The Black Girl in Search of God, a short fable written by Shaw in a remote coastal village in South Africa. Illustrated by John Farleigh, the book was published in 1933 and became a best-seller.
The story is a fable of a “black girl,” converted by Christian missionaries, who tries to find the answer to the question “Where is God?” by making a journey of the soul. Along the way she meets with a number of representations of God, from the New and Old Testaments of the Bible and from the Koran, who disgust and appall her with their hopelessly outdated embodiments of deity. The reaction from critics and readers of the day ranged from cries of blasphemy to allegations that Shaw was moving to madness. The volume was banned in public libraries and in Ireland. Several tracts and books sought to repudiate, ridicule, or develop Shaw’s religious argument, and there were adaptations for stage performances and for radio broadcasts.
This literary event is recounted, examined, and assessed by Leon Hugo. He surveys the close kinship between Shaw and Voltaire–a dominant presence in a tale that itself echoes Candide.The final chapter considers the “black girl” as a Shavian champion of religious freedom, feminist rights, and political emancipation. Illustrations revive a selection of Farleigh’s captivating artwork, and Hugo includes representative illustrations from the rebutting tracts and books that followed Black Girl as well.