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The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place - George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) is best known as a playwright but, in addition to more than 60 plays, he was also a music and literary critic and a prolific pamphleteer - writing both brochures and speeches for The Fabian Society, a British intellectual socialist movement. Like his other writing, his plays tend to focus on social issues such as education, marriage, religion, politics and particularly the exploitation of the working class, but wrapped with a light comedy to make them palatable to a wide audience.

He is the only person to have won both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), the latter for his work on the film Pygmalion*, which was adapted from the play of the same name (which many will know better as the musical My Fair Lady). He wanted to refuse the Nobel Prize, but his wife (Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a fellow Fabian) persuaded him to accept it as a tribute to Ireland; but he rejected the monetary prize asking that it be used to translate Swedish books into English.

*The Pygmalion myth was popular with Victoria playwrights. According to Ovid's version of the tale, Pygmalion was a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory, and promptly fell in love with her. At the festival of Venus he made an offering to the goddess and wished that the statue could be made real. Following a visit from Cupid, his wish was granted, and the two were married.

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