most of his free time at the library, educating himself on various subjects such as music, art, and philosophy.

At the age of 20, Shaw moved to London and struggled to make a living as a writer. He wrote several pieces, mostly social and political commentary, but they were all rejected by publishers and newspapers. It wasn’t until he joined the Fabian Society, a socialist organization, that Shaw found his voice and started to gain recognition as a writer.

Shaw’s unorthodox ideas and beliefs were the driving force behind his success. He was a staunch advocate for women’s rights, universal suffrage, and the abolition of private property. His plays often tackled controversial topics and challenged societal norms, which made them stand out in the conservative Victorian era.

One of his most famous plays, “Mrs. Warren’s Profession”, addressed the taboo subject of prostitution and the unequal treatment of women in society. Despite facing public outrage and censorship, Shaw remained steadfast in his beliefs and refused to compromise his work. This boldness and fearlessness set him apart from other writers of his time and contributed to his success.

Another factor that contributed to Shaw’s unconventional genius was his lack of formal training in literature and theatre. Unlike his contemporaries, he did not attend university or drama school. This gave him the freedom to experiment with his writing and push boundaries, as he was not confined by the rules and techniques taught in these institutions.

Shaw’s writing style was also unconventional. He was known for his use of wit and satire, which he used to criticize societal issues. His plays were not written in a typical format, with long monologues and dialogues filled with philosophical ideas. Instead, he used short, sharp and witty exchanges between characters to convey his message. This style was not widely accepted in the theatre world at the time, but it became a trademark of Shaw’s work and contributed to his success.

In addition to being a playwright, Shaw was also a critic and a political activist. He used his writing and public speaking skills to bring attention to social and political issues, becoming a leading figure in the Fabian Society. He also used his influence to advocate for other writers and artists, helping them gain recognition for their work. Shaw’s multifaceted talents and unconventional approach to writing made him a respected and influential figure in society.

In conclusion, George Bernard Shaw’s success is a result of his unconventional thinking, boldness, and fearlessness. He was not afraid to challenge societal norms and break away from traditional ideas. His lack of formal training in literature and theatre gave him the freedom to experiment with his writing, and his unique writing style set him apart from his contemporaries. Shaw’s success not only cemented his place in the world of literature but also inspired future generations of writers to think outside the box and be unafraid to push boundaries.