Pygmalion - preface

Background

Pygmalion is a play written by George Bernard Shaw. It was first performed in 1914. It tells the story of Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics. Phonetics is the study of speech sounds. Higgins makes a bet that he can transform a flower girl from the streets of London into a high class lady within six months.

The central idea of the play is that your life can be shaped by the way that you speak.

Bernard Shaw took the title Pygmalion from mythology. The Pygmalion myth features in Metamorphoses, a work by the Roman poet Ovid. In Ovid's telling of the story, Pygmalion is a lonely sculptor who carves an ivory statue representing his ideal of womanhood. He falls deeply in love with his own creation. He prays to Venus, the goddess of beauty and love who takes pity on him and brings the statue to life.

Taken from: Pygmalion: a play in five acts
Author / Creator: George Bernard Shaw
Publisher: Constable and Company Ltd.
Date:  1918
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: 11774.b.50