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When offstage actions contradict a playwright’s onstage message, literary study gets messy. In his personal relationships, George Bernard Shaw was often ambivalent toward liberated women—surprisingly so, considering his reputation as one of the first champions of women’s rights. His private attitudes sit uncomfortably beside his public philosophies that were so foundational to first-wave feminism.
Here, Shaw’s long-recognized influence on feminism is reexamined through the lens of twenty-first-century feminist thought as well as previously unpublished primary sources. New links appear between Shaw’s writings and his gendered notions of physicality, pain, performance, nationalism, authorship, and politics. The book’s archival material includes previously unpublished Shaw correspondence and excerpts from the works of his feminist playwright contemporaries. Shaw and Feminisms explores Shaw’s strong female characters, his real-life involvement with women, and his continuing impact on theater and politics today.