A Scene at Long Beach

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The intrigue that followed a chance meeting with Oscar Wilde in 1882.

A young girl whom Oscar Wilde met on vacation in 1882 became the lover of Wilde’s future niece and also had an affair with Wilde’s own lover’s future wife.

Confused? Then read on.

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Sam Ward, also seated in the above illustration.

It all began when Sam Ward, the author, gourmand and political lobbyist who had taken Wilde under his wing in America, invited him to Long Beach, the seaside resort on Long Island, New York.

After the holiday, on July 31, 1882, Ward wrote to his niece Maud Howe [1]:

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Conspicuous (Even By His Absence)

Oscar Wilde could be found almost everywhere in 1882.

2This phenomenon has been well-documented, most recently in David Friedman’s Wilde in America (2014) which portrays Wilde as being so intent upon fame that he had a strategy for achieving it—a view with much validity.

Whatever Wilde’s personal strategy was, however, he was compounded in the effort by his own tour publicity, the popularity of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience and its burlesques, and a general curiosity of the people to see him. As a result, one might wonder whether it is possible to be too ubiquitous.

Take the world of advertising.

Wilde was so famous in on his American tour that his name was used by advertisers to generate media exposure for products with which he had no connection.

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Quixote of the Queer

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A verse parody that appeared just three weeks after Oscar Wilde arrived in America.

Below is one of many such newspaper items that appeared in 1882 poking fun at Wilde and the aesthetic movement.

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More on Boys’ Names

book-collectorThe source of Oscar Wilde’s pun on Ernest/Earnest

In an earlier article I tried to show that in John Gambril Nicholson’s verse Of Boys’ Names (Wilde’s putative source of the Ernest/Earnest pun) there are other boys’ names with Wildean parallels.

Research now leads me to a further connection.

In a back issue of The Book Collector (Summer, 1978), there is chapter about Nicholson’s 1892 Love in Earnest: Sonnets, Ballades, and Lyrics (the anthology  that includes the poem in question).

The reason for interest among bibliophiles in 1978 was that Nicholson’s own copy of the book had just come to light in a Cambridge (UK) bookshop—and The Book Collector made  some intriguing revelations.

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