Oscar Wilde, A Vagabond With a Mission: The Story of Oscar Wilde’s Lecture Tours of Britain and Ireland by Geoff Dibb
Geoff Dibb digs deep into ground over which Oscar’s biographers have so far merely skated. His tireless researches have produced a treasure trove of lecture extracts, contemporary press reports and ephemera that shine significant new light on a formative period in Wilde’s life and literary development.
JONATHAN FRYER, Writer and Broadcaster
The Oscar Wilde Society is proud to announce the publication of the first comprehensive study of Wilde’s lecture tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Using letters, memoirs, biographies, previously unpublished information and thousands of contemporary newspaper accounts, Geoff Dibb gives us a portrait of Wilde which we have never seen before.
Wilde lectured between 1883 and 1889 on important artistic and social topics of the day. Controversy was never far from everything he said and did. He drew audiences of thousands of people.
Hitherto these lectures have been given little attention but they had significant implications for Wilde’s artistic development and they also gave him an opportunity to re-enter the world of journalism.
These were very important years for Wilde: he became engaged and married Constance Lloyd, he took a new home in Chelsea, became a father to two sons and was an increasingly active homosexual.
All this happened as he travelled from Cornwall to Scotland, and from Norfolk to the west coast of Ireland, visiting almost every town of any significance in between. In particular the book looks in detail at Wilde’s visits to West Yorkshire, the North East of England, the Lake District, Scotland, Ireland and the West Midlands.
The book is hardback with 31 pages of colour illustrations and many black and white illustrations in the text.
It is available direct from the Society at £27.50 inclusive of post and packing in the UK. Postage for single copies outside the UK is £10.00 for Europe and £16.50 for the rest of the world. Please click here for an order form. Payment from overseas by Paypal please. Payment in the UK by Paypal or cheque made payable to the Oscar Wilde Society.
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Oscar Wilde: The Women of Homer edited by Thomas Wright and Donald Mead
The first edition of a hitherto unpublished work by Oscar Wilde:
"This book is a wonderful contribution both to Homeric and to Wildean studies".
"The editors' skilful and sensitive rearrangement of the order of the raw manuscript into five sections has resulted in a remarkably coherent and readable essay. This is a beautifully produced edition of Wilde's earliest surviving prose work, one that is likely to satisfy the editors' hope that 'The Women of Homer' will take its place in Wilde's oeuvre."
JOHN SLOAN from the review in The Wildean No. 34
Oscar Wilde: The Women of Homer, edited by Thomas Wright and Donald Mead, was published by the Oscar Wilde Society on 1st November 2008 in a limited cloth bound hardback illustrated edition. A second impression with corrections is now available.
In 1876 Oscar Wilde, then an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford, wrote an article surveying the chapter 'The Women of Homer' from John Addington Symonds's newly published Studies of the Greek Poets (Second Series). The article was both a review of Symonds’s book and a general introduction to the heroines of Homer's epics. Wilde failed to complete the piece, abandoning it after penning 8,500 words.
Wilde's manuscript has survived. Robert Ross seems to have contemplated including it in his Collected Edition of Wilde's works but he never finished the work of editing it.
Wilde's article, 'The Women of Homer', is published here for the very first time. It is his earliest surviving prose work, and probably his first attempt at reviewing. It has been read by only a handful of scholars and Wildeans.
In this book, the typescript of the article which Christopher Millard prepared at the behest of Robert Ross is collated with Wilde's manuscript, and reproduced as a scholarly reference text illustrated by facsimiles of pages of the typescript and manuscript, and photographs. It is accompanied by a reading text, aimed at the general reader, in which Wilde's fragmentary article is re-ordered and fully annotated, and illustrated with designs by John Flaxman.
This charming edition of The Women of Homer is an elegant and intriguing addition to Wilde's oeuvre.
It is available direct from the Society at £30.00 inclusive of post and packing within the UK. Please click here to download a purchase form.
Thomas Wright's Table Talk Oscar Wilde, the first English language collection of Wilde's spoken stories, was published in 2000 by Cassell & Co. Oscar's Books, his biography of Wilde the reader, was published by Chatto & Windus in September 2008. Death in Genoa was published by the Oscar Wilde Society in January 2010.
