The ship on which Oscar Wilde first sailed to America was the Guion passenger liner S.S. Arizona.
Apart from providing Oscar with his famously disappointing experience of the Atlantic, the ship would have little significance in the story of Oscar Wilde, and would normally go unrecognized did it not itself have some noteworthy historical interest.
Arizona entered service in 1879 working the Liverpool-Queenstown-New York route mainly as an immigrant ship, and soon held prestigious record times for the crossing (picture top).
In August of her first year a notorious murder took place on board, and not long afterwards, in November, the ship collided head-on with an iceberg en route from New York to Liverpool.
Undaunted by this inauspicious start to her career, Arizona continued to ply her trade until finding fame as the ship that both Oscar Wilde (for his 1882 Lecture Tour) and famous actress Lillie Langtry ventured aboard for their inaugural visits to America.
Arizona was laid up in Scotland between 1894-97 and rebuilt with one funnel. She was briefly employed in the Pacific before being sold to the War Department and used for Army transport. In 1902, she was acquired by the US Navy for use as a receiving ship at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and recommissioned as Hancock. (picture bottom).
She served also as a troopship in the First World War and continued in various duties until she was sold for scrap in May 1926.
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