The item is a note sent by Wilde to Anne Lynch Botta, the 19th century doyenne of New York literary society, in which he expresses regret at not being able to attend a reception owing to his impending departure for Canada.
Aided by the letter’s evident authenticity and the fact that the consignor is a direct family descendant, it sold at auction for $5,500.
The excerpt below is from Current Literature—a journal of the Current Literature Publishing Co. (New York) which published monthly periodicals from 1888 to 1912.
This account is from an article in the October 1905 edition entitled “How Oscar Wilde Died” which was given to deny claims in a earlier issue that Oscar was still alive. Its source was the Paris correspondent of the BerlinerTageblatt.
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.
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.
Today is the birthday of a famous Irishman and, lest I insult your knowledge, I should quickly add that I do not refer to our boy above. Wildeans, of course, need no reminding that Oscar celebrates his birthday on October 16th.
Consider instead a curiosity about the date in Irish lore.
PHILADELPHIA LIBRARY ACQUIRES RARE TYPESCRIPT OF UNPUBLISHED PORTIONS OF WILDE’S “DE PROFUNDIS”
On a balmy Sunday lunchtime last Spring I found myself in the refreshment area of the prestigious New York Antiquarian Book Fair. The ambience and the food were very pleasant, perhaps suspiciously so, which I should have seen as a portent for what I was about to discover had I not been obliviously fitting in.
My café table had an inlaid chessboard and the kindly stranger opposite made the first move. “Are you a dealer or a collector?” he asked, with an air of inevitability that suggested a third alternative had not previously existed. As I was that third alternative I countered with the department store defense: “I’m just browsing,” I said vaguely. It was a gambit designed to replace the probability of being neither with the possibility of being either.
However, it soon became apparent to me, if not to my new friend, that even the rank of ‘browser‘ had wildly overstated my standing.
Richard Le Gallienne is the subject of an exhibition in his home town of Liverpool to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth. The event is being curated by two stalwart supporters of late-Victorian authors and artists, Mark Samuels Lasner and Margaret D. Stetz—authors and artists themselves.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Liverpool Central Library will bring together these and other scholars and collectors from the UK and the US for a one-day symposium about the city as a literary and cultural centre at the end of the 19th century.