Men of Letters

A.A. Milne and Z.Z. Top are not just at the opposite ends of the 20th century’s cultural and chronological spectrum, they are also polar examples of another kind.  I mean, of course, in the alphabetical use of two initials as a form of nomenclature, which, as a device, often makes for a memorable moniker. Oscar Wilde, in his time, knew a few characters thus named, including two of the most celebrated: W. B. Yeats and H. G. Wells.

However, on this day I should like to focus on two similarly styled, but lesser known, artists in the Wilde story, for they share a bond more profound than the form of their familiar names: I refer to F. D. Millet and W.T. Stead.

F. D. MILLET
Portrait_of_Frank_Millet_by_his_contemporary,_author_and_illustrator_George_Du_Maurier,_from_Harper's_New_Monthly_Magazine_for_June_1889
F. D. Millet, portrait by George Du Maurier, 1889.


Francis Davis Millet
was an American painter, sculptor, and writer with whom Wilde became acquainted quite early on in his American lecture tour of 1882.

On January 11 that year Millet was invited to a reception given for Wilde at the Dress Association on W. 23rd St., hosted by the proprietor of that cooperative enterprise, the journalist and actress, Kate Field. Also present were the actress Clara Morris, E.C. Stedman, and other artists and painters including Elihu Vedder.

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A Moment of Gravity

wilde-niagara-quote.jpg

You will recall that in my recent review of Wilde and Niagara I cited the entry that Oscar Wilde’s had made in the guestbook of his hotel on the Canadian side at Niagara Falls.

Well, having visited the area myself, I now have an illustration of his inscription (above) and, to reiterate, this is what it says:

the roar of these waters is like the roar when the “mighty wave democracy breaks against the shores where kings lie couched at ease.”

When Oscar wrote this he was doing several things at once.

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