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Finding Aid for the Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Wildeiana MS.Wildeiana
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Provenance
  • Access
  • Restrictions on Use
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Note
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization
  • Separately Described Materials
  • Related Materials

  • Title: Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Wildeiana,
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.Wildeiana
    Contributing Institution: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 7.0 Linear feet 17 boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1858-1998
    Abstract: This finding aid describes a wide-ranging collection of material relating to Oscar Wilde and to his literary and artistic circle in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Great Britain.
    Physical location: Clark Library.
    General Physical Description note: 8 feet of bound volumes.
    creator: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.


    William Andrews Clark, Jr. acquired the nucleus of the Clark Library's Oscar Wilde collection from Dulau and Company, London, in 1929. Most of the Dulau material had been in the possession of Robert B. Ross (Oscar Wilde's literary executor), Christopher S. Millard (a.k.a. Stuart Mason, the Wilde bibliographer), and Vyvyan B. Holland (Wilde's only surviving son). Since 1929, the Clark Library has steadily purchased important new material and in the year 2000, the collection was estimated to contain over 65,000 items.


    Collection is open for research.

    Restrictions on Use

    Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
    For additional copyright information related to Oscar Wilde, contact Merlin Holland (email: merlin.holland[at]wanadoo.fr).

    Alternate Forms Available

    Microfilm copies of portions of the collection are available for patron use.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, subseries and series], Oscar Wilde and His Literary Circle Collection: Wildeiana. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Processing Note

    Many of the manuscript and print materials described within this finding aid have also been cataloged individually. Those individual records for print materials are available via the UCLA Library's online catalog, while the records for manuscript materials are accessible only through a physical card catalog located at the Clark.
    In 1957, a printed catalog of all Wilde-related works then owned by the Clark Library (approximately 2900 items) was compiled by John Charles Finzi and published as Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle by the University of California Press. Over the course of the next four decades, many new Clark acquisitions were added to the collection and approximately one-third of the collection was microfilmed at least once.
    In 2000, the first version of the Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle online finding aid, which described all archival materials in the Clark collections related to Wilde and his circle was written and encoded in EAD by John Howard Fowler. In 2009, this original finding aid was separated into several parts, edited and re-encoded by Rebecca Fenning in order to make its very large size (over 1000 pages) and scope more manageable for researchers. Instead of one guide describing the entire collection, there are now 5 more easily navigated guides devoted to different components of the collection: Correspondence,  Manuscripts and Miscellaneous Materials,  Wildeiana,  Forgeries  and the James Lewis May Papers. 
    The Wildeiana collection was re-inventoried by Jamie Henricks in March 2010 to more accurately reflect the current locations of items in the collection.

    Biographical Note

    Oscar Wilde was born Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde in Dublin, Ireland, October 16, 1854. He attended Trinity College and Magdalen College, Oxford, winning the Newdigate prize in 1878 for the poem Ravenna. He subsequently established himself in London society as a champion of the new Aesthetic movement, advocating "art for art's sake," and publishing reviews and his Poems (1881). After being satirized (and made famous) as Bunthorne, the fleshly aesthetic poet in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience, he made a year-long lecture tour of the United States, speaking on literature and the decorative arts. After his return to London, he married Constance Lloyd in 1884; they had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan Holland. In 1891 he met and began a love affair with the handsome but temperamental poet, Lord Alfred Douglas.
    The 1890s saw both Wilde's greatest literary triumphs and his tragic downfall. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray , appeared in 1891. The most famous of his witty social comedies-- Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)--were written and produced for the London stage. But in 1895, after becoming entangled in an unsuccessful libel suit against Douglas's father, Wilde was prosecuted for homosexuality. Convicted, he was sentenced to two years' hard labor.
    While in prison, Wilde wrote De Profundis, a letter to Douglas, and after his release, he published the long poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898). But despite these final works, his career was essentially over. Bankrupt and in exile, his health ruined in prison, he died in Paris in 1900.

    Scope and Content

    The Oscar Wilde and His Literary Circle Collection of Papers is comprised of correspondence, draft manuscripts, notebooks, photographs, drawings, newspaper clippings and other items that reflect the life of Oscar Wilde in the context of the literary world of his day. The Wildeiana finding aid describes the ephemera and related materials portions of this collection, which includes photographs and portraits of Wilde and his colleagues, literary and theater reviews, clippings, correspondence related to exhibitions and conferences on Wilde, and various other materials.


    This collection is organized into the following series:
    1. Series 1. Ancillary Materials, 1858-1998, undated
    2. Series 2. Collection Management, Exhibitions, and Relations with Other Collections, 1887-1996, undated
    Items listed below may include references to the numbers assigned to them in John Charles Finzi's Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle, and/or their item numbers from the 1929 Dulau auction catalog. Some items may also include references to available microfilm copies. The Clark Library shelfmark will always be given, but all unbound materials are also identified by their box and folder numbers.
    Items organized by date are organized by the earliest possible date assignable. The most likely approximation of the date will usually be found in the shelfmark of each item.

    Separately Described Materials

    The following finding aids represent other segments of the Oscar Wilde collection at the Clark Library:
    1. Note

      Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection : Forgeries, 1887-1900. MS. Wilde.
    2. Note

      Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection : Manuscripts and Miscellaneous Materials, 1819-1995. MS. Wilde.
    3. Note

      Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection : Correspondence, 1819, 1849-1957, 1962. MS. Wilde.

    Related Materials

    The Clark Library also holds the following collections related to or created by other members of Wilde's extended circle:
    1. Note

      James Lewis May Papers, 1814-1963. MS.1976.013.
      Finding aid available via the Online Archive of California. 
    2. Note

      Robert Harborough Sherard Collection, 1881-1987. MS.1997.004 and MS.1997.005.
      Finding aid available via the Online Archive of California. 
    3. Note

      John Stuart Verschoyle Papers, 1884-1914. MS.2007.001.
      Finding aid available via the Online Archive of California. 

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Beerbohm, Max, Sir, 1872-1956
    Bryan, Alfred, 1852-1899
    Clark, William Andrews, 1877-1934
    Douglas, Alfred Bruce, Lord, 1870-1945
    Millard, Christopher, 1872-1927
    Wilde, Constance, 1858-1898
    Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900--Dramatic production
    Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900