Donald Mead, the Chairman of the Oscar Wilde Society, is the Editor of
The Wildean, A Journal of Oscar Wilde Studies.
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NEW PUBLICATION: Death in Genoa by Thomas Wright
The first edition of a new play by the author of Oscar’s Books.
Death in Genoa is an imaginative dramatic reconstruction of Oscar Wilde’s visit to his wife’s grave in Genoa, on 26 February 1899 (a poignant and little-known episode in his life), and of the time he spent in the Ligurian city. The drama is based on fact, but it is a work of fiction.
A ‘Made in Manchester/Dark Smile’ production, the audio play Death in Genoa was uploaded to the website of The Independent newspaper in December 2009. In the audio drama Simon Callow plays Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Barnett is Omero, a young Genoese rent-boy Wilde picks up, and who acts as his guide to the city.
Thomas Wright's unabridged script of the drama is published here (for the audio broadcast an entire scene was cut). The book contains a long preface by the author describing the historical context and composition of the play. It is illustrated with a number of evocative photographs of late nineteenth-century Genoa.
Death in Genoa is available direct from the Society at £8.00 inclusive of post and packing within the UK. Please click here to download a purchase form.
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Oscar Wilde visits his wife's grave in Genoa, a journey of destiny.
By P. C. Wright ("'Keep it Slow'" Bedford UK) 4 Feb 2010
‘This is a fascinating play which explores the complexity of Oscar Wilde. Wilde is not the dandy in the witness box or the scourge of English society with all the usual elaborated dramatics. This is a more human and complex character with children, and a wife he loved ; but still louche and unrepentant. Thomas Wright's play, and Simon Callow's Wilde conjure up a person with heart, shallowness, regret and a foreboding. This is a bitter sweet rite of passage as Wilde knowingly drifts towards his own fate. Absorbing and thought provoking. Excellent.’
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The Oscar Wilde Society issues two regular print journals – The Wildean and Intentions - to all its members both in UK and, by airmail, to those overseas.
The Wildean: A Journal of Oscar Wilde Studies
To quote Jonathan Fryer in his biography Wilde (Haus Publishing, 2005):
'The Wildean provides both stimulation to Wilde scholars and enlightenment to Oscar enthusiasts.'
The Wildean is published twice a year and contains illustrated articles and correspondence on a wide range of topics relating to Oscar Wilde and his circle. Contributors include many distinguished writers on Wilde. In addition to articles about Wilde’s life and writings, often incorporating the results of new research, important books about Wilde are reviewed as soon as possible after publication.
To quote Professor Pascal Aquien in the notes to his bilingual edition of Un Mari Idéal (GF Flammarion, 2004):
‘The Wildean regularly brings up to date the bibliography of Oscar Wilde.’
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A combined Table of Contents for all the issues of The Wildean may be seen by clicking here.
Here is an outline of the contents of the two most recent issues:
The Wildean No. 43 was issued in July 2013
E CHARLES NELSON in ‘Helianthus Annuus Oscar Wilde; some notes on Oscar and the cult[ivation] of sunflowers’ explores Wilde’s link to the aesthetes’ cult of the sunflower and his indubitably accidental role in promoting the cultivation of sunflowers in American and European gardens. The article is illustrated with colour reproductions of cartoons and trade cards.
MANFRED WEINHORN, in ‘Wilde and the Double Vision of Literature’, considers the literary approaches of the Realists and the Fabulists which reflect the duality of human nature and may co-exist in the same writer. Wilde himself offered realistic plays and a fabulist novel. In ‘The Decay of Lying’ he urged a rebellion against the tyranny of a scientifically nurtured realism.
ANDREW RANKIN in ‘A Wildean theory of Yukio Mishima’ analyses how Mishima imitated the European aesthetes and, learning from their weaknesses and their unhappiness, became convinced that he should make his mind and body things of equal value, getting rid of his darkly, violently and morbidly erotic temptations by yielding to all of them. The article is followed by the first publication in English translation of —
YUKIO MISHIMA’s essay, from 1950 ‘On Oscar Wilde’. This showcases the breadth of Mishima’s reading and his familiarity with the literature of the fin de siècle. This was no small achievement since at that time Japanese translations of many key works were not available and many of the names Mishima cites would have been unfamiliar to his readers.
