Oscar Wilde Lecture Tour: Boston

At 27-years-old, Wilde agreed to a year-long lecture tour throughout the United States. It was proposed to him as a publicity strategy for Gilbert and Sullivan’s satirical comic opera named Patience. His friend, George Grossmith, was an actor of the company, which is how he gained the opportunity. Grossmith played the main character––a poet dedicated to sensuous beauty, thus Wilde was the perfect poster boy. Wilde’s skill for publicity assisted the company; however, his true motive was to grow strong roots for the aesthetic movement and himself in the States. His controversial, feminine fashion and hair in photos gained him notoriety across the United States, including negative criticism. For example, sixty Harvard students dressed in caricatures of Wilde while sitting front-row at a Boston lecture. In contrast to this small incident, Boston is considered the most prominent American city for the aesthetic movement. A group called the Visionists, consisting of prominent artists and writers in Boston, aligned with Wilde and worked to spread the ideologies of aestheticism. His aesthetic lectures in Boston led him to be known for the quote: “The supreme object of life is to live. Few people live. It is true life only to realize one’s own perfection, to make one’s every dream a reality. Even this is possible.” By the time the lecture tour was over, he was an international celebrity.


FRIGO, NICK. “Posing and Posters: Oscar Wilde in America - 1882.” The Wildean, no. 30, 2007, pp. 73–85. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/45269065. 

Morgan, Benjamin. “Oscar Wilde's Un-American Tour: Aestheticism, Mormonism, and Transnational Resonance.” American Literary History, vol. 26, no. 4, 2014, pp. 664–692., www.jstor.org/stable/43818715.

“Oscar Wilde.” Broadview Anthology of British Literature, third ed., B, Broadview Press, Peterborough, Ontario, 2019, pp. 1157–1159. 

“Oscar Wilde Stirs Up Boston.” New England Historical Society, 18 Aug. 2019, www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/oscar-wilde-stirs-up-boston/.


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