Piecing together history: Oscar Wilde’s mail arrives
When I was preparing my recent posting about Oscar Wilde and his lecture in Bloomington during the local council drainage meeting, I was reminded that Wilde once wrote a letter from Bloomington.
A moment’s research led to a minor historical jigsaw.
In the Complete Letters (p. 147) there is an undated letter from Wilde to his manager written from Bloomington, Illinois. As Wilde spent only one day in Bloomington, this letter can now be dated March 10. It begins:
Dear Colonel Morse, The mail has just arrived.
Not an earth-shattering event in itself, although I’m sure Oscar was pleased to hear from friends overseas. But turning to Bloomington’s daily paper The Pantagraph, we see that Wilde’s account was in balance. The newspaper contains a report below  which confirms that there was indeed correspondence that Wilde had “just received.”
Moreover, we learn that one letter he received that day was from Lillie Langtry, and that he clipped her signature from the note as a presentation to Theodore Braley, the editor of a local newspaper.
Braley died in 1919 but what did he do with that autograph?
I’m sure collectors are suspicious of signatures clipped from their provenance, but one wonders whether the example of Langtry’s autograph at the top of this page (taken from an online auction) is the very one Oscar presented that day.
 The Pantagraph (Bloomington), March 13, 1882, p.4