HORST SCHROEDER in ‘”Historical Criticism” Yet Again’ returns to his point-by-point analysis of Josephine Guy’s edition of Wilde’s ‘Criticism’ in Vol. IV of the OUP edition of Wilde’s Complete Works. His discursive and enjoyable scrutiny ‘fills in a missing point here, corrects an error there, and makes a suggestion elsewhere’.
ANNE ANDERSON gives an account of Wilde’s attendance, as a guest of Edward Heron-Allen, at a Ye Sette of Odd Volumes at Limmer’s Hotel, in ‘“ There is Divinity in Odd Numbers”: Oscar’s encounter with some very Odd Volumes’. At the dinner Brother Marcus B. Huish ‘lectured sagely on beautiful things Japanese’. “The Japs are out-Europing Europe, I fear, in their newest Japan!”
ANTONY EDMONDS in ‘Family Matters relating to Alphonse Conway’ and ‘Chronology of Oscar Wilde in Worthing in 1894’ concludes his sequence of eight articles and a poem relating to Oscar Wilde’s stay in Worthing with a study of two of the minor lives disrupted or destroyed by Wilde’s tribulations and a detailed chronology of the period from the Wildes’ arrival at The Haven to Oscar and Bosie leaving Worthing to check in at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton.
ELIZABETH MURPHY, in ‘An Interview with Gyles Brandreth’, explores the first six in the author’s series of Victorian murder mysteries featuring Oscar Wilde – what prompted him to write the series, and choosing and researching the characters, real life and fictional.
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The Wildean No. 42 was issued in January 2013
This issue gives an account of the speeches at the Oscar Wilde Society’s twenty-first annual Birthday Dinner in the David Lloyd George Room at the National Liberal Club on 26 October 2012. The Toast to Oscar was felicitously proposed by DR HORST SCHROEDER, and MERLIN HOLLAND talked about his forthcoming book After Oscar. He describes being, he supposed, reluctantly, the residual embodiment of everything the Oscar Wilde Society stood for: in a sense, all that was left of Oscar Wilde. Occasionally the weight of this heritage was a burden but he was profoundly grateful for the way it brought him in touch with many fascinating people, both the famous and the obscure.
GEOFF DIBB’s article on ‘Oscar Wilde’s Lecture Tours of the United Kingdom’ describes how in a six year period from June 1883 Wilde gave about 230 lectures all across the UK. It was a formative time for Wilde. He earned a much needed income, and his lectures on topics of considerable public interest gave him important opportunities for journalism. Geoff Dibb’s book Oscar Wilde, A Vagabond With a Mission, telling the story of the tours, will be an important new publication by the Oscar Wilde Society this year.
ANTONY EDMONDS’ article ‘Constance Wilde in Worthing’ is an authoritative account of Constance during the summer holiday that Oscar and his family spent in Worthing in 1894. It includes a detailed consideration of her friendship with Arthur Humphreys, with whom she fell briefly in love, and describes her uncomfortable relationship with Bosie Douglas. It draws on her sensitive and informative letters to give a remarkable insight into her feelings and preoccupations.
ROBERT MARLAND and JOHN COOPER describe ‘Wilde’s Final Farewell Lecture in New York’. This was given at Parepa Hall in the Yorkville district of Manhattan on ‘The Practical Application of the Principles of Home Decoration with Observations on Personal Dress and Ornament’. It could be seen as a microcosm of the American tour given before a mid-sized audience of the converted and the curious.
HORST SCHROEDER in ‘Historical Criticism Revisited’ supplements his previous review of Josephine Guy’s edition of Wilde’s Criticism with a further point-by-point analysis identifying a number of references not commented on by the editor, and includes the story of Rhampsinitus (Ramses III) with Rhrampsenit, Heinrich Heine’s ‘droll divertissement’, ‘full of anachronisms and concealed erotic allusions’.
PHILIP E SMITH, in ‘Lubbock and Tylor, Anthropologists not Astronomers’ points out that when Wilde in Historical Criticism Wilde refers to ‘Mr Taylor and Sir John Lubbock’ he is not, as Josephine Guy states, referring to two astronomers, which would be implausible in this context, but to Sir Edward Tylor the author of Primitive Culture and to Sir John Lubbock, the author of On the Origin of Civilisation.
