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21 Feb

How He Lied to Her Husband: G. B. Shaw

G. B. Shaw wrote the comedy“How he Lied to Her Husband” for Arnold Daly in four days, while on vacation in Scotland. It presents a familiar triangular situation involving a husband, wife and a lover poet. Henry Apjohn, the lover in the play, is a handsome young man madly in love with Aurora .He even dedicates a book of poems to her with the name Aurora written all over .He asks her to walk out on her husband and into his life.

It is eight O’clock in the evening. Henry the poet lover, a beautiful youth of eighteen, comes in alone to Aurora’s house with a bunch of flowers in his hands. He   is a very beautiful youth, moving as in a dream, walking as on air. He puts his flowers down carefully on the table .He looks at his watch. He notices the things on the table. He lights up as if he saw heaven opening before him. He goes to the table and the takes the cloud in both his hands and kisses it. He kisses the gloves .He kisses the fan. He takes the mirror from the table to make sure of his tie. He is looking at his watch again when she comes in. She is dressed for the theatre .She has spoilt and petted ways. She wears many diamonds. She has an air of being a young and beautiful woman but she is a very ordinary South Kensington female of about 37.She is hopelessly inferior in physical and spiritual distinction to the beautiful youth.

Aurora is very angry that she has lost the poems given to her by Henry. She sees the loss as a dreadful thing. She fears that it will be the end of her marriage.She believes that her sister- in -law must have taken it. The poems have Aurora written all over. As the name is rare in London everyone will be able to identify her easily. She thinks that all sisters- in- laws are bad .She thinks that there must be a law against a man’s sister ever entering his house after he is married.  She fears that the poems would be given to her husband Teddy. However Henry is not worried. He wants her to leave her husband .He wants to tell her husband all about their love. He thinks that first they will go to the theatre and see “Candida”. “Candida” is a story of a triangular love affair too. She thinks that Candida is the drama that created all these problems. After her divorce he is ready to go through the idle ceremony of marriage   if she so desires. He does not give much importance to law. His love for her was not created by law.

Aurora asks for Henry’s help. She knows that she will be in trouble if the poems get into his hands. She wants him to tell a lie. He should tell Teddy that the poems were addressed to some other Aurora. At first Henry is unwilling. Finally he agrees to tell him a lie. Then Teddy comes in. He is robust, thick necked well groomed city man. He has a strong chin and credulous mouth. He has a momentous air.

When Aurora leaves he asks Henry whether he had written the poems that are in his custody .He says that he had written the poems to Aurora the goddess of dawn. He had given her the poems only because they had the name Aurora in them. He tells him that he never had the slightest feelings for her. Hearing this Teddy becomes angry. Henry tells her husband that he would never have dreamt of writing poems to her. At this Teddy becomes furious. He tells him that he does not admire her at all. Teddy loses all control and tells him that most men in Kensington had great love for her .They  thought that she was the smartest , handsomest ,the cleverest  and most attractive woman. He cannot imagine why Henry does not admire her. Then Teddy attacks him .She rushes into the room to stop the fight. She warns Teddy that Henry is a prize fighter. Henry becomes furious and confesses that he had written the poems to Aurora. He tells him that he had only told the  lie at the behest of Aurora and that he truly loved her. Hearing this husband is very happy. He promises to print the collection of poems that Henry had written. He suggests that they shall call the collection “How He Lied to Her Husband”.

The comedy is brilliant and sparkling.  There are so many interesting situations in the play. While Henry tries to remain on the upper plane of love Aurora is simply living at the lower level, the level of reality. The twist at the end of the play is truly fantastic. Teddy  loves her so much that he cannot imagine anyone speaking badly about her. In his excitement he even forgets to listen to the true story .It is real fun to read the play.


1.          He wants to take her to the theatre to see “Candida” and then to his home. Once she is divorced he is willing to go through the idle legal ceremony of marriage if she so desires. 

2.         According to Henry, Aurora’s husband being physically, weak can only show a burst of passion that can last for 15 seconds.

3.         He thinks that marriage is an idle legal ceremony. He thinks that love in him was not created by law so law has no say in matters concerning love.

4.          “Candida” is a story of a triangular love affair too. She thinks that Candida is the drama  

           that had caused all the mischief and made   her fall in love with the young poet lover    


1.         Para 1 & 3

2.         Para 1 & 3

3.         para 1,4 & 5

4.         para 1,4  , 5 & 6

Prof Pius Ozhakal

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