George Bernard Shaw : 1856-1950

Born in 1856 in Dublin to a lower-middle class family of Scottish Protestant ancestry, George Bernard Shaw hated the name George and never used it, either personally or professionally.

His father was a failed corn-merchant with a drink problem and a squint (which Oscar Wilde's father, a leading Dublin surgeon, tried unsuccessfully to correct).

His mother was a professional singer, the sole disciple of Vandeleur Lee, a voice teacher who claimed to have a
unique and original approach to singing.

Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.

You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.

The minority is sometimes right; the majority always wrong.

We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.

You don't learn to hold your own in the world by standing on guard, but by attacking and getting well hammered yourself.

The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.

I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would be an affront to your intelligence.

People exaggerate the value of things they haven't got: everybody worships truth and unselfishness because they have no experience with them.

Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalised by music.

People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech.

Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.

In this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it.

You see things; and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"

Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity.

The frontier between hell and heaven is only the difference between two ways of looking at things.

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.

The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.

Do not try to live forever. You will not succeed.

We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

The surest way to ruin a man who doesn't know how to handle money is to give him some.

Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted?

Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.

If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance.

No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.

Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men's imperfections, and conceal your own.

We want a few mad people now. See where the sane ones have landed us!

The world is populated in the main by people who should not exist.

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he will always declare that it is his duty.

I don't know if there are men on the moon, but if there are they must be using the earth as their lunatic asylum.

A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.

I never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from people.

Life is a flame that is always burning itself out, but it catches fire again every time a child is born.

Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't!

It is not disbelief that is dangerous to our society; it is belief.

I'm not a teacher: only a fellow-traveller of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you.

I like flowers, I also like children, but I do not chop their heads and keep them in bowls of water around the house.