GEOFF DIBB in ‘Oscar Wilde and The Mystics. Thought Transference, The Detection of Crime and Finding a Pin’ tells the entertaining story of the rival ‘experiments’ of Washington Irving Bishop (an American who claimed magical powers) and Stuart Cumberland (who claimed only the skills of a conjurer). Oscar Wilde, and his brother Willie were among a band of worthies invited by Lord Milner to attend one of Stuart Cumberland’s ‘experiments’ in the offices of the Pall Mall Gazette.
BEN GRANGER considers Wilde’s socialism in ‘Wilde and Morris – Saving Socialism’s Soul’. Unlike Shaw, whose vision of socialism was that society could be saved by the tutorship of the enlightened and who became a cheer-leader for the Stalin regime, Wilde and Morris offered a counterbalance of idealism and clarity, of insight and inspiration.
GERALD BARRY’s operatic adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest has been enthusiastically reviewed. ‘The Importance of Being Gerald’ records his conversation with Christopher Cook about setting Wilde’s comedy to music, mirroring in the vocal line the heightened quality – a kind of hysteria – of the play’s dialogue.
RINAKO MIYATA discusses Lady Windermere’s Fan and Mrs Warren’s Profession in ‘Fallen Women in Wilde and Shaw: Identity and Love – Mrs Erlynne and Mrs Warren’
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The Wildean: A Journal of Oscar Wilde Studies is a publication of permanent interest and back copies of previous issues are available.
To quote Professor Joseph Bristow,
'The Wildean is brimful of good things'.
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The Society’s programme of forthcoming events, with booking forms, is published in Intentions, a Journal/Newsletter which is issued to all members about five times a year.
Intentions, edited by Michael Seeney, is fully illustrated in colour and also gives information about public performances of Wilde plays, other theatrical occasions and films. In each issue there is a detailed survey of newly published books of Wildean interest, with publishing details, synopses and comment.
Intentions is also a journal of record for Society events. To take just a few examples:
At recent Birthday Dinners the Society has enjoyed a talk by Simon Wilson on Jacob Epstein’s Wilde monument in Père Lachaise, and Oliver Parker’s rare and generous insight into the film-making process including the problems of bringing Dorian Gray to the screen. Neil McKenna (author of The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde) gave a talk on ‘Edward Shelley: A Boy of Some Importance’ and Rick Gekoski an authoritative and very entertaining lesson in how to form a book collection, including the formation and disposal of the John Simpson Collection.
At recent Society lunches Neil McKenna talked about 'Fanny and Stella' (Boulton and Park); Thomas Wright and Simon Scardifield presented 'Oscar's Books' ; Don Mead and Thomas Wright presented 'Oscar Wilde: The Women of Homer'; and Gyles Brandreth gave some background to his series of detective stories featuring Wilde; and Joy Melville spoke on Ellen Terry.
Intentions records the Society’s visits including those to Paris for the commemoration by Société Oscar Wilde en France of Wilde’s re-interment at Père Lachaise , and to Reading Gaol (copiously illustrated with contemporary and archive photographs and drawings) and
Intentions publishes interesting and unusual items culled from sometimes obscure sources. Recent issues contain an article by Constance Wilde in The Young Woman on 'How to Decorate a House'; a review by Willie Wilde of a performance of 'Helena in Troas'; and an article in Harper's Weekly in January 1882 about Wilde 'Our Aesthetic Visitor'.
Intentions regularly reproduces advertisements, rare trade cards and other commercially produced items connected with Oscar Wilde and his works.
Click here to see a recent example of Intentions
Special publications for members include Don Mead's guides prepared for the Society visits to places associated with Wilde. Oscar Wilde in Paris was recently reissued on the occasion of the Society’s participation in the commemoration of the re-interment of Wilde’s remains at Père Lachaise organised by Société Oscar Wilde en France. Oscar Wilde in Dublin, and Oscar Wilde in Dieppe and Berneval were also updated for successive visits. The various sites are identified in the notes, so that the booklets may also be of use to the unaccompanied visitor.
Copyright 2013 - The Oscar Wilde Society