St. Patrick’s Day 1882

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On St. Patrick’s Day 1882, during his lecture tour of north America, Oscar Wilde happened to be in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He had lectured the previous evening at the Opera House on The Decorative Arts, and, on the following evening, he returned to the same venue to attended a St.Patrick’s Day gathering. St. Paul was a city with a large Irish population and the event was one of several held that day to observe the occasion.

Despite inclement weather, the Opera House was full for a series of addresses on an Irish theme interspersed with vocal and instrumental selections. Towards the end of proceedings, Wilde was called upon to say a few impromptu words.

Clearly moved by the Irish sentiment abroad, and the favorable mention of his mother’s (Speranza) nationalistic poetry, he gave what can now be seen as a rare, and perhaps even uncharacteristic, speech about Irish patriotism—albeit from the perspective of the Arts.

Here is a review of Wilde’s appearance at the event taken from Daily Globe (St. Paul), of March 18, 1882, page 1.

Wilde-In-St-Paul-1 copy Wilde-In-St-Paul-2 copy Wilde-In-St-Paul-3 copy


Oscar Wilde’s lecture in San Francisco on Irish Poets.

Published by

John Cooper

John Cooper is a researcher, author, blogger and documentary historian. As a long-standing member of the Oscar Wilde Society in London, a founding member of the Oscar Wilde Society of America, and a former manager of the Victorian Society In America, he has spent 30 years in the study of Oscar Wilde, having lectured on Wilde, and contributing to TV, film, and academic journals including The Wildean and Oscholars. Online he is the designer, author and editor of this noncommercial archive Oscar Wilde in America, blogger, and moderator of the Oscar Wilde Internet discussion groups at Yahoo and Google. For the last 14 years he has specialized in new and unique research into Oscar Wilde in New York, where he conducts guided walking tours based on the visits of Oscar Wilde. In 2012 John rediscovered Oscar Wilde's essay The Philosophy Of Dress that forms the centerpiece to his recent book Oscar Wilde On Dress (2013).

7 thoughts on “St. Patrick’s Day 1882”

  1. I’m sure Oscar said that in many a city, although it’s true the further West he went, the more he liked it. He also met the most beautiful women, and woman, in America in at least six states.


  2. Dear John,

    Thanks for making yet another fascinating newspaper article on Wilde available on your entertaining and enlightening website. Perhaps readers interested in this piece, and in Wilde’s Irish patriotism and his political views, would like to read the in-depth discussion of these topics contained in the following article:

    Thomas Wright & Paul Kinsella: Oscar Wilde, A Parnellite Home Ruler and Gladstonian Liberal: Wilde’s career at the Eighty Club (1887–1895).

    It was posted on the Oscholars website and can be downloaded free of charge here –

    The article collects, contextualizes and analyzes Wilde’s public expressions of patriotism, and his staunch commitment to the Parnellite nationalist cause. These statements were far more numerous and committed than has sometimes been supposed.

    Keep up the good work!

    Thomas Wright

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with Tom! Not entirely uncharacteristic comments by Wilde.
      Also I did give some coverage of Wilde’s Irish comments in his UK lectures in my book Vagabond with a Mission.


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