Oscar Wilde Goes to California


Oscar Wilde’s long and eventful journey to California in 1882.

Those who have been following my verification of Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour of North America in 1882 will know that we have reached California.

Oscar Wilde’s journey to California was a significant event in itself as it constituted his longest period of continuous traveling—4 days and 4 nights—incorporating some 1867 miles and over 200 station stops. It was, as might be imagined with Oscar Wilde on board, a journey that was not without incident and experiences. Follow this link to trace Wilde’s Journey to California, discover the route, and learn about his adventures and life on board the train.

palacecourt1Oscar Wilde arrived on the west coast on Sunday, March 26, 1882. His train terminated at Oakland, from where he was taken by carriage to the wharf for the ferry-boat crossing to San Francisco. He was accompanied by many members of the press and a reception committee which had ferried over to Oakland by the 8:00 AM ferry that morning to meet him. In San Francisco he was whisked away to The Palace Hotel, the largest and one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, which was to be his base for the duration of his two weeks stay in California. Visit The Palace Hotel page on my web site where you can learn more about the building, enjoy an interview with Wilde, and read one of his letters.

waspWhile he was in San Francisco, as elsewhere, Oscar Wilde’s presence generated great interest, and not a little ridicule and parody. There appeared in The Wasp magazine, on March 31, 1882, a cartoon by G.F. Keller entitled The Modern Messiah. The image depicts the moment Wilde arrived in San Francisco greeted by thousands of people curious to see him, and includes several caricatures resonant of Wilde and his time in San Francisco. The cartoon is usually only seen online in a grainy monochrome. However, you can click the image to view a high resolution rendering as it originally appeared in color, together with a analysis of the featured characters and emblems.

Oscar Wilde lectured ten times in California, including four times in San Francisco. Each lectured is verified and described in detail at the following pages.

1. San Francisco (March 27)
2. Oakland (March 28)
3. San Francisco (March 29)
4.Oakland (March 30)
5. Sacramento (March 31)
6. San Francisco (April 1)
7. San Jose (April 3)
8. Stockton (April 4)
9. San Francisco (April 5)
10. Sacramento (April 8)

In comparison to previously published chronologies, one lecture date has been corrected (April 3) and one lecture added (April 8).

© John Cooper

Published by

John Cooper

John Cooper is a independent scholar who has spent 30 years in the study of Oscar Wilde. He is a long-standing member of the Oscar Wilde Society, a founding member of the Oscar Wilde Society of America, and a former manager of the Victorian Society In America. For the last 20 years Cooper has specialised in Wilde’s 1882 lecture tour becoming a consultant on Wilde’s American experience to biographers and the wider media. Cooper lectures on Wilde and has conducted new and unique research into Oscar Wilde visits to New York culminating in a guided walking tour. Online he is a popular blogger and the creator of the noncommercial archive 'Oscar Wilde in America’ which incorporates his work on the Sarony photographs, and a detailed documentary verification of Wilde’s American lecture tour. In 2012 Cooper rediscovered Wilde's essay The Philosophy Of Dress that forms the centerpiece to his book Oscar Wilde On Dress (2013).

5 thoughts on “Oscar Wilde Goes to California”

  1. For Hispanic readers, I wrote a novel about Oscar Wilde’s trip to North America. I hope it is translated into English, soon. It is a fiction, an intrigue novel: WILDE ENCADENADO with Wilde as one of its protagonists. Best regards and thank you very much for all the information on your website.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s