15 Anecdotes from George Bernard Shaw’s Life- Part 2


Article No.2016

Written by London swaminathan


Date : 24  July 2014

Time uploaded in London : 13-37


(Seven of the 15 anecdotes were published yesterday in Part-1)


8.I think of nothing but Money!

It is reported that Sam Goldwyn telephoned to G.B.Shaw and attempted to drive a bargain for the film rights for some of his plays. Shaw’s terms were stiff and Goldwyn endeavoured to whittle them down by an appeal to the artist.

“Think of millions of people who would get a chance to see your plays who would otherwise never see them. Think of the contribution it would be to art.”

“The trouble is, Mr.Goldwyn,” Shaw replied, “that you think of nothing but Art and I think of nothing but money.”


my fair lady


How Producer Gabriel Pascal acquired the film rights to Shaw’s plays – a mine of entertainment material practically every producer in Hollywood has tried one time or another – is utterly implausible story. In 1935, after spending six months in Hollywood doing nothing, Pascal, who had made one successful picture and a succession of shorts, left in disgust. He arrived in London, and out of a clear sky called on Shaw, whom he had never met, saying he wanted to produce his plays. When Shaw asked how much capital he had to do it with, Pascal replied: “ Fifteen shillings and six pence – but I owe a pound.”

Delighted as much with his effrontery as with Pascal’s obvious admiration for his work, Shaw gave him a pound to pay his debts, and agreed to the experiment. The successful “Pygmalion” was the result.

(My connection with Shaw’s plays: When I was working as the Producer of BBC Tamil Service in London, we produced Pygmalion in Tamil and broadcast it. I acted as professor in the play. The BBC has got official permission to translate St Joan of Shaw into Tamil, which I translated for the BBC Tamil Service. But we did not produce it in the studio for lack of time between 1987 and 1992—London swaminathan)



10.Swimming: Helped a youth

Bernard Shaw was enjoying a swim in a pool during a stay in South Africa; so were some boys who knew nothing of the august author one small boy was “dared” by his playmates to “duck the old man” for a Shilling. He accepted, but when he was close to his victim, panic seized him. Shaw turned, saw the youngster, and asked him what he wanted. In halting accents, the boy revealed the plot and the shilling bet.

“Well”, said Shaw, looking sternly at the youngster, “if you wait a moment while I get my breath, I will let you push my head under water.

He did, and the small boy swam back triumphantly to collect his shilling.

life shaw


11.Shaw writes “Nonsense”

After the premiere performance of “Arms and the Man”, Bernard Shaw was called upon to take a bow. As he stepped forward upon the stage amidst the applause, a loud voice called from the balcony, “Come, come, Shaw, you know all this stuff is balderdash.”

((Balderdash = nonsense, senseless writing))

Shaw good-naturedly looked up toward the balcony and called back, “I quite agree with you, my friend, who are you and I against many?”



12.True Characters in Shaw’s Drama

“When I wrote ‘Major Barbara’, the characters were modelled on people I knew. The liknesses were unmistakable, and therefore I was anxious to make sure that no words used in the play could hurt the originals. I read the play to an old dear friend of the family.  All went well till I came to the lines: “ Never call me Mother again”. ‘Oh’, said she, ‘you must not say that for those are the very words used by ….. (the character copied in the play), and used in tragic circumstances.’”

Shaw paused. Bridges opened his eyes, ‘remarkable co-incidence,” he said and closed his eyes again.


shaw wealth

13.Social Activities

Bernard Shaw one day received an invitation from a celebrity hunter: “Lady X will be at home Thursday between four and six.”

The author returned the card; underneath he had written: “Mr Bernard Shaw likewise”.


devils disciple


“Youth”, said George Bernard Shaw, “is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.”


15.Vegetarian Shaw

George Bernard Shaw was noted as a vegetarian. On time, at a dinner party in London, he had before him on his plate the special concoction which was always provided for him, consisting of some greens with a mixture of salad oils.

Sir James Barrie, who was Shaw’s neighbour at the table, bent over him and, in a confidential tone, asked, “Tell me one thing, Shaw, have you eaten that are you going to?”



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