About the BookA great dramatist, literary critic, an eminent showman, intellectual and a satirist, George Bernard Shaw was a leading theatre personality of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925. Pygmalion is one of his masterpieces.
Two old gentlemen meet in the rain one night at Covent Garden. Professor Higgins is a scientist of phonetics, and Colonel Pickering is a linguist of Indian dialects. Higgins bets that he can, with his knowledge of phonetics, convince high London society that, in a matter of months, he will be able to transform the cockney-speaking Covent Garden flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a woman as poised and well-spoken as a duchess. Eliza appears next morning at his laboratory on Wimpole Street to ask for speech lessons, offering to pay a shilling, so that she may speak properly enough to work in a flower shop. Higgins makes fun of her, but is lured by the idea of working his magic on her. Pickering goads him on by agreeing to cover the costs of the experiment if Higgins can pass Eliza off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party. The challenge is accepted and Higgins starts by having his housekeeper Mrs Pearce bathe Eliza and give her new clothes. Eliza’s father Alfred Doolittle comes to demand the return of his daughter, though his real intention is to get some money. The professor, amused by Doolittle’s unusual rhetoric, gives him five pounds. On his way out, the dustman fails to recognize the now clean, pretty flower girl as his daughter.