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Oscar Wilde In America

a selected resource of oscar wilde's visits to america

Lincoln, NE

Address to students * | University Hall | Monday, April 24, 1882 (Morning)

* A short, impromptu talk, not advertised nor scheduled. See below for content and how the talk came about.

See also the scheduled evening lecture in Lincoln, NE.



Newspaper Report

The Weekly Nebraska State Journal, April 28, 1882, 8



Newspaper Report

Chicago Daily Tribune, April 25, 1882, 7


historical note

University Hall
11th and R Streets, Lincoln, NE now 920, O Street, Lincoln, NE

Built: 1869—1871
First class: September 1871
Premises: At the time of Wilde's visit, University Hall was the first and then still only building of the State University. It housed administration, a recitation hall, student classes, a boys' dormitory, the library, and a chapel (where Wilde gave his address).
Declared unsafe: 1925, after years of concern. That year the top two stories were removed.
Last class: May 21, 1948
Demolished: 1948


Nebraska-U, A collaborative History

"the sorrow of some common prisoner"

Oscar Unknowingly Glimpses His Future


After his visit to the University, Wilde was taken to the state penitentiary and asylum across town.

He wrote to Helena Sickert about the visit the following day from his next lecture stop in Fremont, NE. In the letter, Wilde reported the whitewashed cells, hideous dress and manual labor of the prisoners, unknowingly presaging the circumstances of his own incarceration years later in Reading Gaol, where Wilde also was to fear for his sanity.

Reading in Reading

In prison, Wilde had requested reading matter including the works of Dante. which he read in full. One observation in his letter about the Lincoln penitentiary strikingly anticipated his own future experience in Reading Gaol; he wrote:  

In one [cell] I found a translation of Dante, and a Shelley.  Strange and beautiful it seemed to me that the sorrow of a single Florentine in exile should, hundreds of years afterwards, lighten the sorrow of some common prisoner in a modern gaol.

(Letters, p. 165)

Historical Images of the State University Building




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