George Bernard Shaw Quotations

I’ve been collecting quotations for years and figured I’d put my collections online for others to use as they wish. Enjoy these quotations, use the comment form to share any quotations by George Bernard Shaw you don’t find here.

More on George Bernard Shaw: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bernard_Shaw.

The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.
– George Bernard Shaw

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience!
– George Bernard Shaw

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.
– George Bernard Shaw

A doctor’s reputation is made by the number of eminent men who die under his care.
– George Bernard Shaw

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
– George Bernard Shaw

Fashions are induced epidemics.
– George Bernard Shaw

An asylum for the sane would be empty in America.
– George Bernard Shaw

As 99 per cent of English authors and 100 per cent of American ones [authors] are just such imbeciles, managers and publishers make a practice of asking for every right the author possesses.
– George Bernard Shaw

The fact is that the intrinsic worth of the book, play or whatever the author is trying to sell is the least, last factor in the the whole transaction.
– George Bernard Shaw

I object to publishers: the one service they have done me is to teach me to do without them. They combine commercial rascality with artistic touchiness and pettishness, without being either good business men or fine judges of literature.
– George Bernard Shaw

Taking all the round of professions and occupations, you will find that every man is the worse for being poor; and the doctor is a specially dangerous man when poor.
– George Bernard Shaw

A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.
– George Bernard Shaw

Economy is the art of making the most of life. The love of economy is the root of all virtue.
– George Bernard Shaw

Style is effectiveness of assertion.
– George Bernard Shaw

You know, Tolstoy, like myself, wasn’t taken in by superstitions like science and medicine.
– George Bernard Shaw

Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.
– George Bernard Shaw

My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity.
– George Bernard Shaw

A man’s interest in the world is only an overflow from his interest in himself.
– George Bernard Shaw

The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time.
– George Bernard Shaw

A man learns to skate by staggering about making a fool of himself; indeed, he progresses in all things by making a fool of himself.
– George Bernard Shaw

A reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the word to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
– George Bernard Shaw

Home is the girl’s prison and the woman’s workhouse.
– George Bernard Shaw

Every man over forty is a scoundrel.
– George Bernard Shaw

A man who desires to get married should know everything or nothing.
– George Bernard Shaw

Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.
– George Bernard Shaw

All professions are conspiracies against the laity.
– George Bernard Shaw

Always let your flattery be seen through for what really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering.
– George Bernard Shaw

An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable.
– George Bernard Shaw

As an old soldier I admit the cowardice: it’s as universal as seasickness, and matters just as little.
– George Bernard Shaw

When the military man approaches, the world locks up its spoons and packs off its womankind.
– George Bernard Shaw

What Englishman will give his mind to politics as long as he can afford to keep a motor car?
– George Bernard Shaw

Very few people can afford to be poor.
– George Bernard Shaw

Modern poverty is not the poverty that was blest in the Sermon on the Mount.
– George Bernard Shaw

Every step of progress means a duty repudiated, and a scripture torn up.
– George Bernard Shaw

Literature is like any other trade; you will never sell anything unless you go to the right shop.
– George Bernard Shaw

As long as I can conceive something better than myself, I cannot be easy unless I am striving to bring it into existence or clearing the way for it.
– George Bernard Shaw

Assassination: the extreme form of censorship.
– George Bernard Shaw

If ever I utter an oath again may my soul be blasted to eternal damnation!
– George Bernard Shaw

How can what an Englishman believes be heresy? It is a contradiction in terms.
– George Bernard Shaw

Must then a Christ perish in torment in every age to save those that have no imagination?
– George Bernard Shaw

Baseball has the great advantage over cricket of being sooner ended.
– George Bernard Shaw

Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self interest backed by force.
– George Bernard Shaw

Criminals do not die by the hands of the law; they die by the hands of other men.
– George Bernard Shaw

Cruelty must be whitewashed by a moral excuse, and pretense of reluctance.
– George Bernard Shaw

The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life.
– George Bernard Shaw

I am somewhat surprised to hear a member of your Church quote so essentially a Protestant document as the Bible.
– George Bernard Shaw

