Little Oscar and the Art of the Illustrated Letter

Have you noticed how most of Victorian life appears to correspond? Everyone seems to know everyone else, and one thing usually leads to another. Well it’s the same with Victorian studies,

On my agenda last week were two pieces of business:

First was research into a parody of Wilde and Walt Whitman written by Helen Gray Cone entitled “Narcissus in Camden” which casts the two poets as ancient Greek poseurs, and needless to say, Wilde is Narcissus. It appeared in the November 1882 issue of the Century magazine. Incidentally, the reason for my Wilde/Whitman pursuit relates to the need to counter some juvenile online speculation about their famous meetings in Camden, New Jersey.

Second was a periodic pilgrimage to the Mark Samuels Lasner collection at the University of Delaware, one of the country’s foremost collections of books, manuscripts, letters, and artworks by British cultural figures who flourished between 1850 and 1900, One such figure was Edward Carpenter, and the ostensible purpose of my visit was to accompany an Edward-expert friend to see Carpenter’s inscribed books and Rothenstein’s chalk sketch. of the man.

These two diversions came together, in a roundabout way in a pleasing piece of Victorian correspondence.

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