Bernard Shaw Day

Here are a lot of anecdotes of Bernard Shaw that I like from various web sites.

George Bernard Shaw was once asked by a manufacturer of electric razors to endorse their new product – by shaving off his trademark beard. Shaw explained that, like his father before him, he had grown a beard for a very good reason:

“I was about five at the time,” Shaw recalled, “and I was standing at my father’s knee whilst he was shaving. I said to him, ‘Daddy, why do you shave?’ He looked at me in silence, for a full minute, before throwing the razor out of the window, saying, ‘Why the hell do I?’ He never did again.”


Having spotted George Bernard Shaw standing alone in a corner during her dinner party, a hostess anxiously approached her distinguished guest. “Are you enjoying yourself, Mr. Shaw?” she inquired. “Certainly,” Shaw replied. “There is nothing else here to enjoy.”


And the list goes on…


While conversing with George Bernard Shaw and his wife one day, the writer Patrick Mahony asked Mrs. Shaw how she had dealt with her husband’s innumerable, and often persistent, female admirers.

“After we were married,” she began, “there was an actress who pursued my husband. She threatened suicide if she were not allowed to see him.” Shaw, of course, had denied her the privilege. “And did she die of a broken heart?” Mahony asked. “Yes, she did,” Shaw’s wife replied. “Fifty years later.”


On his ninetieth birthday, George Bernard Shaw was visited by Scotland Yard’s celebrated Detective Fabian. To mark the occasion, Fabian suggested that Shaw’s fingerprints be recorded for posterity.

Incredibly, so faint were Shaw’s prints that no impression could be made. “Well,” Shaw playfully declared, “had I known this sooner I should certainly have chosen another profession!”


Once George Bernard Shaw had dinner in a big restaurant.
While he was dining an orchestra played very loudly.

Shaw called a waiter and asked him: “Could you tell me if the orchestra would play something that a customer has requested?”
“But certainly Monsieur,” the waiter replied. “What would you like the orchestra to play?”
“Well, could they play poker until I have finished my dinner?”


While sitting for Yousuf Karsh one day, George Bernard Shaw asked the great photographer to reveal his nationality. Karsh, who had come to Canada to escape oppression by the Turks, explained that he was an Armenian and proudly so. “Good!” Shaw replied. “I have many friends among the Armenians. But the only way to keep them healthy and strong is to have them exterminated every once in a while!”


Showing a friend the portrait bust sculpted for him by Renoir, Shaw remarked: “It’s a funny thing about that bust. As time goes on, it seems to get younger and younger.”


The first performance of Arms and the Man (April 21, 1894) was boisterous. The author took a curtain call and was received with cheers. While they were subsiding, before Shaw could utter a syllable, a solitary hiss was heard from the gallery. It was made by R. Goulding Bright, who later became a very successful literary agent. Bright hissed, it later appeared, under the misapprehension that Shaw’s satire on florid Balkan soldiers was, in fact, a reflection on the British army. Shaw did not know this at the time, however, and as he stood on the stage he raised his hand to silence the cheers.

Bowing in Bright’s direction, he said, “I quite agree with you, sir, but what can two do against so many?”


At a dinner party shaw sat next to a young man who proved to be a bore of historic proportions. After suffering through a interminable monologue, Shaw cut in to observe that between the two of them, they knew everything there was to know in the world. “How is that?” asked the young man. “Well,” said Shaw, “you seem to know everything except that you’re a bore. And I know that!”


The military theorist and historian B. H. Lid- dell Hart once observed to Shaw, “Do you know that ‘sumac’ and ‘sugar’ are the only two words in the English language that begin with su and are pronounced shu.

“Sure,” answered Shaw.


Arnold Bennett visited Shaw in his apartment and, knowing his host’s love of flowers, was surprised that there was not a single vase of flowers to be seen. He remarked on their absence to Shaw: “But I thought you were so fond of flowers.” “I am,” said Shaw, “but I don’t chop their heads off and stand them in pots around the house.”


A lady notorious for courting celebrities sent Shaw an invitation reading “Lady-will be at home on Tuesday between four and six o’clock.” Shaw returned the card annotated, “Mr. Bernard Shaw likewise.”


In conversation with Shaw and his wife, writer Patrick Mahony asked Mrs. Shaw how she had coped with her husband’s many female admirers. By way of reply, Mrs. Shaw began to recount an anecdote: “After we were married there was an actress who pursued my husband. She threatened suicide if she were not allowed to see him…” “And did she die of a broken heart?” “Yes, she did,” interrupted Shaw. “Fifty years later”


At the age of ninety-four Shaw refused a crucial kidney operation, telling his doctor, “You won’t be famous if I recover surgeons only become famous when their patients die.”


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