Monday, 25 February 2013

Oscar's final lecture in New York

Last year, when I was researching the script for our comic about Wilde's American lecture tour, I happened across a short paragraph in the 28th November 1882 edition of the New York Sun. It described a lecture Wilde had given the previous evening to a local YMCA group. Nothing odd in that, perhaps, but all four published itineraries of the lecture tour agreed that Wilde had given his final lecture in mid October, in St. John, Canada.

New York Sun, 28th Nov 1882

Was this a lecture that other researchers had missed, or was the New York Sun mistaken? I got in touch with fellow Wilde enthusiast, John Cooper, who located another reference to the YMCA lecture, this time in the New York Herald.

New York Herald, 28th Nov 1882

After a little more digging, we unearthed a total of six references to a lecture Wilde gave on the 27th November. We were confident that this lecture was genuine and that other researchers had overlooked it. So why is this exciting? Well, it has previously been assumed that Wilde grew bored with lecturing towards the end of his tour, and preferred to live the life of a New York gadabout, socialising with friends and dining at expensive restaurants. Perhaps his (unjustified) arrest in Canada for failure to keep a lecturing contract, which occurred one day before what was generally thought to be his final lecture, had frightened him away from the American stage? We now knew this couldn't be true.

John and I co-authored an article that was recently published in the January 2013 issue of The Wildean, the journal of the Oscar Wilde Society. You can read the article in full, here.

Discover more about Oscar Wilde's American lecture tour, and our comic about it, at oscarwildecomics.com

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