The haughty American nation…makes the Negro clean its boots and then proves the moral and physical inferiority of the Negro by the fact that he is a bootblack.
– George Bernard Shaw

The road to ignorance is paved with good editions.
– George Bernard Shaw

I must have been an insufferable child; all children are.
– George Bernard Shaw

If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example.
– George Bernard Shaw

You don’t get tired of muffins, but you don’t find inspiration in them.
– George Bernard Shaw

Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it.
– George Bernard Shaw

We should have had socialism already, but for the socialists.
– George Bernard Shaw

My specialty is being right when other people are wrong.
– George Bernard Shaw

It is very doubtful whether man is enough of a political animal to produce a good, sensible, serious and efficient constitution. All the evidence is against it.
– George Bernard Shaw

Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.
– George Bernard Shaw

Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.
– George Bernard Shaw

Find enough clever things to say, and you’re a Prime Minister; write them down and you’re a Shakespeare.
– George Bernard Shaw

First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity: no really self-respecting woman would take advantage of it.
– George Bernard Shaw

The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it…. It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth, without making some other Englishman despise him.
– George Bernard Shaw

I’m one of the undeserving poor: that’s what I am. Think of what that means to a man. It means that he’s up agen middle class morality all the time…. What is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything.
– George Bernard Shaw

Gin was mother’s milk to her.
– George Bernard Shaw

Walk! Not bloody likely. I am going in a taxi.
– George Bernard Shaw

Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich—something for nothing.
– George Bernard Shaw

Get married, but never to a man who is home all day.
– George Bernard Shaw

It is a woman’s business to get married as soon as possible, and a man’s to keep unmarried as long as he can.
– George Bernard Shaw

You can be as romantic as you please about love, Hector; but you mustn’t be romantic about money.
– George Bernard Shaw

Hell is full of musical amateurs: music is the brandy of the damned.
– George Bernard Shaw

Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.
– George Bernard Shaw

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
– George Bernard Shaw

Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity.
– George Bernard Shaw

When domestic servants are treated as human beings it is not worth while to keep them.
– George Bernard Shaw

Home life is no more natural to us than a cage is to a cockatoo.
– George Bernard Shaw

I don’t know if there are men on the moon, but if there are they must be using the earth as their lunatic asylum.
– George Bernard Shaw

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
– George Bernard Shaw

If a woman rebels against high-heeled shoes, she should take care to do it in a very smart hat.
– George Bernard Shaw

If all economists were laid end to end they would not reach a conclusion.
– George Bernard Shaw

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
– George Bernard Shaw

If you go to Heaven without being naturally qualified for it, you will not enjoy yourself there.
– George Bernard Shaw

When a bishop at the first shot abandons the worship of Christ and rallies his flock round the altar of Mars, he may be acting patriotically… but that does not justify him in pretending…that Christ is, in effect, Mars.
– George Bernard Shaw

If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people’s opinions will rush in from all quarters.
– George Bernard Shaw

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will.
– George Bernard Shaw

In heaven an angel is nobody in particular.
– George Bernard Shaw

We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years, and justify our existence…on pain of liquidation.
– George Bernard Shaw

In this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it.
– George Bernard Shaw

It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.
– George Bernard Shaw

Justice is justice though it’s always delayed and finally done only by mistake.
– George Bernard Shaw

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
– George Bernard Shaw

Life’s no brief candle—it’s a splendid torch!
– George Bernard Shaw

Life does not cease to be funny when people die, any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
– George Bernard Shaw

Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
– George Bernard Shaw

We were not fairly beaten, my lord. No Englishman is ever fairly beaten.
– George Bernard Shaw

A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.
– George Bernard Shaw

When you prevent me from doing anything I want to do, that is persecution; but when I prevent you from doing anything you want to do, that is law, order, and morals.
– George Bernard Shaw

There are scores of thousands of sects who are ready at a moment’s notice to reveal the will of God on every possible subject.
– George Bernard Shaw

