Widowers' Houses



  • The first play by George Bernard Shaw; written in 1885 - 87,it was first performed privately in 1892 at London's Independent Theatre Club.Widowers' Houses was published as one of the three 'unpleasant' playsin Shaw's Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898). It was originallyplanned as a collaboration between Shaw and his friend William Archer, thecritic who popularized the works of Ibsen through his English translations.The play addressed the contemporary problem of slum landlords and theirexploitation of the poor.

    The plot centres upon an idealistic young doctor, Harry Trench, who fallsin love with and proposes to Blanche Sartorius. Later he learns that herfather's fortune comes from the ownership of slum houses. The horrified Trenchrefuses Sartorius's financial help, but then learns that his own private incomederives from a similarly tainted source. Worse, Blanche rejects him for hisindecisions. Eventually a somewhat chastened Trench joins Sartorius in aphilanthropic but profitable deal and is reunited with Blanche.