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Oscar Wilde In America

oscar wilde's 1882 lecture tour of america

Utica, NY

The English Renaissance/The Decorative Arts* | City Opera House | Monday, February 6, 1882

* See clarification below.



Newspaper report

Reno Evening Gazette, February 7, 1882


Utica Sunday Tribune, February 5, 1882, 1



As to subject

Around this time Wilde changed the name and content of his lecture.

Merlin Holland (Complete Letters) describes how Wilde's original lecture was 'too lengthy and theoretical for many in his audience' and that Wilde shortened and retitled it to give it wider appeal.

This explains why the two press clippings on this page indicate different subjects for the Utica lecture.

The new lecture became variously billed as Art Decoration, Decorative Art in America, etc., and it is probable that Wilde adapted them slightly to suit different audiences' (Holland). For this reason all variants of this lectures are listed in this chronology as 'The Decorative Arts'.

But when and where did Wilde switch from The English Renaissance to The Decorative Arts? In this lecture in Utica conducted 'under the auspices of the 'Household Art Rooms' there are suggestions Wilde had already begun to include material suggestive of a more domestic theme, and the transition does appear to have been an evolution. However, in accepting this, Kevin O'Brien in Oscar Wilde in Canada: An Apostle for the Arts (1982), posits that Wilde delivered The English Renaissance for the last time in Buffalo on February 8 and The Decorative Arts for the first time in Chicago (his next lecture) on February 13. This appears to be a convenient demarcation.

See here for a review of all Wilde's Lecture Titles.


City Opera House
Genesee and Pearl Streets, Utica, NY



Brief visit

Wilde traveled to Utica in the drawing room car of the New York train arriving on the evening of the lecture - a little later than expected at 5:15 PM.

He would have needed his famous fur overcoat as he arrived amid banks of snow in the city.

Following the lecture to a "large and cultivated" audience he was given a reception at the home of former mayor Charles W. Hutchinson, and then entertained at the Utica Club before being driven to the depot to catch an onward train at 11:22 PM that evening.

The Daily Observer, (Utica, NY) Feb 8th, 1882.

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