Sample page #3

The third sample page from my Oscar Wilde Comics project and the first close up of our hero. (Click for full size). The painting Wilde and Miss Trip are discussing is Lawrence Alma-Tadema's Sappho and Alcaeus, which was first shown at the Royal Academy in 1881. In fact, you can see John Millais and another man inspecting in on the far right of Frith's A Private View, a recreation of the event.

The lines Wilde is quoting are taken from a poem by one of his idols, Charles Algernon Swinburne. The poem is Anactoria, named for one of Sappho's Lesbian lovers (the capitalisation of Lesbian is intentional; Sappho was not only lesbian in the sense we would understand today, but because she hailed from the Greek island of Lesbos).

The rather unsavoury chap who wishes to thrash Wilde is the journalist G. A. Sala. You can see him scowling behind Wilde in Frith's picture. Miss Trip is the woman in the green aesthetic dress in the foreground of the picture. In reality, Jenny Trip didn't attend the Royal Academy viewing. She was a professional model whom Frith paid to pose in his apartments, so he could be sure of representing the aesthetic fashion correctly. The account Frith presents of Trip in his autobiography is hardly flattering. He describes her as "a trial", says she was always late and that "her conversational powers were nil". Perhaps it's a good job that she's paired here with one of the greatest conversationalists in history!

Discover more about Oscar Wilde's American lecture tour, and my comic about it, at