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How He Lied to Her Husband

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How He Lied to Her Husband

by George Bernard Shaw

Genre: Romance
Format of Original Source: Play
Recommended Adaptation Length: 90 Minutes

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


A poetic young man falls in love with a married woman. (The same précis could be applied to Shaw’s later and far superior play, “Candida”.)

An excerpt:

HER HUSBAND [too angry to tolerate a reply, and boring Henry more and more towards the piano] You don’t admire Mrs Bompas! You would never dream of writing poems to Mrs Bompas! My wife’s not good enough for you, isn’t she. [Fiercely] Who are you, pray, that you should be so jolly superior?

HE. Mr Bompas: I can make allowances for your jealousy–

HER HUSBAND. Jealousy! do you suppose I’m jealous of YOU? No, nor of ten like you. But if you think I’ll stand here and let you insult my wife in her own house, you’re mistaken.

HE [very uncomfortable with his back against the piano and Teddy standing over him threateningly] How can I convince you? Be reasonable. I tell you my relations with Mrs Bompas are relations of perfect coldness–of indifference–

HER HUSBAND [scornfully] Say it again: say it again. You’re proud of it, aren’t you? Yah! You’re not worth kicking.

Henry suddenly executes the feat known to pugilists as dipping, and changes sides with Teddy, who it now between Henry and the piano.

HE. Look here: I’m not going to stand this.

HER HUSBAND. Oh, you have some blood in your body after all! Good job!

HE. This is ridiculous. I assure you Mrs. Bompas is quite–

HER HUSBAND. What is Mrs Bompas to you, I’d like to know. I’ll tell you what Mrs Bompas is. She’s the smartest woman in the smartest set in South Kensington, and the handsomest, and the cleverest, and the most fetching to experienced men who know a good thing when they see it, whatever she may be to conceited penny-a-lining puppies who think nothing good enough for them. It’s admitted by the best people; and not to know it argues yourself unknown. Three of our first actor-managers have offered her a hundred a week if she’d go on the stage when they start a repertory theatre; and I think they know what they’re about as well as you. The only member of the present Cabinet that you might call a handsome man has neglected the business of the country to dance with her, though he don’t belong to our set as a regular thing. One of the first professional poets in Bedford Park wrote a sonnet to her, worth all your amateur trash. At Ascot last season the eldest son of a duke excused himself from calling on me on the ground that his feelings for Mrs Bompas were not consistent with his duty to me as host; and it did him honor and me too. But [with gathering fury] she isn’t good enough for you, it seems. You regard her with coldness, with indifference; and you have the cool cheek to tell me so to my face. For two pins I’d flatten your nose in to teach you manners. Introducing a fine woman to you is casting pearls before swine [yelling at him] before SWINE! d’ye hear?

HE [with a deplorable lack of polish] You call me a swine again and I’ll land you one on the chin that’ll make your head sing for a week.

HER HUSBAND [exploding] What–!

He charges at Henry with bull-like fury.


Very light; almost a trifle, without any of the believability of Shaw’s later “Candida.” But it could, in spite of its lightness, make a charming musical and could well be worth your attention.


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