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Oscar Wilde In America

oscar wilde's 1882 lecture tour of america

Chicago, IL

The House Beautiful* | Central Music-Hall | Saturday, March 11, 1882

* See note below.



Newspaper Report

The Chicago Tribune, March 12, 1882, p.5



Newspaper Report

The Inter Ocean (Chicago), March 13, 1882, p.2


* The parting shot referred in the sub-header was a satirical verse by the singer and poet Arabella Root de l'Armitage (see below)


Newspaper advertisement

The Chicago Tribune, March 11, 1882, p.7



As to lecture title

Just as Wilde's first visit to Chicago had seen a development in his lecture subject, so this, his second visit to Chicago, saw Wilde inaugurate a new, more domesticated, lecture.

It became known as 'The House Beautiful' but it began life here as 'Interior and Exterior House Decoration'. Later, and, confusingly, it was given the shorthand 'Art Decoration', with an occasionally longer more descriptive subtitle, such as in Philadelphia on May 10.

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

The subject was a domesticated version of his general theme that focused on the beauty of handicrafts in the home such as in furniture, carving, and wallpaper.

historical note

Central Music-Hall
SE corner of State and Randolph Streets, Chicago, IL

Built: Dankmar Adler, 1879
Demolished: 1900


This was the first important building designed by Adler in which he made use of his knowledge of acoustics. It was replaced in 1900, around the time Adler died, in order to build the Marshall Field & Company store, now Macy's.

Source: Wikipedia

The Grand Pacific Hotel (1873–1895) on Clark, Quincy, LaSalle and Jackson Streets where Wilde stayed on his visits to Chicago.

After first lecturing in Chicago on February 13, Wilde returned to the city on February 28 after traveling overnight from his latest lecture in Springfield.

He took some time to rest—and also the opportunity to write to Walt Whitman to arrange a second meeting with the great American poet—before embarking on a series of lectures on eleven consecutive days in eleven midwest towns beginning in Dubuque on March 1.

For this leg of his tour, Wilde made Chicago something of a hub, returning at least once to the Grand Pacific (e.g. on March 4th) before arriving back again on March 11 for his second Chicago lecture noted on this page.


The hotel was built after the Chicago fire (1871) and was itself replaced by a hotel of the same name in 1895-98.



The Encyclopedia of Chicago, The Newberry Library. [detailed view]



Satirical verse by the singer and poet Arabella Root de l'Armitage (see The Seraphic Oscar above left)


Arabella Root

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