The Definitive Resource Of Oscar Wilde's Visits To America

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Strawn’s Opera House

Tuesday, March 7, 1882

The Decorative Arts


Newspaper report

The Jacksonville Journal, Mar 8, 1882

Wilde's lecture in Jacksonville, IL. It took place on one of eleven consecutive days that Wilde lectured in eleven different cities, often in rural areas to smaller houses. In 1882, Jacksonville was a city of around 11,500 (and had grown to only 19,446 at the 2010 census).

Ellmann records a letter held at Yale University that tells of a visit by Wilde to Illinois College while he was in Jacksonville. The letter, from the father of James Babb (a former director of the Yale University Library), describes Wilde's 'splendid diction and his descriptive powers,' and that his 'sentences are mellifluous and sparkle with occasional gems of beauty'.

Many thanks for
Rob Marland for his work in verifying this lecture


Opera House (Strawn’s Hall) * 

South side of the Square (now 

31 S Central Park, Jacksonville, IL 62650)

Built: 1861 (Jacob Strawn)

Seating: 1,000

Destroyed (fire): June 27, 1887

* Not to be confused with the Grand Opera House (b. 1892).


Wilde stayed overnight in Jacksonville, probably at the Southern, or possibly Dunlap House.

Oscar Wilde In America | © John Cooper, 2024