People are sometimes surprised to learn that as young man Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), the poet, playwright and wit famous for his flamboyant and ultimately dramatic life in London and Paris, made two visits to America. Further, that each of these visits was important variously in informing his personal development, career, works, and legacy.
The first visit was for the entire year in 1882 during which Wilde conducting a Lecture Tour across the continent consisting of some 139 lectures spanning almost the entire year. The itinerary of this formative lecture tour has never been precisely compiled. There have been four major published versions but none agrees with any other. It is a major focus of this web site to provide a collaborative and definitive itinerary of the lecture tour using modern research techniques.
It was also shortly after his arrival in New York that photographs of Wilde were taken that have come to define the image we have of him today. In keeping with Wilde's desire for notoriety, one of these photographs was instrumental in establishing the U.S. law of copyright for photographs.
There have been countless thousands of performances of Wilde's plays worldwide in the last 130 years. But did you know that the first ever production of an Oscar Wilde play was in New York many years before his great success on the London stage? In August 1883 Wilde's early play Vera; or, The Nihilists was staged and Wilde made a second visit to America for a month to oversee the production.
In the world of Wilde scholarship there exists much historical information relating to his time in America: works, ephemera, photographs, quotations, interviews, and more. This archive is a selected resource.