George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion


G. B. Shaw's Pygmalion


  • Intro

    George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, which was written in 1913 and opened in London in 1914, explores the relationship between elocution teacher Professor Henry Higgins and Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle. It was a finely crafted examination of early 20th-century attitudes to language and social class, and includes the then infamous line ‘not bloody likely’, shown here.


    Shaw inserted hand written notes to this script with additional stage directions and lines that add realism to the dialogue. The printed dialogue shows Eliza’s broad Cockney (London) dialect – 'I ain’t dirty: I washed my hands and face afore I come'. Only in Shaw’s hand written revisions do we glimpse his recommended Cockney pronunciation – 'Eah (Here)! you gimme thet enkecher (handkerchief)'. In the pages shown here, Eliza reveals her newly eloquent and 'polite' tones. Yet, in spite of this transformation, Eliza still shocks those in her company; her mastery of language and dialogue is of 'the new ways'.


    Shelfmark: Add. MS 50629, ff.11v–12.

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