Oscar Wilde could be found almost everywhere in 1882.
This phenomenon has been well-documented, most recently in David Friedman’s Wilde in America (2014) which portrays Wilde as being so intent upon fame that he had a strategy for achieving it—a view with much validity.
Whatever Wilde’s personal strategy was, however, he was compounded in the effort by his own tour publicity, the popularity of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience and its burlesques, and a general curiosity of the people to see him. As a result, one might wonder whether it is possible to be too ubiquitous.
Take the world of advertising.
Wilde was so famous on his American tour that his name was used by advertisers to generate media exposure for products with which he had no connection.
In an earlier article I tried to show that in John Gambril Nicholson’s verse Of Boys’ Names (Wilde’s putative source of the Ernest/Earnest pun) there are other boys’ names with Wildean parallels.
Research now leads me to a further connection.
In a back issue of The Book Collector (Summer, 1978), there is chapter about Nicholson’s 1892 Love in Earnest: Sonnets, Ballades, and Lyrics (the anthology that includes the poem in question).
The reason for interest among bibliophiles in 1978 was that Nicholson’s own copy of the book had just come to light in a Cambridge (UK) bookshop—and The Book Collector made some intriguing revelations.