Born in Dublin, Shaw was the son of an unsuccessful merchant; his mother was a singer who eventually left her husband to teach singing in London. Shaw left school at 14 to work in an estate agent's office. In 1876 he went to London and for nine years was largely supported by his parents. He wrote five novels, several of them published in small socialist magazines. Shaw was himself an ardent socialist, a member of the Fabian Society, and a popular public speaker on behalf of socialism.
Work as a journalist led to his becoming a music critic for the Star in 1888 and for the World in 1890; his enthusiasm for Wagner proved infectious to his readers. As drama critic for the Saturday Review after 1895, he won readers to Ibsen; he had already written The Quintessence of Ibsenism (1891). In 1898 Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a wealthy, wellborn Irishwoman. By this time his plays were beginning to be produced.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.