Sharon Springs, NY


My research into Oscar Wilde’s 1882 lecture tour of North America has often found me in his large, and daunting, footsteps.

It began over 20 years ago with a guided tour of New York City where Oscar spent more time than anywhere else on the continent; and my work has since encompassed journeys to many places Oscar knew, several of which have including speaking engagements in places ranging from the same theatre of the upscale Newport Casino in Rhode Island where Oscar ushered in Mrs Vanderbilt with a witty remark, to the good folk of the Agriculture Resource Council at their Sunflower Soirée in a field in Maryland.

But never before I have replicated Oscar’s tour so closely as I shall on August 11, 2022, when, 140 years to the day that Oscar Wilde gave a talk in Sharon Springs, NY, as part of a Summer vacation in the Catskills, I shall be doing precisely the same. Or, more formally, I shall be delivering the Klinkhart Hall Arts Center’s inaugural Oscar Wilde Memorial Lecture.

The event is allied to the Arts Center’s wider Poetry Festival, an annual tradition established by Festival founder Paul Muldoon, the award-winning Irish poet and professor of poetry, at which distinguished poets are invited to read, talk about their work, and conduct poetry workshops, all free to the public.

© John Cooper, 2022

Wilde Fire

tootles1

In my latest post about Wilde in St. Joseph, I mentioned Tootles Opera House quite forgetting that I had blogged about its demise at the time.

Here it is that post again.


SAY IT AIN’T SO, ST. JOE.

What a shame. The venue where Oscar Wilde lectured in St. Joseph, Missouri in April 1882, was destroyed by fire on Monday this week.

No longer a theater, it may have been just another empty converted office building symbolic of a Midwest hollowed out by recession, but it was still there. Unlike so many of the Wilde’s lecture venues which were lost to fire in gaslit days, surely, one thought, this building had survived that fate.

Gutted

But no, and here’s what makes the loss a little more personal.

Just a day earlier I had been discussing which city from Wilde’s lecture tour that I would most like to visit. No kidding. I said St Joseph, Missouri. One reason was that  both Wilde’s hotel and lecture theater were extant, and very few cities that can boast that—although there is one fewer now.

There was also much history attached to the city, and I have already featured the story of Wilde’s hotel on this blog here: Oscar Wilde’s Pony Tale, and thankfully that building remains. But we must now bid farewell to Wilde’s lecture theater. Somewhere, the grand chandelier grows dim one last time.

Continue reading Wilde Fire

Narragansett Pier

Mathewson
—A Newly Discovered Lecture—

In verifying Oscar Wilde’s 1882 lecture tour of North America, it was prudent to begin with the four published itineraries by Mikhail, Ellmann, Page, and Beckson. [1]

Unfortunately, none of these chronologies agrees with any other, and each is either incomplete or wrong in various respects—so it has been necessary to make numerous additions and corrections to dates, locations and lecture titles. [2]

It is a pleasing break to the routine when one discovers something new, such as a previously unrecorded event. Or, rarer still, a previously unknown lecture, as was the case with the redefining of Wilde’s final stop of the tour in New York on November 27, 1882.

Now another new lecture has emerged: it is an appearance by Wilde at Narragansett Pier. Where is Narragansett Pier?—you might ask.

Continue reading Narragansett Pier

Wilde Fire

tootles1

SAY IT AIN’T SO, ST. JOE.

What a shame. The venue where Oscar Wilde lectured in St. Joseph, Missouri in April 1882, was destroyed by fire on Monday this week.

No longer a theater, it may have been just another empty converted office building symbolic of a Midwest hollowed out by recession, but it was still there. Unlike so many of the Wilde’s lecture venues which were lost to fire in gaslit days, surely, one thought, this building had survived that fate.

Gutted

But no, and here’s what makes the loss a little more personal.

Just a day earlier I had been discussing which city from Wilde’s lecture tour that I would most like to visit. No kidding. I said St Joseph, Missouri. One reason was that  both Wilde’s hotel and lecture theater were extant, and very few cities that can boast that—although there is one fewer now.

Continue reading Wilde Fire

Niagara Falls

Prospect-house-TC

Next month I go to speak at the Oscar Wilde conference “Wilde on the Borders” at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Whenever I travel to give a talk on Wilde, especially to places such as in New York City, Brooklyn, or Philadelphia, where Wilde also lectured, I always feel that I am following in his footsteps. After all, we share the same mission: that of promoting Oscar Wilde.

Going With The Flow

It is the now the turn of Niagara Falls, and, although Wilde did not speak publicly there (he lectured in nearby in Buffalo, New York), he did take a sojourn from his tour to visit Niagara and play tourist for a couple of days.

Continue reading Niagara Falls

The Dilemma of Movements

durleyhall

The Scatology of Oscar Wilde’s Bloomington lecture

Local councillors in Bloomington, IL had a committee meeting arranged for the evening of March 10, 1882, so when Oscar Wilde was announced to lecture later the same evening it was always going to be a tough choice: whether to attend the reported tedium of Oscar’s aesthetic lecture on art decoration or continue in contemplating the town drainage—which was the pressing agendum that evening.

Continue reading The Dilemma of Movements