‘Oscar Wilde - A Vagabond with a Mission’ gives a vivid picture of Oscar Wilde lecturing throughout Britain and Ireland on his way to becoming one of the most famous writers of the time.
This is the first study of Wilde’s lecture tours of Britain and Ireland. Using letters, memoirs, biographies, previously unpublished information and thousands of contemporary newspaper accounts, I give a portrait of Wilde which we have never seen before.
Wilde lectured between 1883 and 1889 on important artistic and social topics of the day. Controversy was never far from everything he said and did. He drew audiences of thousands of people. Hitherto these lectures have been given little attention but they had significant implications for Wilde’s artistic development and they also gave him an opportunity to re-enter the world of journalism.
These were very important years for Wilde: he became engaged and married Constance Lloyd, he took a new home in Chelsea, became a father to two sons and was an increasingly active homosexual. All this happened as he travelled from Cornwall to Scotland, and from Norfolk to the west coast of Ireland, visiting almost every town of any significance in between.
In particular, this book looks in detail at Wilde’s visits to West Yorkshire, the North East of England, the Lake District, Scotland, Ireland and the West Midlands.
‘I have been,’ said Wilde, ‘civilising the provinces by my remarkable lectures … lecturing and wandering –a vagabond with a mission!’
Praise for ‘Oscar Wilde –A Vagabond With a Mission’
Geoff Dibb digs deep into ground over which Oscar's biographers have so far merely skated. His tireless researches have produced a treasure trove of lecture extracts, contemporary press reports and ephemera that shine significant new light on a formative period in Wilde's life and literary development.
JONATHAN FRYER Writer and broadcaster