'These highbrows must remember that there is a demand for little things as well as for big things'
George Bernard Shaw was one of the leading playwrights and public intellectuals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He helped propel drama towards the unexpected, into a realm where it might shock audiences into new viewpoints and into fresh understandings of society. Throughout his long writing career Shaw wrote short plays, ranging in length from 1000-word puppet play, Shakes Versus Shav, to the 12,000-word suffragette comedy, Press Cuttings. These plays can be taken
to illuminate Shaw's life and legacy, from ideas about war and patriotism in O'Flaherty, V.C. to censorship in The Shewing up of Blanco Posset.
Surveying Shaw's entire career of writing short dramas, focusing especially on those years when his work in the form was particularly prolific (around 1909 and during the First World War), this collection places Shaw's short plays broadly into four key areas: farces, historical sketches, war dramas, and Shakespearean shorts. For each of these areas, the volume explores Shaw's aesthetic and thematic concerns, the precise historical and generic contexts in which the works were written, the major
criticism and scholarship that has subsequently emerged, and the most notable stage and screen productions. This collection reveals how a playwright often criticized for being too wordy was actually a master of the short form.