Life would be tolerable but for its amusements.
– George Bernard Shaw

Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.
– George Bernard Shaw

My father must have had some elementary education for he could read and write and keep accounts inaccurately.
– George Bernard Shaw

No man can be a pure specialist without being in the strict sense an idiot.
– George Bernard Shaw

No man who is occupied in doing a very difficult thing, and doing it very well, ever loses his self-respect.
– George Bernard Shaw

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.
– George Bernard Shaw

You must not suppose, because I am a man of letters, that I never tried to earn an honest living.
– George Bernard Shaw

I have not wasted my life trifling with literary fools in taverns as Jonson did when he should have been shaking England with the thunder of his spirit.
– George Bernard Shaw

What a heartbreaking job it is trying to combine authors for their own protection… the first lesson I learned was that when you take the field for the authors you will be safer without a breastplate than without a backplate.
– George Bernard Shaw

I finished by first book seventy-six years ago. I offered it to every publisher on the English-speaking earth… and it did not get into print until, fifty years later, publishers would publish anything that had my name on it.
– George Bernard Shaw

Now of all the idealist abominations that make society pestiferous I doubt if there be any so mean as that of forcing self-sacrifice on a woman under the pretense that she likes it.
– George Bernard Shaw

One touch of Darwin makes the whole world kin.
– George Bernard Shaw

Only on paper has humanity yet achieved glory, beauty, truth, knowledge, virtue, and abiding love.
– George Bernard Shaw

I cannot learn languages; men of ordinary capacity can learn Sanskrit in less time than it takes me to buy a German dictionary.
– George Bernard Shaw

A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell.
– George Bernard Shaw

What is virtue but the Trade Unionism of the married?
– George Bernard Shaw

Those who talk most about the blessings of marriage and the constancy of its vows are the very people who declare that if the chain were broken and the prisoners left free to choose, the whole social fabric would fly asunder.
– George Bernard Shaw

People always get tired of one another. I grow tired of myself whenever I am left alone for ten minutes, and I am certain that I am fonder of myself than anyone can be of another person.
– George Bernard Shaw

People exaggerate the value of things they haven’t got: everybody worships truth and unselfishness because they have no experience with them.
– George Bernard Shaw

All great truths begin as blasphemies.
– George Bernard Shaw

Power does not corrupt man; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.
– George Bernard Shaw

The only power a god can teach is the power of doing without happiness.
– George Bernard Shaw

A feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
– George Bernard Shaw

Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman, but believing what he read made him mad.
– George Bernard Shaw

Revolutionary movements attract those who are not good enough for established institutions as well as those who are too good for them.
– George Bernard Shaw

Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny, they have only shifted it to another shoulder.
– George Bernard Shaw

Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.
– George Bernard Shaw

A man of great common sense and good taste,—meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.
– George Bernard Shaw

We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.
– George Bernard Shaw

A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth.
– George Bernard Shaw

We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.
– George Bernard Shaw

The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is.
– George Bernard Shaw

Do you think that the things people make fools of themselves about are any less real and true than the things they behave sensibly about?
– George Bernard Shaw

Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
– George Bernard Shaw

The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.
– George Bernard Shaw

I believe in Michael Angelo, Velasquez, and Rembrandt; in the might of design, the mystery of color, the redemption of all things by Beauty everlasting, and the message of Art that has made these hands blessed.
– George Bernard Shaw

With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer…whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his…. It would positively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him.
– George Bernard Shaw

Parentage is a very important profession; but no test of fitness for it is ever imposed in the interest of children.
– George Bernard Shaw

It’s all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date.
– George Bernard Shaw

You don’t expect me to know what to say about a play when I don’t know who the author is, do you? If it’s by a good author, it’s a good play, naturally. That stands to reason.
– George Bernard Shaw

The one point on which all women are in furious secret rebellion against the existing law is the saddling of the right to a child with the obligation to become the servant of a man.
– George Bernard Shaw

If you strike a child, take care that you strike it in anger, even at the risk of maiming it for life. A blow in cold blood neither can nor should be forgiven.
– George Bernard Shaw

What God hath joined together no man ever shall put asunder: God will take care of that.
– George Bernard Shaw

