[Wilde, Oscar. (1854–1900)]
"Mr. Oscar Wilde's Lecture...Personal Impressions of America" - Original Program
Extraordinary item related to the Irish playwright and leader of the Aesthetic Movement, an original program from a lecture given at The Princes' Hall in Piccadilly on Tuesday, July 10th 1883, entitled "Personal Impressions of America." Bifold. Printed in brown ink on patinated paper by W.F. Morse, who is identified as Wilde's lecture manager. Staining to rear cover, else in fine condition. 6.125 x 9.25 inches (15.6 x 23.5 cm.). The present item is neither in Mason's bibliography nor mentioned by Ellmann, and appears to be unrecorded.
From the present program: "The American tour of Mr. Oscar Wilde covered a period of nearly a year's continuous travel. He visited 34 States and Territories, as well as all parts of the Dominion of Canada, travelling for this purpose upwards of 30,000 miles, and his opportunities for accurate observation of the national and social life of American people were exceptionally favourable...Mr. Wilde will offer some observations upon dress for both sexes, with special reference to his own personal attempts to influence American tastes in favour of the adoption of a more graceful style than that which at present prevails."
Wilde, who was eager to make an international reputation, first came to America on a lecture tour arranged by the English impresario, Richard d'Oyly Carte (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame), arriving on the SS Arizona on January 3rd, 1882, this being the date of his famous quip to the NY Customs House officer that he had "nothing to declare except my genius." On a grueling schedule Wilde toured the United States and Canada, lecturing on aestheticism in a new town every few days and though the tour was originally planned to last four months, it was continued for over a year, giving approximately 141 lectures (the exact itinerary has never been agreed upon). On his return home, he generated further revenue from the experience by presenting his American impressions to the English, 'a mixed bag of comments on scenery, people, art, theatre, done with great wit.' (Richard Ellman)