The Definitive Resource Of Oscar Wilde's Visits To America

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Armory Hall
Thursday, March 30, 1882

The Decorative Arts


Newspaper report

Oakland Tribune, March 31, 1882

Newspaper Advertisement

Oakland Tribune, March 29, 1882, p.2


Armory Hall (Oakland Light Calvary)

Corner of Twelfth and Washington Streets, Oakland, CA


Oakland Tribune, April 1, 1882, 3

Gay Bears

The photograph shows Berkeley alumnus William D. Armes in his retirement. But at the age of 22 (Class of 1882) Armes was described by the campus newspaper as the brilliant young local apostle of Wilde, and he duly served as host when Oscar toured the Berkeley campus on March 30, 1882.

After the tour of the campus the two men dined in Armes' rented rooms in Oakland and clearly they made a connection for they met again before Wilde left the Bay Area: Armes' autograph book contains an manuscript copy by Oscar Wilde of his poem Requiescat, dated April 6, 1882, [San Francisco].

Armes later joined the college faculty and remained at Berkeley until his death, serving as Associate Professor of American Literature in the English Department. For many years he directed the music and drama program at the Greek Theatre, and he amassed a world-class collection of Japanese prints, which he bequeathed to the University.

The Blue and Gold [yearbook of the University of California, Berkeley] for 1899 includes this prescient reference: 

"The following was told by Prof. Armes of himself: 'When I was six [years] of age, I stood in a corner and wept copiously, because I had not been born a girl, and,' he added, 'I have never gotten over my disappointment, even to this day.'"


Gay Bears: Hidden History of Berkeley Campus

Oscar Wilde In America | © John Cooper, 2024