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Mrs. Warren's Profession

George Bernard Shaw

Book Overview: 

The story centers on the relationship between Mrs Kitty Warren, a rich woman, described by the author as "on the whole, a genial and fairly presentable old blackguard of a woman" and her daughter, Vivie. Mrs Warren is a middle-aged woman whose Cambridge-educated daughter, Vivie, is horrified to discover the morally questionable way her mother acquired her fortune.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Mr Wegg drop it on these terms, provided I am allowed to mention here that Mrs Warren's Profession is a play for women; that it was written for women; that it has been performed and produced mainly through the determination of women that it should be performed and produced; that the enthusiasm of women made its first performance excitingly successful; and that not one of these women had any inducement to support it except their belief in the timeliness and the power of the lesson the play teaches. Those who were "surprised to see ladies present" were men; and when they proceeded to explain that the journals they represented could not possibly demoralize the public by describing such a play, their editors cruelly devoted the space saved by their delicacy to an elaborate and respectful account of the progress of a young lord's attempt to break the bank at Monte Carlo. A few days sooner Mrs Warren would have been crowded out of their papers by an exceptionally abominable pol. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Any play by George Bernard Shaw deserves a careful reading of his extended introduction, his introductions always clarifying his intent and motivation in writing the particular play he is presenting. This present introduction is no exception, and without a knowledge of his perceptions and goals t...more

Of the Shaw I read in my short stint as a dramaturg, this was my favorite. It bears all his hallmarks: feisty women choosing between an artist and a businessman, a basic farcical British romance plot, a hypocritical priest, lots of quipping about philosophy, and attempts to make the characters vi...more

#7 of my 2018 Shaw Project

Shaw's Mrs Warren's Profession was banned for nearly 30 years by a Lord Chamberlain who condemned it for being "immoral and improper." It has lost none of its edginess these past 125 years.

Mrs Warren's Profession is a complex comedy - not your typical satire or farce, in...more

My favorite Bernard Shaw play for one reason, Vivie.

The plot deftly explores some taboo subjects of the time through Mrs. Warren and her family and male friends back in England. Mrs. Warrens former occupation was as a high end prostitute and her current occupation is as a madam of several brothel...more

The Oldest Profession
26 January 2018 Kuala Lumpar

Fortunately I have discovered that there are a couple of versions of this play on Youtube, one of them having been viewed over twenty-five thousand times (I believe that it is a performance), so when I have a bit more time, since I am currently...more

Shaw may or may not have become my favourite playwriter!
Very forward for its time, it deals with issues that are taboo even to this day, let alone the 19th century.

Getting Biblical about this, should the sins of the fathers be visited upon the children unto the tenth generation? Does this apply to mothers too? Or shall we be a bit more modern and forgiving about it? The daughter in this play took the hard Biblical line and applied it to her mother, cutting...more

Mrs. Warrens Profession (1883) was first collected in Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, where Shaw classifies it as one of his unpleasant plays. And, boy, is Shaw ever right.

Partly, this is because of the theme of the play: women are drawn into prostitution because of economic necessity, not because...more

Read a play

I know that this play is a classic and there are a lot of people who like it. It just didn't do it for me. I thought it was boring and pretentious, and I literally hated every single character in it. Basically the plot centers around a middle-aged Mrs. Warren and her young adult daught...more

George Bernard Shaw was ahead of his time, and this play was banned when it was written (1893).

It exposes the hypocrisy of a society that condemns those who are not chaste, but does little to assuage the poverty that leaves some women few alternatives to survive (similar territory to JB Priestly...more

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