A Romance in Five Acts, with over a hundred drawings by Feliks Topolski
The first London performance of 'Pygmalion' took place in 1914: Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and Mrs Patrick Campbell took the leading roles. From the outset it proved a sensational success, although Shaw, irritated by its popularity at the expense of his artistic intentions, dismissed it as a potboiler. And to thwart those productions that hinted that Higgins and Eliza would marry he wrote a short-story epilogue with a bitter-sweet ending.
Nevertheless, Shaw's dramatisation of a Cockney flower girl's metamorphosis into a lady not only is a delightful fantasy but also has much to say about social class, money, spiritual freedom and women's independence. Its combination of ideas and social comment, together with its rich comic characterisation, make it one of the most enduring and entertaining of English comedies.