This book investigates how, alongside Beatrice Webb's ground-breaking pre-World War One anti-poverty campaigns, George Bernard Shaw helped launch the public debate about the relationship between equality, redistribution and democracy in a developed economy.
The ten years following his great 1905 play on poverty Major Barbara present a puzzle to Shaw scholars, who have hitherto failed to appreciate both the centrality of the idea of equality in major plays like Getting
Married, Misalliance, and Pygmalion, and to understand that his major political work, 1928's The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism had its roots in this period before the Great War. As both the era's leading dramatist and leader of the Fabian Society, Shaw proposed his radical postulate of equal incomes as a solution to those twin scourges of a modern industrial society: poverty and inequality. Set against the backdrop of Beatrice Webb's famous Minority Report
of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law 1905-1909 - a publication which led to grass-roots campaigns against destitution and eventually the Welfare State - this book considers how Shaw worked with Fabian colleagues, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and H. G. Wells to explore through a series of major lectures, prefaces and plays, the social, economic, political, and even religious implications of human equality as the basis for modern democracy.
Peter Gahan is an independent scholar. He graduated in Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. He has written the book Shaw Shadows: Rereading the Texts of Bernard Shaw
(2004), an introduction to the 2006 Penguin edition of Shaw's Candida
and edited the volume Shaw and The Irish Literary Tradition
(2010). Having served for several years on the editorial board of SHAW: the Journal of Bernard Shaw Studies
, he is currently co-editor of Palgrave Macmillan's Bernard Shaw and his Contemporaries
Chapter 1. 1884-1904, Introduction.- Chapter 2. 1905, Poverty, Salvation, and the Poor Law Commission.- Chapter 3. 1905-1909, Noises Off.- Chapter 4. 1909, The Minority Report.- Chapter 5. 1910, Campaign for the Prevention of Destitution.- Chapter 6. 1911, Travels.- Chapter 7. 1912, War on Poverty.- Chapter 8. 1913, The New Statesman and the Fabian Research Department.- Chapter 9. 1914, Redistribution and War.- Chapter 10.1915-1950, Epilogue.- Bibliography.