"You see things; and you say - Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say - Why not?"
This quotation, a line delivered by the Serpent to Eve in Shaw's play 'Back to Methuselah', opens our minds to the world of possibility. The quotation was paraphrased by Senator Robert Kennedy in a speech in 1968 and the phrase became very much associated with the optimism of the Kennedys’ America.
A hugely celebrated playwright today, George Bernard Shaw’s first five novels all failed. It wasn’t until the age of 38 that his dramatic work made its professional debut. From then, his growth was exponential. Shaw spent the rest of his life writing for the stage, creating more than 60 plays. He won a Nobel Prize for Literature for his play The Apple Cart and then an academy award for his cinematic adaptation of Pygmalion – making him the first of two people to hold both accolades. (The other is Bob Dylan.)
Shaw used his works as vehicles to disseminate his (at the time) controversial views, advocating and discussing women’s rights, health care, minimum wage reform, and the protection of the poor through his writing. Fully of vitality, he carried on writing in his nineties, living until the age of 94. When asked about his impending death, he replied ‘Well, it will be a new experience, anyway.’