There is such a wealth of Oscar Wilde ephemera surrounding his 1882 tour across America out there. Where to begin? Two items recently sifted to the top of my files.
I loved this newspaper clipping, printed that year:
“Frightened at Oscar Wilde”
“A nurse girl at the Octagon became so frightened at Oscar Wilde that she ran away, and in doing so tumbled into an open cellarway and bruised herself severely.” His every move caused a sensation.
But Wilde, who makes his cross-country trip in All the Time in the World, and who loved no poet more than John Keats, another All the Time in the World star, also had the chance to meet Keats’ niece while lecturing in Louisville. She gave him the original manuscript of Keats’ “Sonnet on Blue,” which he prized dearly. “What you have given me is more golden than gold,” Wilde wrote to her. “I am half enamored of the paper that touched his hand, and the ink that did his bidding…”
Some many years later when Wilde was jailed, his apartment was cleared out by creditors and his things were auctioned, including the poetic manuscript, sold for 38 shillings. Now no one knows what’s become of his copy of “Sonnet on Blue”…