Pygmalion has become by far Shaw's most famous play, mostly through its film adaptation in 1938. Shaw was intimately involved with the making of the film. He wrote the screenplay and was the first man to win both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award.
Shaw wrote the part of Eliza Doolittle for a beautiful actress named Mrs. Patrick Campbell, with whom it was rumored that he was having an affair. This rumor later turned out not to be true, and some critics read the disappointed love affair between Higgins and Eliza as reflecting Shaw's own romantic frustrations including a long, celibate marriage.
Shaw once proclaimed: "The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it. They spell it so abominably that no man can teach himself what it sounds like." Much of Pygmalion is wrapped up with the class identification that comes with having an accent in British society. As a socialist with strong convictions, Shaw used the stage to expose hypocrisies surrounding marriage, language, and convention. Shaw's preoccupation with language in this play may also have had something to do with the fact that the most frequent criticism of his earlier plays was that his characters engaged in witty banter that lacked depth. By making language the center of this play, Shaw highlights the significance of something that his critics, despite their criticisms, were tending to downplay.