When you loved me I gave you the whole sun and stars to play with. I gave you eternity in a single moment, strength of the mountains in one clasp of your arms, and volume of all the seas in one impulse of your soul.
– George Bernard Shaw

We possessed all the universe together; and you ask me to give you my scanty wages as well. I have given you the greatest of all things; and you ask me to give you little things. I gave you your own soul: you ask me for my body as a plaything.
– George Bernard Shaw

I am a woman of the world, Hector: and I can assure you that if you will only take the trouble always to do the perfectly correct thing, and to say the perfectly correct thing, you can do just what you like.
– George Bernard Shaw

Vitality in a woman is a blind fury of creation.
– George Bernard Shaw

The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.
– George Bernard Shaw

Is the devil to have all the passions as well as all the good tunes?
– George Bernard Shaw

Very nice sort of place, Oxford, I should think, for people that like that sort of place.
– George Bernard Shaw

You think that you are Ann’s suitor; that you are the pursuer and she the pursued; that it is your part to woo, to persuade, to prevail, to overcome. Fool: it is you who are the pursued, the marked down quarry, the destined prey.
– George Bernard Shaw

Go anywhere in England, where there are natural, wholesome, contented, and really nice English people; and what do you always find? That the stables are the real centre of the household.
– George Bernard Shaw

The captain is in his bunk, drinking bottled ditchwater; and the crew is gambling in the forecastle. She will strike and sink and split. Do you thing the laws of God will be suspended in favour of England because you were born in it?
– George Bernard Shaw

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.
– George Bernard Shaw

To the person with a toothache, even if the world is tottering, there is nothing more important than a visit to a dentist.
– George Bernard Shaw

The notion that disarmament can put a stop to war is contradicted by the nearest dogfight.
– George Bernard Shaw

The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.
– George Bernard Shaw

Don’t try to live forever. You will not succeed.
– George Bernard Shaw

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
– George Bernard Shaw

The secret of forgiving everything is to understand nothing.
– George Bernard Shaw

The secret to success is to offend the greatest number of people.
– George Bernard Shaw

Let wife and child perish, and lay bricks for your last crust, rather than part with an iota of your [copy]rights.
– George Bernard Shaw

The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech.
– George Bernard Shaw

The world is populated in the main by people who should not exist.
– George Bernard Shaw

There are two tragedies in life: one is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.
– George Bernard Shaw

Do not do unto others as you would they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.
– George Bernard Shaw

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
– George Bernard Shaw

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.
– George Bernard Shaw

The British soldier can stand up to anything except the British War Office.
– George Bernard Shaw

Stimulate the phagocytes.
– George Bernard Shaw

There may be some doubt as to who are the best people to have charge of children, but there can be no doubt that parents are the worst.
– George Bernard Shaw

Those who do not know how to live must make a merit of dying.
– George Bernard Shaw

A moderately honest man with a moderately faithful wife, moderate drinkers both, in a moderately healthy house: that is the true middle-class unit.
– George Bernard Shaw

Our middle classes who are comfortable and irresponsible at other people’s expense, and are neither ashamed of that condition nor even conscious of it.
– George Bernard Shaw

To be clever enough to get a great deal of money, one must be stupid enough to want it.
– George Bernard Shaw

Money is indeed the most important thing in the world; and all the sound and successful personal and national morality should have this fact for its basis.
– George Bernard Shaw

Money is the most important thing in the world. It represents health, strength, honour, generosity, and beauty as conspicuously as the want of it represents illness, weakness, disgrace, meanness, and ugliness.
– George Bernard Shaw

Nobody can say a word against Greek: it stamps a man at once as an educated gentleman.
– George Bernard Shaw

I am a Millionaire. That is my religion.
– George Bernard Shaw

I am a sort of collector of religions: and the curious thing is that I find I can believe in them all.
– George Bernard Shaw

I can’t talk religion to a man with bodily hunger in his eyes.
– George Bernard Shaw

You daren’t handle high explosives; but you’re all ready to handle honesty and truth and justice and the whole duty of man, and kill one another at that game. What a country! What a world!
– George Bernard Shaw

Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done.
– George Bernard Shaw

Our political experiment of democracy, the last refuge of cheap misgovernment.
– George Bernard Shaw

He knows nothing; he thinks he knows everything—that clearly points to a political career.
– George Bernard Shaw

Though the Life Force supplies us with its own purpose, it has no other brains to work with than those it has painfully and imperfectly evolved in our heads.
– George Bernard Shaw

Reminiscences make one feel so deliciously aged and sad.
– George Bernard Shaw

A man who has no office to go to—I don’t care who he is—is a trial of which you can have no conception.
– George Bernard Shaw

To be in hell is to drift; to be in heaven is to steer.
– George Bernard Shaw

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
– George Bernard Shaw

Virtue consists, not in abstaining from vice, but in not desiring it.
– George Bernard Shaw

Virtue is insufficient temptation.
– George Bernard Shaw

I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.
– George Bernard Shaw

You can always tell an old soldier by the inside of his holsters and cartridge boxes. The young ones carry pistols and cartridges: the old ones, grub.
– George Bernard Shaw

I never expect a soldier to think.
– George Bernard Shaw

I was a freethinker before I knew how to think.
– George Bernard Shaw

I never apologize.
– George Bernard Shaw

He is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.
– George Bernard Shaw

We are not taught to think decently on sex subjects, and consequently we have no language for them except indecent language.
– George Bernard Shaw

We have not lost faith, but we have transferred it from God to the medical profession.
– George Bernard Shaw

It is easy—terribly easy—to shake a man’s faith in himself. To take advantage of that to break a man’s spirit is devil’s work.
– George Bernard Shaw

I am only a beer teetotaller, not a champagne teetotaller.
– George Bernard Shaw

We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.
– George Bernard Shaw

We must make the world honest before we can honestly say to our children that honesty is the best policy.
– George Bernard Shaw

What is the matter with the poor is poverty; what is the matter with the rich is uselessness.
– George Bernard Shaw

The greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is poverty.
– George Bernard Shaw

There are only two qualities in the world: efficiency and inefficiency; and only two sorts of people: the efficient and the inefficient.
– George Bernard Shaw

What the world calls originality is only an unaccustomed method of tickling it.
– George Bernard Shaw

What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.
– George Bernard Shaw

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
– George Bernard Shaw

He who has never hoped can never despair.
– George Bernard Shaw

When I was young I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures, so I did ten times more work.
– George Bernard Shaw

One man that has a mind and knows it, can always beat ten men who haven’t and don’t.
– George Bernard Shaw

When we know what God is, we shall be gods ourselves.
– George Bernard Shaw

Where there is no religion, hypocrisy becomes good taste.
– George Bernard Shaw

Why should we take advice on sex from the Pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn’t.
– George Bernard Shaw

Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.
– George Bernard Shaw

Remember always that the least plain sister is the family beauty.
– George Bernard Shaw

You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.
– George Bernard Shaw

You see things and you say “Why?”; but I dream things that never were and I say “Why not?”
– George Bernard Shaw

Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.
– George Bernard Shaw

Youth, which is forgiven everything, forgives itself nothing: age, which forgives itself everything, is forgiven nothing.
– George Bernard Shaw

…you will never find an Englishman in the wrong. He does everything on principle. He fights you on patriotic principles; he robs you on business principles; he enslaves you on imperial principles.
– George Bernard Shaw

Well, sir, you never can tell. That’s a principle in life with me, sir, if you’ll excuse my having such a thing.
– George Bernard Shaw

An English army led by an Irish general: that might be a match for a French army led by an Italian general.
– George Bernard Shaw

A great devotee of the Gospel of Getting On.
– George Bernard Shaw

The fickleness of the women I love is only equaled by the infernal constancy of the women who love me.
– George Bernard Shaw

It is clear that a novel cannot be too bad to be worth publishing. It certainly is possible for a novel to be too good to be worth publishing.
– George Bernard Shaw

There is only one religion, though there a a hundred versions of it.
– George Bernard Shaw

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