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It was astounding that I had forgotten George Bernard Shaw, in writing about classic British prose writers of the 20th century, and my surprise is compounded by the fact that two extremely erudite friends from whom I had invited suggestions had not recommended him either. One of them did suggest that he was an insufferable old bore but, though I can understand the comment, that is not the whole story, and his achievements were certainly considerable.
It is possible that in my memory he, or at least his most influential work, belonged to an earlier period, given that both ‘Plays Pleasant’ and ‘Plays Unpleasant’ had been published in 1898, but the essence of a play is production, and only three of the seven plays in the two volumes were produced in the 1890s. Indeed ‘Mrs Warren’s Profession’, recognizably the least pleasant of them since it dealt with prostitution, was publicly produced only in 1925, though it had a private performance in 1902.