Exclusive to Penguin Classics: the definitive text of Shaw’s volume of “unpleasant” plays, Widowers’ Houses, The Philanderer, and Mrs. Warren’s Profession—part of the official Bernard Shaw Library
A Penguin Classic
With Plays Unpleasant, Shaw issued a radical challenge to his audiences’ complacency and exposed social evils through his dramatization of the moral conflicts between youthful idealism and economic reality, promiscuity and marriage, and the duties of women to others and to themselves. His first play, Widowers’ Houses, depicts Harry Trench’s dilemma on learning that the inheritance of his fiancée comes from her father’s income as a slum landlord. In The Philanderer, charismatic Leonard Charteris proposes marriage to Grace, while he is still involved with the beautiful Julia Craven—who is not inclined to give him up so easily. And in Mrs. Warren's Profession, Vivie Warren is forced to reconsider her own future when she discovers that her mother's immoral earnings funded her genteel upbringing.
This is the definitive text under the editorial supervision of Dan H. Laurence. This volume includes Shaw’s prefaces, cast lists from the first productions of the plays, and a list of his principal works.
About the Author
George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) is one of the world’s greatest literary figures. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he left school at fourteen and in 1876 went to London, where he began his literary career with a series of unsuccessful novels. In 1884 he became a founder of the Fabian Society, the famous British socialist organization. After becoming a reviewer and drama critic, he published a study of the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen in 1891 and became determined to create plays as he felt Ibsen did: to shake audiences out of their moral complacency and to attack social problems. However, Shaw was an irrepressible wit, and his plays are as entertaining as they are socially provocative. Basically shy, Shaw created a public persona for himself: G.B.S., a bearded eccentric, crusading social critic, antivivisectionist, language reformer, strict vegetarian, and renowned public speaker. The author of fifty-three plays, hundreds of essays, reviews, and letters, and several books, Shaw is best known for Widowers’ Houses, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Arms and the Man, Caesar and Cleopatra, Man and Superman, Major Barbara, Pygmalion, Heartbreak House, and Saint Joan. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925.
David Edgar (introducer) has written widely on theater. His original plays include Destiny, Maydays, and Pentecost.
Dan H. Laurence (series editor; 1920–2008) was series editor for the works of George Bernard Shaw in Penguin. Formerly a New York University faculty member, Mr. Laurence left his tenured position in 1970 to dedicated his life to the collection and curation of Shaw's life, work, and letters. He served as the official literary advisor to Shaw's estate and published four volumes of his correspondence.
Table of Contents
Mrs. Warren's Profession
Principal Works of Bernard Shaw