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1883 – Oscar Wilde Visits Staffordshire

Oscar Wilde’s lecture tours are a less well known episode in the history of his rise to fame. In 1882 he travelled to the United States and Canada to deliver a lecture tour announcing on his arrival at customs in New York City that he had “nothing to declare but his genius.” On returning to Great Britain he embarked on national tours to lecture on his impressions of America and his opinions about art and home decor. During the six years that followed his American tour Wilde married, and moved into a house in Chelsea which he decorated to the high aesthetic standards exemplified in his lectures on “The House Beautiful”. He became a father (twice), took up the post of editor of the Woman’s World magazine and also found the time to be actively engaged in love and sex with other men. Throughout this time he also toured the UK giving lectures including appearances at several venues in Staffordshire:

Mon 12th Nov 1883 – “The House Beautiful” at St James Hall, Lichfield

In the archives of local newspapers this lecture was advertised in the Lichfield Mercury on 26th Oct 1883 and 2nd Nov 1883 and reported in the Lichfield Mercury on the 9th Nov 1883 and 16th November 1883


Wed Nov 14th 1883 – “The House Beautiful” at St Pauls Institute, Burton-on-Trent

Advertised in the Burton and Derby Gazette, 13th and 14th Nov 1883 and reported afterwards on Nov 16th

Tue Nov 27th 1883 – “My Personal Impressions of America” at the Lyceum Theatre, Stafford

A lecture delivered under the auspices of the mechanics institute reported in the Staffordshire Advertiser, Dec 1st 1883.

Feb 25th 1884 – “The House Beautiful” at the Temperance Hall in Leek

This picture shows a printed handbill advertising Oscar Wilde’s lecture at the Temperance Hall, Leek entitled ‘The House Beautiful’. Digital images of the whole handbill front and reverse can be viewed on the Staffordshire Past Track website here.

April 1884 – Stoke and Fenton School of Art

In April 1884 Oscar Wilde attended a presentation of prizes at the Stoke and Fenton School of Art. The article shown here is from the Evening Sentinel, Saturday 26th April 1884. The article refers to the event having taken place on Saturday afternoon and this was most likely the previous Saturday 19th April.

The full article can be read here

Nov 5th 1884 – ‘The Value of Art in Modern Life’ at Town Hall, Stoke-on-Trent.

Oscar Wilde’s lecture at Stoke Town Hall is mentioned in a well researched article  published in The Wildean, No. 27 (July 2005), pp. 29-36 (8 pages) )  However, we have so far been unable to verify this in local newspaper archives.

Nov 11th 1884 – The Mechanics Hall, Hanley “My Personal Impressions of America”

There is, however, a record of Oscar Wilde delivering a lecture  at the Mechanics Hall in Hanley on Nov 11th which was reported in the Newcastle Guardian on Nov 15th 1884.

A little more than ten years after delivering his lectures in Staffordshire, Oscar Wilde mounted a now infamous libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry which sadly led to his own court appearance and conviction for the crime of gross indecency. Wilde was sentenced to two years’ hard labour, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897.

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