Oscar Wilde In America

DETAiled verification of Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour of North America


New York

Grand Opera House

Tuesday, February 7, 1882

The English Renaissance

See Clarification Below


Newspaper report

Utica Weekly Herald, February 14, 1882

Police were called to Wilde lecture after students from Rochester University caused a disturbance and had to be ejected.


As to Lecture 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.

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 an interview with Wilde printed in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, February 8th, 1882, 4, the lecture subject is cited as The English Renaissance, but a suggestion of change had already begun with Wilde’s lecture in Utica on February 6. 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. Therefore this Rochester lecture was still in a state of transition.

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


Grand Opera House

S. St. Paul Street (later South Avenue), Rochester, NY

Opened: 1871 (John Rochester Thomas, designer)

Destroyed (fire): February 19th, 1891

The New York Times, February 20th, 1891


New Osburn House

South St. Paul Street, Rochester, NY

Built: 1880-81

Opened: 1881

Rebuilt and refurnished: 1892-93

Rooms: 194

Demolished: 1959

Not This One

(The first) Osburn House

East Main Street, corner of North St. Paul, Rochester, NY


In an interview with Wilde printed in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, February 8th, 1882, 4, Wilde alluded to ruins and curiosities originally being used in connection with Charles Dickens. See Quotations.

Rochester Regrets

Newspaper report

Rochester Union and Advertiser, February 8th, 1882

Recommended reading:

Search Site

Oscar Wilde In America | © John Cooper, 2020